My name is Shannon Strogal. I am a strength and conditioning fitness coach at OPEX Fitness in Regina, a wife and a mother to four children, 2 boys and 2 girls ranging in ages from 22, 13, 10 and 8. My passion in women’s health, both mentally and physically, comes from my own personal experiences. I am recently new to blogging and I hope my stories can inspire and resinate with fellow mothers. I truly believe that behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back.
Some of you may be many many years away from your babies entering the teenage years but having gone through this once already I feel like I can share some insight.
I don’t claim to be an expert in raising a teenager. I mean really, are we ever an expert at parenting? Every child is so different and some struggle with the teens years more then others however there are always the same common themes that pop up in conversations with other moms. I always say that these were the most challenging years as a parent, the terrible two’s have nothing on this stage. However as challenging as it was it I think it is by far the most important.
1) Let’s start off with the mood swings.
Most teenagers will most likely want nothing to do with you, and then desperately want your attention, approval and love. They will sigh and eye-roll at your requests, but then want to be cuddled when they are feeling sad or under the weather. They will be mortified by your presence at their big game, but angry with you if you miss it.
There is one answer for this…hormones.
You will feel like you don’t know who this human is starring back at you but trust me in saying this will pass. They are struggling with it just as much as you are.
2) They’ll probably make some really stupid choices.
Remember though, didn’t we all? Most of the time, the dumb things we did as teenagers just end up being dumb things we did as teenagers, nothing more. They’re the things that lead us to new experiences, new places, new friends. They’re the things that make us realize, even as we climb into that van to go to a party with a bunch of strangers, that we likely shouldn’t have done it, and know that even though all went well, we won’t do it again.
Here’s a quote I read once and wanted to share: “A teenager who never makes any mistakes may grow into the adult who never takes chances.”
3) They can be very messy!
Between coats on the floor when they walk in the door, leaving their clothes wherever it is they happen to take them off, leaving dirty dishes in their rooms and never, ever, making the bed. Their rooms will drive you crazy. And sometimes, it will smell. Like, really, really bad. My advise, get a room deodorizer of some sort and keep their door shut.
Cleanliness isn’t their top priority, and frankly most teenagers are just lazy.
Sorry. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
4) Don’t ignore the big stuff.
I feel this is by far the most important point. If you think your child is using drugs, alcohol or dealing with depression, do not look the other way, talk to them about it now and seek professional help if necessary.
These are the years when it is essential for parents to stay involved.
Watch for changes in your teen’s behaviour, appearance, academic performance, and friends. And remember, it’s not just illicit drugs that are abused now. I don’t want to scare you, but just know that these are different times that we live and and don’t be naive to the fact that your child will never be in contact with it. We did random room and cell phone checks as a way to keep in the know. Surprise, your teenager will not be forthcoming all the time and tell you everything.
This is not an invasion of privacy, it is your house and this is your child.
5) Am I Disciplining too much or not enough.
Some days it may feel as though you are losing control over your child’s behaviour, and you want to crack down every time they step out of line. And then there could be days where you avoid all conflict for fear you will push them away.
Forcing a child to follows the rules to a tee, may make your teenager fall into line but they could be missing the chance to develop life skills because you’re making the decisions for them. Too little discipline doesn’t help, either. Teenagers need a clear structure to live by as they start to explore the world outside.
It’s about finding a balance between creating rules and expectations and giving them the freedom to grow in to young adults.
Time goes by quickly. Next thing you know they’re all grown up, they move out, go to university, get married. You will miss them. I remember on the difficult days sitting in my own room crying thinking I was a terrible parent. I now look at our 22 year old and we are so very proud of him and the young man he has turned in to, and I can say… I wouldn’t change a thing.
In the end you will always love your child. Tell them often, and most important, keep talking to them, even if they have nothing to say or seem like they aren’t listening. Because letting them know that you love them unconditionally, even when it’s tough love, is the only thing that really matters.