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7 Things to Love About Parenting Teenagers

Even before I became a parent, I absolutely knew that I loved babies and toddlers. I had worked in early childhood education for years and was eager to have my own little ones. This is probably why we had our first child before we had our first wedding anniversary! As certain as I was about loving the little ones, I was equally uncertain about the prospect of parenting TEENAGERS one day. In fact, the thought was almost frightening. However, I’ve now been a mom to a teenager for 2 years and counting, and it has been surprisingly delightful! Here are a handful of reasons that I’m loving the teen years so far…

They care about the world outside themselves.

Teenagers have a reputation for being largely self-centered, but most of the time I see a different picture. Yes, my son cares a lot about his computer time and his friends, but I have SO MANY excellent conversations with him about the world — and he is often the one who starts them. He is politically and socially engaged, and I really enjoy hearing his perspective {or reading his tweets} about things. His interest in the wider world is something that he has cultivated, not something that my husband and I can take credit for.

They can be really hilarious.

My toddler cracks us up regularly, and so does my tween. But teenage humor is something else. It’s smarter and sharper, and it makes you laugh because it is on your level. Take this example from a recent family meeting via text message…

7 Things to Love About Parenting Teenagers | Houston Moms BlogI mean, that’s gold. 

They are helpful. {…though it may be under duress.}

Mowing the lawn. Washing dishes. Babysitting. Killing wasps. Reaching things on a tall shelf. And one glorious day yet to come, he’ll be driving to the grocery store or hauling his little sister to theater rehearsal! Teenagers are handy to have around. It may take some cajoling {see above}, but they can do a lot of helpful things! The bonus to being a productive family member is that they are accruing skills that they will use in their independent lives that are just around the bend. 

They can FINALLY watch your favorite shows with you.

One of the best days in my parenting life was the day I sat down to watch The Office with my son. I love The Office with a deep love {I actually watched it throughout labor with my youngest child} and I quote it at least daily. The day I could finally share that with him was so great. I just finished watching Stranger Things with my {almost} teen, and now we are watching Gilmore Girls too. After putting in years of enduring Nick Jr. and Disney Channel, finally putting on shows I love that he can also enjoy is such a sweet reward. 

They get you to do fun things you wouldn’t usually do.

A few months ago, I went to a Panic! At The Disco concert with my son. It was definitely not something I would have done on my own, but it was such a great show, and it was amazing to be in that venue with my kid while he had the time of his life. My teen was the one who introduced our household to Hamilton, and now we are all deeply in love with it. Teens’ interests and passions can sometimes force you outside of your comfort zone, and that often isn’t a bad thing. 

They are {somewhat} self-maintaining.

My son sets his own alarm for the morning. He’s the first up. He showers, gets ready for his day, and he’s good to go. He gets his own snacks and makes his own lunches in the summer. He entertains himself; he has his own social circle and hobbies. He keeps up with his own school assignments, though he loves to wait until the last minute to knock them out {I can’t blame him; I’m a sprinter too}. He is capable of calling the pharmacy to see if his prescriptions are ready, and he can fill out his own forms at the doctor’s office. We are definitely involved in his life, but no longer central figures in running it.

They really do love their family, even if they don’t say it often.

My middle {medically-complex} kid was in the hospital over the weekend, and my teenager texted me often for updates. “How is she? Is she going to be okay? How do you know?” and so on. At home, they mostly ignore each other these days and stay in their own respective social circles, but he loves her just like he did when they were younger and spent their days playing together. It just looks different now. When the toddler starts crying, he often stops what he’s doing to check on her or try to cheer her up. He loves his people a lot, it just stays hidden between the mysterious wall of teenage stoicism much of the time.

Yes, there are scary things about parenting teens. They are growing up and away, and starting to make adult decisions that can affect their lives in permanent ways. Guiding them as they transition into being independent adults is a big responsibility with big consequences, but at the same time, there are so many little and big things to love about parenting teenagers. If you haven’t reached this stage yet, fear not! One day, you will get to watch the little person that you love so much grow into a bigger and more independent version of themselves that you will love just as much. You may see less of yourself in them as they grow and change, but it will be a beautiful gift to watch them become more fully themselves.

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