Raising teenagers is a lot like going through a haunted house. You navigate mostly on blind faith and anxiety is constantly on high alert. You aren’t sure when or if the roller coaster of emotions will come to an end, and you’re quite certain none of you will make it out alive.
Then, just when you think you’ve reached the end, a man with a chainsaw jumps out and starts chasing you.
I feel like this a lot, especially since I’m experiencing it in double time. My two teens, Abbey, 16, and Jaiden, 14, are great kids. But they're definitely typical teenagers, which means, life is anything but calm and tranquil.
What makes it worse is the fact that parenting teenagers can sometimes be a very lonely experience. Today there seems to be a large emphasis on supporting new parents or parents of smaller children. And while these parents definitely need help and guidance — they’re just starting out, after all — I wish parents of teens weren't forgotten.
I understand how it’s easy to think that parents have it all figured out by the time kids are teens. But that's not true.
In fact, raising teens might even be harder than raising toddlers. So it's important for parents of teens to have support, too.
If you're a parent with teens and find yourself needing help, here are five ways you can find it.
1. Co-parent(s). Whether you’re part of a two-parent household or are part of something a bit more unconventional, all parents involved should be on the same page. Raising teenagers is hard work and requires a thick skin. They’ll push boundaries and test limits. I've found having the whole parenting team on board is a critical component to making it through the trials of raising teens.
2. Books. Books can be great resources for any parent searching for answers. While bookstore shelves might be inundated with books for newer parents, there are plenty of materials out there for parents raising teens. You can find books to help with anger issues, anxiety, depression and even study habits. A few to look into are “Get out of my Life…” by Tony Wolf and Suzanne Franks, “Blame My Brain” by Nicola Morgan and “How to Talk So Teens Will Listen” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.
3. Other parents. Sometimes, other parents can provide insight that can't always be found in a book. It’s also a good reminder that you aren’t alone; other parents feel the same way you do. Plus, while it’s true that all children are different, there are a lot of similarities between what kids seem to go through during the teen years. So find another parent who is in the same boat as you and start connecting.
4. Professional expertise. Sometimes it takes a more qualified person to help your teen — or even you — work through their specific concerns. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because you never know how deep the issues may be.
5. Friends. Having a good friend to spend time with can help relieve some of the stress that accompanies being a parent. It can give you a much needed mental break, which is vital to finding the energy necessary to handle anything else that comes your way.