As a parent to two teens, I can assure you nothing can prepare you for the whirlwind of emotions you’re sure to encounter during these years.

I’m not just talking about their emotions either. These years are emotional for parents, too. Right now, in the midst of the teens years, you might believe all hope is lost, and nothing you say or do will help.

The good news is they will eventually grow out of it.

But right now, remember that with the right level of humor and cynicism, raising teens can also be entertaining — even if it's also really exhausting. Personally, I've developed a thick skin after a few years wandering down this nearly aimless path with my 16- and 14-year-old. So here are seven "tips" I'd like to pass along to the parent just entering these murky waters. Have fun!

1. They know everything. When your child becomes a teenager, don’t bother giving them any advice because they just don’t need it. They already know right from wrong, and everything you say is superfluous fluff. If you ever wondered when would be a good time to let your child make his or her own mistakes, now would be a good time to start.

2. They don’t need you. Not only are your words not needed, but neither are your actions. Remember, at their age, they already know everything, which means they don’t need your help navigating even the most uncertain path. But if you’re lucky, they’ll find a family friend or relative to confide in, because that’s the only advice to which they will heed any warning.

3. You’re ruining their lives. Everything you do is an attempt at making their lives worse than they already are. If you aren’t making sure they are the butt of every joke, you are trying to slowly make them the laughing stock of their class. So drop them off at the front doors and proclaim your love for them loudly anyway. At least then it won’t be a complete fabrication.

4. You don’t care how they feel. The reason you are so good at ruining their lives is because you don’t care whether or not you hurt their feelings. Everything you do is an abomination and in direct contrast to what is good for them. So don’t worry if you hurt their feelings that first time. It probably won't be the last.

5. Money grows on trees. Before they have to get jobs, it’s common knowledge the money you spend on them comes some money tree you have safely hidden away. When you tell them no, they’ll wonder why you don’t have the money, and argue when you tell them most things in life have a price.

6. Your food is poison and will likely kill them. Even if you try to cook them a healthy meal, it probably won’t be good enough. Everything you make will taste like trash and be an attempt to send them to an early grave. So keep feeding them vegetables. They won’t die, and they might even be better for it — eventually.

7. You don’t buy them anything. Regardless of how full their rooms or homes are, they will definitely find a way to complain about everything they don’t have. Everyone they know has something bigger and better. Keep them humble with the bare minimum. They’ll appreciate it more than they realize.

The hardest part about raising teens is knowing where you stand, as well as the reality that there isn’t much you will do right. But you’re doing the best you can, and that’s all that matters.

Continue to stand your ground and hold your limits. They’ll thank you for it one day.


Amanda Smith, a working mom of two children, writes weekly for momaha.comRead more from Amanda »

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