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Thoughts For Thursday: Random Reflections On My Kids and Parenting Teens

June 9, 2011 · 18 comments

in Parenting, Thoughts For Thursday

Disclaimer:  I am not stating we are fabulous parents by any means.  I am just sharing some tips that have worked for us so far when raising teenagers.  My kids are still 13, 15, and 17, so we still have many parenting years ahead of us.  We are by no means perfect!

Well, yesterday was the last day of school for my kiddos!  I absolutely love summer and having the kids back at home.  I envision so much fun for the summer.  Trip to Myrtle Beach, swimming in Lake Huron, barbecues, four-square, and more. What’s not to love? (Besides heat, humidity and mosquitos…)

Even though I am thrilled the kids are home for summer vacation, I can’t believe how fast this school year has gone.  It is just shocking that I have 3 teenagers, and my oldest son is graduating next year.  I remember when he started kindergarten like it was yesterday.  When I walked him to that classroom the first time, I remember thinking  “He won’t graduate for 13 years, and I still have 2 kids at home to enjoy”.   Two years later, my daughter went to school, and two years after that, my youngest started kindergarten, and my nest was empty for 7 hours a day.  However, even when my youngest was in kindergarten, I still felt like the kids would be young for a really long time.  Graduation seemed like an event so far in the distance that it never even crossed my mind.

My how those years flew by…

Flash forward to 2011.   My oldest is officially a ‘senior’ now and is going to graduation parties left and right.  My daughter is also headed to a lot of those same graduation parties, but not nearly as many.  She will be taking the PSAT in the fall and will start receiving billions of college pamphlets in the mail soon enough.  My youngest will be starting his last year of middle school in September!  Where did my little 5 year olds go?  Where are the kids I could swing around in a circle in the backyard?  These kids have now grown into wonderful teenagers, two of which are taller than me.

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

As I reflect on the fact that my kids have gotten older, I remember all the people that told me how awful the teen years would be, and that I needed to enjoy my kids when they were young.  Well, I did enjoy my kids when they were little, and when they were medium, and now that they are big.  Just like women that love to share horrible labor stories, there are those people that love to tell you how awful life is going to be as the kids are older.

That’s not to say that the teen years are just full of joy and family serenity.  However, all years in life have their issues.  I can honestly say I enjoy spending time with my kids as much now as I did when they were little.  What is great is I can have such interesting conversations with the kids and we can laugh at the same things.    The things you do with the kids are different as they get older, but that doesn’t mean it is bad.

Don’t Give Up!!!

However, you do have some control over the relationship you have with your children as they get older.  I do recognize that sometimes things happen with kids that are beyond a parent’s control, and not every child is born to be a wonderful teenager.  But one thing I have found is that it is imperative to keep the lines of communication open with your child through all phases of life.  I have seen so many parents basically drop out of their kid’s lives when the kids got older, but kids need their parents no matter what age they are.   Sure it can be hard to figure out where you ‘fit in’ to your child’s life as they become more social and bogged down with school.   However, there is no reason why you can’t interact.  There are opportunities everyday to reconnect with your children. Maybe it can be during a long car ride, or while standing in line at the store.   Regardless of how and where, find a way to stay in touch with your kids, and also have fun and laugh with them.  No, you don’t want to be your child’s best friend, but you also don’t want to just be the person that yells and criticizes them all the time.

College?

I will admit, I am curious to see how my relationship with my son will change as he heads off to college.  I won’t know nearly as much about his day-to-day life as I do now, so I am sure our topics of conversation will be different.  Again, our relationship will change, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad change.  (That is what I am telling myself…)

Your Thoughts?

For all of you out there that have older children, what is one piece of advice you would give to those parents out there that still have little ones?  Anything you are glad you did as a parent?  Share your wisdom!!

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole June 9, 2011 at 7:50 am

Why not state you’re fabulous parents? If your kids are turning out great, that’s pretty well proof, eh?
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Kris June 9, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Nicole, I could never say I am a fabulous parent! My kids are great, no doubt about it, but they are such unique and fun individuals that it all just kind works out nicely. (At least it has so far.) Basically, I give them all the credit for their greatness. (However, I do know if something goes wrong, I will place the blame on myself. Strange how that works.)

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Jacq June 9, 2011 at 9:49 am

I didn’t have an angsty teen and now at 23 he’s still not causing me any problems. I find just talking to them a lot in ways that they can’t get with their circle has been helpful. He teaches me about economics, science and politics (his interests) and we talk a lot about philosophy, history and business (my interests – and his).
The younger one might give me a bit of a run for my money since he’s so gregarious but I think he’ll turn out wonderfully as a teen, apart from his workaholic tendencies. He desperately wants a paying job and he’s only 10, so he gets to run lemonade stands. :-)
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Kris June 9, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Jacq- gosh it sounds like you have done a great job, and God knows you have had your challenges in other aspects of life.

