Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Sara and Melissa Talk About...Teenagers

We've been running a column series (for over two years now!) to get more personal with our readers. This month, we're talking about what it's like parenting teenagers. There are a lot of books where the main character is the parent or guardian of a teenager, and now we can finally relate to their experiences, especially since our oldest kids are close in age.

We're always open to topic suggestions, so please don't hesitate to share those in the comments. We'd also love to know if you can relate to anything we've said or hear your own thoughts on the topic. So don't be shy. :) We look forward to getting to know you as much as we're letting you get to know us. You can find our previous columns here, in case you missed them.

Sara Steven:                                                                                                                                       
I want to start this off by saying that it feels pretty strange to have a teenager in my world. I used to imagine what that might look like for him and for me, and well–it looks a little like this:

Ten years old

Seventeen years old

He’d probably get upset if he knew I shared either photo–particularly the second one, since I’d caught him off guard and afterward he said, “Don’t take my picture, Mom.” You can tell just how enthused he’d been to put up with me.

There are a lot more boundaries that are in place with my teen son. He wants more privacy. He doesn’t want me to know every single minutiae of his day like he used to. He tends to rely on his friends for that. He confides more in his stepdad, which is great. I encourage that and I get it, but I do miss our daily conversations when he was an open book for me and wanted to tell me about his Minecraft excursions or what he ate for lunch that day.

When I’m missing the little boy he used to be, I remember how it felt to be a teenager at seventeen. That’s a tough year. You’re on the precipice of becoming an “adult,” which looking back, I know isn’t really. Eighteen is a far cry from adulthood, but when you’re seventeen, you can’t see that yet. I know my son is trying to find his footing and find his independence, and I want that for him. I wanted that for myself when I was his age. I didn’t want my parents to become involved in every single facet of my life, but I wanted to know that they were there for me, just in case. And that’s what I try to do for my kid. I’m here if he needs me, and he knows it. Even when he rolls his eyes when I tell him so. 

The moment I realized he’d passed me in height

We had a conversation recently about the importance of education, which was something I don’t feel I had much support with when I was his age. My son is at an age now where he “gets it,” and even thanked me for caring so much and supporting him. Man, that felt good! When we talk about his favorite television shows, like Better Call Saul, the level of thought is highly elevated. He’s very perceptive and I can’t believe how philosophical he can get. I won’t say it out loud, but I think, who is this kid? He has strong opinions and feelings on various subjects, and even if I don’t always agree, I can’t help but feel proud. He’s a great human being. I also appreciate the many inside jokes we share, because I think it adds a deeper level to our relationship, and I love his sense of humor. I like to say that he gets that from me. 


I’ll continue to give him his space, when he needs it. I’ll continue to be here for him when he needs me. I’ve always felt that one of my biggest goals as his parent is to teach him to become independent–and we’ll keep working on that. I won’t lie–I miss the little boy. But I also embrace the young adult he’s becoming.

Melissa Amster:                                                                                                   
There are lots of things one can talk about when it comes to raising teenagers: their social life, dating, preparing for college, part-time jobs, etc. However, I'm narrowing it down to driving, for the sake of this post. And no, it's not about driving me up the wall. :) 

My oldest got his driver's license a few months ago, which is probably one of the most nerve-wracking things to experience as a parent. It means that he can drive by himself whenever he wants to. I'm used to it now, but it was definitely more stressful in the beginning. Especially the time he went to Starbucks with his sister and didn't tell me he arrived safely and was unreachable even though Starbucks clearly has WiFi. But that's another story for another time....

Then and now...behind the wheel

When my son was first learning how to drive, I expected my husband to be the one behind the wheel with him at all times. However, it soon made more sense for me to be in that role. I was really nervous about it, but then my husband had me come with during one of their driving lessons so I could see what it was like. After that, it was smooth sailing. Yes, we did have our moments where I wish I had the emergency brake on my side of the car. However, he did a really good job overall. He's very cautious and responsible and takes every driving critique to heart. It was nice having bonding time being in the car with him and it reminded me of when I would drive my dad to school before he took the car to work during my permit period. 

My son also took three lessons from the driving school, which was really helpful to enhance everything he was practicing with me. The first time, the instructor took him out on the highway. That's something we haven't even attempted with him yet. If he really needs to go anywhere on the highway, we can cross that bridge when we come to it, but right now he's mostly driving within a few miles of our house. 

These days, the biggest challenge is sorting out schedules when he has one car and my husband and I have to share the other one. Thankfully we both work at home, but if either of us has to go on an errand and the other one also has something going on, that can be complicated. Like the one time I was supposed to pick my daughter up early from school and my husband had to go to the dentist. Thankfully, my husband was able to do the pickup afterward. The current advantage is that my oldest has been driving his sister to and from camp, which will change when he's no longer working at the camp next week. I also like that we can now listen to music together when he's driving, and it's always Broadway. :)

We do have rules for when he's driving without us in the car. He needs to let us know when he gets someplace and when he's leaving. Not much to ask in this age of cell phones. I am sure I have already received my karma from the time I forgot to call my parents when I got to school in my early days of driving (from the phone that only works when it's plugged into the car). Hence, the Starbucks incident. 

Taken last week when we went to a show together

In a couple of years, it will be my younger son's turn behind the wheel and I am NOT ready for that at all. Here's hoping it will be just as easy the second time around....

If you are raising a teenager, tell us about your experience. Otherwise, tell us what you were like as a teenager.

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1 comment:

dstoutholcomb said...

Entering senior year with the youngest. Last round of college tours in a few weeks, ACT, then it's application time as the school year starts.

The youngest, despite the pandemic, has been the easiest kid to raise. (knock on wood) He has the advantage of seeing what the older brothers did right and wrong, but he's also his own person, doing his own thing.