Raising Teenagers: What You Need to Know
"It's really a roller coaster ride, raising teenagers," says Mato Arcenal Fuentes, mom of four. "One minute you are laughing or joking with them, and the next minute you almost want to smack them," she adds.
Next to the terrible twos, adolescence is another challenging stage for moms and dads. As your child transitions from childhood to adulthood, he's bound to experience all sorts of emotions and feelings as he tries to figure out his identity and his place in the world. And as he goes through these struggles, he'll likely take him along with you.
To help you prepare you for this 'exciting' phase, we asked three moms, who are currently raising teenagers themselves, to share their insights on this interesting stage.
#1 Raising teenagers can be fun.
Having a teenager around the house can bring forth memories of your own adolescence. It can be intoxicating to remember the time when you were young and free. Plus, Mato says, "They are fun to be with... I like meeting their friends and I listen to their antics and laugh with them.
Tatah Costales Dela Calzada, mom of one, adds that she likes getting updated on the latest trends and craze through her son. "I feel younger," she says. She and her husband like hanging out with their son as well, staying at home for movie marathons, wine and cheese nights, or beer and pizza nights.
#2 The fact that they're bigger and more independent makes parenting a bit easier.
Carrie Bucu, mom of three, says, "I enjoyed it that my three teenagers were already physically independent, taller than me, and had most of their motor skills together. I just had to give instructions or remind them what to do and they would be able to do tasks by themselves. I especially loved it that my daughter could independently pitch in on cooking duty since she was 13.
Tatah adds, "I always have an able and willing driver and errand boy, giving me extra me-time during my days off."
Carrie enjoyed more me-time too as her teens were able to study by themselves.
"In their early teens when they were in high school, I would have to remind them to study for their exams. But later on, a few months into college, they quickly developed the initiative to prepare well for their tests and to submit projects on time or even a bit early."
#3 You can have amazing conversations with them.
"When my kids were 16 to 19 years old, I totally appreciated that I could have more mature conversations with them, whether through calls, chats, or in person," says Carrie.
"We could watch a movie or TV show and have a good laugh together. When moral issues in a movie were in question, we could discuss them and I could present them with points to ponder on, without having to water-down life's realities."
Mato adds, "They are inspiring. When my teenagers open up, I share with them a part of me. I give them advice based on my experiences." She feels particularly privileged when they let her into their world because she knows that she has earned their trust.
#4 Unfortunately, they can sometimes be irritating.
Carrie says, "Just like any mom who has dealt with teenage kids, it was most difficult for me to deal with their mood swings."
"When they like where you're going or what you're doing or if it interests them, they are really okay," says Mato.
"But when they think it's not cool, they cannot hide their feelings. You can see it in their faces and actions."
At times like these, Mato makes sure to tell her kids how they made her feel, and how "uncool" that is!
#5 You'll worry about them.
Part and parcel of being a teenager is meeting up with friends, playing games, and yes, falling in and out of love. All of these can cause momma to worry.
Tatah says, "I worry a lot when he's driving at night especially because he's always the last to go home. He has the tendency to drive his friends back to their homes, which is something we instilled on him - a concern for everyone's safety."
"I worried about those computer games!" Carrie says.
"I was always tempted to ban them altogether but that would not have taught them anything. Fortunately, they learned which game content were unacceptable and which ones they could play on weekends, only from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. The unexpected icing on the cake came when they developed the initiative to skip playing in favor of studying. But alas! This came at 18 years old so there was a five-year struggle before that," she says.
And of course, Tatah says, "When he's heart-broken, we're heart-broken as well."
"When they are in a difficult situation, you have to keep your cool and at the same time be strong in helping them deal with it," Mato says.
"It's an achievement when they go to you during difficult times. I am not happy that they have to go through these things but I am happy that they go to me during these times."
#6 You have to tread cautiously.
"Raising a teenager is very challenging. You have to be strong-willed," says Mato.
"We always have to be careful when dealing with them. Most of them think differently. We must have more patience. We want them to fully understand what you are trying to say but we must also be careful in our choice of words, our tone of voice, etc. It actually depends on the situation and their emotional state."
Carrie says, "The greatest challenge was to hold myself back first whenever I disliked something they did. In their younger years, I could just step in and intervene. When they were in their teens, I always had to balance respecting their learning space versus instilling in them what I already know."
In the end, Mato says, "Respect them so they will respect you. Listen to them so they will listen to you. Lastly, always let them know that you love them no matter what."