I totally think the key is to just talk. You never know what topic is going to come up, or what inside jokes you will create. My kids and I laugh so much together, every single day, and I think the fact we all enjoy each other’s company makes a huge difference. Nobody complains about going on family vacations or having a family game night. There is a place for friends and a place for family, and there is always room for both.

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Crystal @ BFS June 9, 2011 at 11:36 am

I can’t comment on the parent side of things, but I’d warn all teens to tone back the angst because they’ll still feel silly about it 10 years later – I know I do, lol. :-)

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Kris June 9, 2011 at 9:14 pm

BFS- you are so right! However, I think it is a part of the teen mind to think that the whole world revolves around them and nothing else matters. Actually, some people never grow out of that phase!

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First Gen American June 9, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I can see the communication thing becoming an issue with my older son. He generally doesn’t like to recap his school day, but I’ll have to get creative. He has no problem talking about things that interest him. I can’t wait to read the comments from the other parents out there.

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Kris June 9, 2011 at 9:13 pm

First Gen, one thing I have found is to be as specific as possible when I ask questions. Instead of saying ‘how was your day?’ I will say ‘so who got in trouble’ or whatever to learn kind of what goes on at school. Our school is so small that I know almost all the students in the grades my kids are in, so it is easy to identify with the stories they tell. I ask how certain tests went, who won what competition at spirit week, etc just to keep in touch with what they do during the day. I have a hard time answering the question ‘how was your day’ myself, so I imagine it is hard for my kids too.

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Jacq June 11, 2011 at 8:43 am

Oh totally Kris! My youngest likes it when I play Oprah and he plays my famous guest – ie. interview him. Even when I get into the “how did that make you feel?” kind of questions, he puts up with it. It was funny, the other day he asked me “how was your day?” – he saw on some kind of show that women like that kind of thing I guess. ROTFL

All the talking can backfire too though when they get a bit older, telling you things that are a little TMI about their girlfriends and whatnot. :-)
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krantcents June 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm

We have two successful adult children. Children like almost anything you do, you get what you put into it. The teen years are not bad because you invested time when they were younger, keeping the communication lines open and instilling values. It seems it is more difficult for mothers versus fathers when children leave home. As a father, I view it as a culmination or becoming an adult. Mothers view it differently. We have a very good close relationship with our children. It was always a priority for us.
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Kris June 9, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Krantcents- it does seem from reading your blog that your kids turned out pretty darn good. That is what is hard about parenting, you don’t know the results of your actions for 20-some years.

I guarantee I will have a harder time than my husband when it comes to ‘letting go’. I have had a hard time transitioning from stage to stage as it is, I can’t imagine what it will be like when they move out and start their own lives. I know it is a part of life, but gosh I will miss them.

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Money Reasons June 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm

My parents did there own thing, so much so that I was was almost raised by my neighbors after the age of 12 years old. My neighbors had a family movie night and spend vacations together (unlike me and my parents).

Today, my neighbor’s kids (my adult friends) still come home for games and to hang out, while I hardly ever see my parents. So based off of that life experience, I’m trying to raise my kids like the neighbors did :)
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Kris June 9, 2011 at 9:07 pm

MR- so you basically learned how to raise your kids by doing the opposite of your parents did for you it looks like. That just goes to show that lessons can be learned everywhere, it just depends on what you decide to do with the information. Some follow the same path, others do the opposite. Looks like you were smart and decided to model your parenting after examples shown by your neighbors in addition to doing the opposite of the example you had.

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Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager June 9, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Chances are you’ll son will still call to check in with you while he’s at college. My brother still calls home for advice from picking classes, dating advice and when he gets sick.

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Kris June 9, 2011 at 9:05 pm

I am so glad there is texting, skype and other means of communication that did not exist back when I was in college. I am sure he will check in, but probably not as much as I would like! :)

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Lindy Mint June 10, 2011 at 5:53 pm

I love your comment about enjoying your kids at all ages. Seeing them grow and learn (if they stayed babies forever that would be weird) is one of my favorite things as a mom.

I was recently given a book called Get to Know Your Kid. It’s basically a book full of questions to ask kids to get them talking. I thought it was kind of dorky at first, but I decided to give it a try one night at dinner, and my son really enjoys answering them. I look forward to asking him some of these again when he gets older to see how his answers change.
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Kris June 10, 2011 at 7:29 pm

That sounds like an interesting book!

I remember when my kids were babies, I couldn’t imagine enjoying another phase more. Then toddler hood came and it was fascinating to see the capabilities really take off. Now, I so enjoy sharing the same humor with them and such and we laugh all the time. Each phase is special in its own way.

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