And Then I Had Teenagers: Encouragement for Parents of Teens and Preteens
by Susan Yates
At the Window Standing at my front window, I watched for the familiar blonde head to appear. And I braced myself for what was about to happen. Slumped shoulders and a lowered head might mean trouble, whereas a light skip with a swinging backpack could mean a pleasant greeting was in store. What will she be like today? I mused. Will she be on a high because she was asked to sit with the “right girls” at lunch, or will she be in an irritable funk because a certain boy didn’t speak to her in the hall? I had no way of knowing. I had a fourteen-year-old. And then she was home. “Hi, honey,” I greeted her, opening the front door. “How was your day?” “Okay,” she replied in an exasperated voice as she threw her backpack on the floor. Making a beeline for the kitchen, she bumped into her younger brother. “Why don’t you look where you’re going?” she barked. Casting a quick glance into the refrigerator, she turned accusingly to me. “Why don’t we ever have any good food to eat in this house, anyway?” Not waiting for an answer, she stomped out and headed into her room, slamming the door with a loud bang that seemed to say, So there, it’s all your fault! As I stood in silence, my son looked at me with a puzzled expression. “Mom, what’s the matter with her?” he asked. “Adolescence, that’s what,” I sighed. It didn’t seem that long since I’d stood at the same window, waiting for my husband to come to my rescue. Then I was blocking out the cries of fifteen-month-old twins with ear infections, ignoring the war taking place between our four- and six-year-old boys, and not even caring where our eight-year-old was. Then I watched for HIS car to turn in the driveway. With coat and purse in hand, I greeted him at the door. “Hi, honey. You’ve heard of runaway kids—well, I’m a runaway mom. They’re all fussing. They’re all yours. I’ll be back in about three hours, when I’m sure you will have them all asleep.” Then I had five kids, ages eight and under, and I ran away. But now I’d become a parent of five teens and preteens. And I’m not supposed to run away. It’s immature. Allison was nineteen, John seventeen, Chris fifteen, and our twins, Susy and Libby, about to turn thirteen. We had a house full of hormones. And we knew that life with teens was different than life with toddlers. Back then we couldn’t get them to sleep. Now we can’t get them up. Then we used to be up at night feeding babies. Now we’re up at night waiting for them to come in. Then they didn’t care if their shorts were clean. Now they have to wear shorts that aren’t too clean and that are made of perfectly faded denim. Then they wanted us to understand their baby coos. Now they talk to each other in Spanish so we can’t understand. Then we couldn’t get them to take a shower. Now we can’t get them out of the bathroom. Then we never could find a lost toddler’s shoe when we needed it. Now we trip over Chris’s size 13 shoes. Then we used to worry about what the kids wore. Now Chris looks at his younger sisters and says, “I’d never let my girls go to school dressed like that!”
Then the kids used to promise us they “could be responsible.” Now John says, “It’s a pain being responsible.” Then we used to be embarrassed when they acted foolishly. Now John says, “My girl’s coming over in a minute, Mom. Don’t act like a grown-up fool!” Then we used to go see Bambi and cry. Now we watch Father of the Bride and cry. So many changes. So many challenges, so many fears. If your kids are approaching the teen years, you are scared. If they are in the middle of them, you are overwhelmed. And if they are in the later teen years, you wonder, Is it already too late? You may have a nineteen-year-old daughter who’s been a compliant, easy teen to raise, but now you are teetering on the brink of major rebellion with your thirteen-year-old son. How can two teens in the same family be so different? You may be a single parent, and with no partner to discuss things with, you feel very much alone. Or you may have kids on the verge of the teen years, and because of your own “sordid” background, you wonder if your kids have a chance. As we’ve gone through the teen years with our five and talked to many other parents and teens, we’ve found great comfort in knowing there are others experiencing the same challenges. Challenges, yes. But many blessings as well. Turn the page and join in as we take an honest look at our lives together and discover some practical ways to enable this season to be not merely endured, but also enjoyed. In chapter 1 we will take a look at ten of the common challenges facing parents of teenagers. The subsequent chapters will deal with each challenge in greater detail. We will talk honestly and practically about each challenge, yet we will also focus on the tremendous blessings to be found during these teen years. As you read, resist the temptation to flip to the “Hot Topics” chapter for a quick solution to your situation. There are no quick solutions, no simple answers in raising teens. You cannot compartmentalize a teenager, and each situation involves a wonderfully complicated child of God and his or her complex parents. How you handle the issues will depend upon the relationships you are establishing with your kids. It’s never too late to improve a relationship.
Yates, Susan Alexander (2001-08-01). And Then I Had Teenagers: Encouragement for Parents of Teens and Preteens (pp. 11-14). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
For this semester we will have the books available for purchase in class as long as supplies last. $5 cash or a check to Hope Church WM. It is also available for Kindle download for $3.99 or used for various bargain prices on Amazon.