Parenting Teens vs Littles

Parenting Teens vs Littles

I’m a Mama. It’s my favorite name, my favorite job. But I’m in some new territory. My kids are tweens and teens- and I’m finding this stage a lot more challenging than the “terrible twos” they warn you about.  I have a 15-year-old son, a 12.5-year-old daughter and a 9.5-year-old son. If you add all those years up, it’s a combined 37 years of parenting them. Also, I’m 37 years old. Maybe this is the problem- they are about to surpass me.

I have long lamented that parenting teens is a lonely road. When compared to parenting young children (“littles” is the common blog-speak for such cherubs- there is no cute tween/teen equivalent) the differences are stark.

Littles

Teens

Temper-tantrums at grocery store

Walks away from you at mall

Potty training trials

Seriously awkward talks about their bodies

Wants all the toys seen on TV

Wants 72” flat screen TV and latest phone

Won’t go to bed

Won’t get out of bed

Won’t eat enough veggies

Is 47% Dorito

Wants annoying kid’s music played in car

Wants annoying techno music played in car

Must force to take daily baths

Same

So as you can see, there are struggles in both stages. But there are two main differences that I have noted.

Willpower- When you have to tell them no and enforce 1st world-problem rules, kids will sometimes revolt. It’s natural. And your 3 year old may be the strongest willed 3 year old on the planet, but eventually she will need a juice box, some dinner, or just fall asleep and reset. Littles need you to live. Try that with a 13 year old. They are fueling their anger with sour patch kids and Dasani while facetiming their friends for moral support and making plans for their emancipation. They get stronger with time.

Also, if you as a parent are strong willed (firmly raises hand) you may have spawned your greatest opponent. I have wondered if a steel caged death match is the only way to resolve things with mine. #therecanbeonlyone Strong willed kids are good. They won’t follow the crowd, they won’t succumb to peer pressure and will make their own way. But they will use this time in their life to practice all that “don’t succumb and do it their own way” stuff- on you.

Support– When kids are little there are playgroups, blogs, books- so much support! Your doctor gives you a handy checklist of all the things your kid should be doing and if they are- you can be pretty satisfied. Finding mom friends can be as easy as connecting because you both breastfeed (side note- that’s how I met all of my very first mom friends. Nothing will bond you as quickly as learning how to latch in a class full of first time moms!). So I highly recommend finding some of these groups that are a fit for you if you have littles, because it is really the easiest time to make some good mom friends. And these friends will be your lifeline when you need to know which preschool is the best or how to get black sharpie off wooden floors (hand sanitizer- it works!).

When you have teens, there are just more parts in motion so it’s hard to give specific advice. I can potty train a kid in 7 days flat- and tell you how to do it too. And so can about 100 books. But if your daughter is struggling with body image and failing algebra and can’t decide whether to take AP Literature and might quit band but that’s the only class she has with her BFF…there is no book for that. And to some extent it can be hard to talk with your friends about your kid’s struggles. There is more on the line and mistakes are harder to ignore. Things can get tricky if your kids are friends with each other when inevitable disagreements happen. And as a private person myself, I don’t feel I have the right to disclose too many personal details about my kids. Which is why this is not a “mommy-blog”. Most current stories about them are their own to tell- not mine. And I’m sure glad my mom wasn’t blogging about me during my teen years!

My kids are great. Awesome. I have done nothing in life to deserve the absolute joy and love they bring to my life and the world. I thank God for them every day and I love them so much it can hurt. In the big picture all of our issues don’t even make a blip. We aren’t dealing with scary things that so many are. But I want the best for them. And to keep them off the paths that can so quickly lead to scary problems. So I push them to do what I think is best. Not ok, not good, best. I have the same standards for myself. I’m pretty sure that’s not what I’m supposed to do but there you have it. I’m still a work in progress just like they are.

So, here is the end where I’d like to sum this all up with some optimistic thoughts and tell you, and myself, everything will all be all right and if you just do xyz all will go perfectly. But I can’t. I’m still in the middle of it. You may be too. But knowing we aren’t alone is a little comforting, right? Also, look at these verses below. We know what we need to do and it’s a huge responsibility, but when we (our kids and us!) fail, tomorrow is a new day and God is ready to guide us.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Matthew 6:34 So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Lamentations 3:22–23 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness.

Prayers for all of you Mamas. The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. -Cher

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