The One Thing a Mom Can Do to Make Raising a Teenager Easier
Ugh. Just that one, little word can make the strongest mama weep. Hormones, anger, confusion, DIRTY DISHES IN THEIR ROOM… Some may say the hardest part of being a mom is the lack of sleep, but I say those people haven’t experienced the teen years yet.
I have 4 kids ranging in age from 14 – 26 so I’ve not only done the teenager-thing but I’m currently back in the trenches.
Girl, help me.
I’m emotionally exhausted and used-up. The Müber (Mom-Über) is in full swing, I have to ask before I can make plans for myself and my bank account has taken a serious beating.
Any chance you can relate to what I’m saying?
It’s such a weird transition into parenting teens, isn’t it? It’s like, you’ve been a 24/7 parent for your baby/toddler/school age kid and then all of a sudden you’re being pushed away to be a mom on-call.
Wait. What? Okaaaaayyy…..in some ways it’s not so bad: you no longer have to run baths, read bedtime stories, fill up the water glass at bedtime for the 7 thousandth time… but in other ways, you kinda mourn the days your “little baby” needed you. After all, you’re a MOM- you’ve been doing this job for years and having a little cuddle before bed is your payback for doing all the things.
But teenagers don’t need you, until they need you.
While they try to balance their friends, school, jobs and extra curricular stuff we just have to stand to the side and watch them rise and fall. We may have to accept things about them that we didn’t think about. For instance, maybe you’re a university-educated mama and you always assumed your son would be too. But now he wants to go to college to find a career in the trades and your plans for his life just went sideways. Maybe she’s hanging around with friends that you don’t love and she just got caught shoplifting at the mall- bet ya never thought you’d be dealing with the police when it came to your sweet baby. Maybe you are dealing with accepting your kid’s sexuality, drug use or disrespect of teachers.
So what’s a mama to do about all of this?
The number one thing a mom can do to save her sanity during the teen years is to: LET THAT SHIT GO.
When your child starts to let go of you, you have to return the favour. It’s one of the hardest parts of being a mom because for so many years you’ve been under the illusion that you’ve had some control. But, Girl? You haven’t. Your child may be a reflection of all the choices and beliefs that you gave them, but they aren’t you. It’s time to let them go a little; let them stretch their decision muscles, make some epic mistakes and learn some lessons.
It’s time to stop doing their laundry and their homework. It’s time to make them clean up after themselves and deal with teachers that tell them what to do. It’s your most important job as a mom to let go of your role as mommy-make-it-all-better and start to be soft-place-to-land-mom. People become more confident when they face a problem and solve it, so don’t take that away from your teenager. It’s so hard to watch them make a tough decision and suffer consequences but it’s where they grow and learn and forgive themselves. These are all skills they’ll need when they’re adults.
Most of all, Mama, you must let go of the shame and embarrassment that you will naturally feel when your teenager screws up. Your kid is not you. Your kid is going to go out into the world and make decisions that just make you shake your head in disbelief.
Full disclosure: As a mom of teenagers I’ve had to deal with drug addiction, shoplifting, pot smoking, drinkkng, theft, a high school dropout, a kid who was fired from their job, countless interactions with the police, a kid in jail (twice) and a teenager who was homeless for a year. Oh, and once a drug dealer came to our front door looking for one of our kids.
If you want to read more about my journey as a mom to a drug-addicted teenager, click HERE.
It has taken me a loooong time to realize that I’m a really good mom in spite of my kids’ (sometimes) shitty decisions. I learned awhile ago that my kids can let go of me, make decisions that I may not agree with and it’s not a reflection of my parenting. The most important thing to me is that my kids can fall down, pick themselves up and know that I’m over here to support them, whatever that means for them.
So, Mama- please let that shit go. It’s time to stop hiding the truth of parenting teenagers: that it’s a hard, exhausting, happy, confusing, stressful job that you have to show up at every day, whether you want to or not.
And please- for the LOVE OF MOMS- let go of any shame you’ve been feeling and be honest about how hard it really is to be the mother of a teen. This isn’t the time to judge another mom- it’s the time to tell her she’s doing her a great job coping with her teenager’s decisions. Tell her she’s not alone and share your own experiences, good and bad.
Did you know there’s a group for moms of teenagers on the Mamasoup app? Join the conversation now and start finding the support that we all need doing this most difficult stage of parenting- the stage where we have to let go and trust that we’ve done our job well.
Joanne Ilaqua - CEO of MamaSoup
Hey there, I’m Joanne.
I’ve spent about 20 years serving women as a nurse, doula and Lamaze educator. I have 4 kids and I know firsthand how lonely and isolating motherhood can be, so I created MamaSoup. I'm mostly known for my love of red wine, spontaneously singing and my confidence in being my true self on social media. When I’m not busy building women up, you can catch me taking Instagram stories of my bulldog Ruby, watching The Handmaid’s Tale, playing MUber (Mom Uber) to my kids or vacationing in my favourite town: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
I love serving the world by providing a space for moms to connect and support each other. In my opinion, moms are the backbone of communities because they are (literally) raising the future!
As the founder and CEO of MamaSoup, I’ve been featured on CHEX TV Morning Show, KawarthaNOW, Economic Development- The City of Kawartha Lakes and MyKawartha.
Still with me? Join me over at MamaSoup to keep the conversation going!