| Musings |

Teen Troubles  

It’s the private, only-for-Mom’s-eyes tantrums that bring me to my knees. “Our family is dysfunctional!”

Sometimes my teenager makes me cry.

It’s not the fact that my kid is a confused mix of toddler and adult. It’s not the endless shopping, eye rolling, or mood swings. Not even the help-they-didn’t-cover-this-in-parenting-class moments that happen daily, though all those are bad enough.

It’s the private, only-for-Mom’s-eyes tantrums that bring me to my knees. “Our family is dysfunctional!”

“That is totally S.O. (socially off)!”

“Something is seriously wrong with every single kid in this family! No, really! If you don’t take all of them for help, then all of them are going to be messed up for life!”

If you have teens, or have survived teens (can I contact you for support?), you’re probably nodding your head sagely, with sympathy in your eyes. Thanks, I’ll take all the sympathy I can get.

If your oldest isn’t a teen (that description varies — the definition is negotiable. But when it happens, you will know. Trust me. You. Will. Know.), you might be, a. thinking you’ll be smarter than I was — you’ll read parenting manuals and be prepared, b. wondering why I take these things so seriously, or c. putting down this magazine to ask your mother if she is the author of this piece.

Well, I have the same thing to say to all of you:  Just you wait. Your smugness will disappear in one spectacular teenage tantrum. You can email me then at sorryijudgedyounowigetit@gmail.com. I promise to never hold it against you when it comes to shidduchim.

I’m so young, my teen tells me, that I’m, like, clueless about how to raise teenagers today. I’m so old, says my teen, that I have no idea what it means to be a teen today. Cardigans, babies, and sushi are all heaven. Sales, following rules, and school lunch are all socially off.  I’m too strict with my almost adults; I’m not strict enough with anyone else. Our suppers border on child neglect; the baby’s clothes are so random.

Our little boys don’t always match — it’s dysfunctional. The older girls sometimes do match — it’s so awkward. The house isn’t clean enough — it’s mortifying. I actually make them clean up after themselves — it’s abusive. Speaking of which, we don’t have enough cleaning help. And when we do have, it’s so annoying! There’s nothing to eat in this house, we must move, no way am I dating from here, how will you even marry me off?

And it happens earlier than you think. Just when you’re starting to think you have the parenting thing down pat, BOOM! Your cute, little kid becomes a teenager.  Back when my first was just starting to display symptoms of adolescence (it was probably at around age five — oldest children are advanced like that),  the more battle-weary warriors experienced parents promised me that this stage was just” temporary insanity.” In my naïveté, I thought that temporary meant six months. It’s now quite a few long years later…

But take heart. Things have been happening that have me thinking. Maybe there is a glimmer of light at the end of this long, drawn-out tunnel. She’s almost 18, and exhibiting short bursts of… Agreement! Maturity! Responsibility! There is hope.

She may yet become the type of adult I could be proud of. A capable, respectable, marriage-worthy young lady. A true role model to her younger sisters.

Her younger sisters.


Her younger sisters.

One of which is turning …. thirteen next month.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 787)

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