There are many negative attitudes from the public and media towards teenagers, and parents of teens complain about how difficult they can be. As a parent of two teenagers myself, I believe there is much to appreciate about parenting them. The good far outweighs the bad. Whether you are a parent of teens yourself, or a parent of younger children who may be worrying about the teenage years, take a moment to think about these eleven things to appreciate about parenting a teenager.
1. They Know How to Behave in Public
Remember the days of toddler tantrums? The worry about how they would behave if you took them out to a restaurant, or to someone’s house? With your teens, that worry is gone. They may behave differently when they’re not with you, of course, but take comfort in knowing that when they’re out in public with you, they will probably behave appropriately.
2. They Can Entertain Themselves
Young children look to you to provide constant entertainment for them. Teens are far more self-sufficient in that regard. You could spend your time despairing about how long they spend on their devices, but instead appreciate that you now have some time for yourself.
3. They’re Transitioning and You’re There to See it
The teenage years are when they make the transition from child to adult. That’s a pretty amazing thing and you’re lucky enough to be there to see it. It’s scary and exciting. Don’t waste time yearning for when they were small. Observe them change, soak it up – it’s the biggest transition of their lives.
4. They Help You to Improve Your Negotiating Skills
If you were looking for an opportunity to improve your negotiating skills, then you’re in luck. It’s a difficult and confusing time for teenagers as their bodies and minds change. They won’t always deal with things in the best way and you will experience the full force of that first hand. You can spend all your time locking horns with them, or you can learn to pick your battles by letting the trivial things slide and focusing on the important things. You will make mistakes but over time you will learn the most effective way to negotiate with them. Take time to appreciate your new skills.
5. They’re Making Big Decisions With Your Help
During these years, they will be required to make big decisions about their future. Which subjects they want to drop, which they want to study further, what career they would like, what route they will choose to get there. You’re involved in those decisions, guiding them, helping them. Think about that for a moment – you’re helping human beings make plans that will affect the rest of their lives. Always remember what a privilege that is.
6. They Can Have Grown-Up Discussions With You
Your teens will be developing new, more informed, opinions on the world, and you will be able to have discussions with them on the same level. You will notice a shift as they look less and less to you to provide the answers. You will learn as much from them as they do from you. Make the most of these discussions whenever they are willing to have them. You will gain new insights into their character.
7. They Show You That They’re More Than Just Your Children
Of course you’ve always known that they were people in their own right, and not just your children, but you never really felt it before. Now you can imagine them as adults, as people making their way in the world without you. It’s bittersweet. Focus on the sweet.
8. They Have Genuine Shared Interests With You
Movies, books, places to visit. Almost overnight it seems they switch from childhood interests to adult ones like yours. You can go to the movie theater and see a film that you both genuinely want to see. No longer do days out have to be chosen based on the quality of the soft play area, or whether they have a kid-friendly menu. You can enjoy doing the same things together that you would also choose to do alone.
9. They Show You The Results of Your Earlier Parenting
This can be both good and bad of course, but there will be good. You may curse yourself for having let them get into some bad habits when they were young, but you will pat yourself on the back when you see the emergence of good traits that you know came from your parenting.
10. They Enable You to Have More Time For Yourself
The change is so gradual over the years that you may not notice it. You may not feel like you have more time for yourself, but just spend an hour with a parent of a young child, observe, and remember. You do have more time for yourself now.
11. They Teach You That Teenagers Are Actually Pretty Cool
If you haven’t really spent any time with teens since you were one yourself, then you’ve probably forgotten how cool they are. How funny, and optimistic, and full of life they can be, and how strong and loyal their friendships are. Watching them hanging out with their friends, enjoying their youth before having to take on adult responsibilities is a joy. Cherish those moments. Remember what it’s like to be young again.
Featured photo credit: Group of teens at the beach/Vladimir Pustovit via flickr.com