November 6, 2012
How many of you out there are parents of teenagers? Let me start out today by just saying this: Bless you. Parenting teenagers has to have been the most challenging, trying time in our parenting careers, and as happy as I am that we all came through it pretty much unscathed, I wouldn’t go back to that time again for any amount of money.
My husband and I have raised four children, the youngest of which is now 20 years old (she’ll remind me later that she’s nearly 21). All of our children are absolutely amazing young adults, and we treasure every minute we get to spend with them. Getting to this point, however, was not easy.
A teenager – and I’m going to just come right out and say it – especially a teen girl, can be a random cross between a kitten and an angry badger. The trick is that you never know for sure which one will walk through the door after school, do you? You have to be prepared for anything, all the time. Oh sure, boys bring their own challenges with them – namely speed and loud noises - but in my experience our son was pretty straight forward, black and white, what you see is what you get.
During the teen years, our girls took my husband and me on a neck-jerking emotional roller coaster ride, with highs that would make our stomachs flip and lows that made us want to crawl in bed and hide for days. I remember crying, stomping, eye-rolling, sighing and stormy silence – and that was me, not them.
There is a payoff, just in case you’re in the middle of parenting a teenager and at the end of your rope. It’s almost as if those turbulent years were the last throes of at-home parenting, putting the final touches on both the children and on us before they left our home to make their own.
We had all the children at our house recently (a rare occurrence now that they’re grown and busy), and all we did was have dinner together and sit around a bonfire, talking. It was so pleasant, and it made us happy to just hang out with them. We’re proud of our children, as I feel sure most parents are. By this stage, the scars are pretty much faded, the vague memories of doing battle no more than just that.
I do have to admit one thing, though. I don’t think they’re on to us yet, but my husband and I catch ourselves every now and then, sizing all four of them up to see which of them is most likely to take care of us in our old age.
The jury’s still out on that one.
Carole Townsend is also a Gwinnett Daily Post staff correspondent and author of two books: “Southern Fried White Trash” and her newest, “Red Lipstick and Clean Underwear” (released October 15). She is also a regular weekly guest on FOX News Radio station WYXC 1270 AM on Wednesdays during the Live Drive at 5. Townsend has been quoted on msnbc.com, in the LA Times, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor, been featured on FOX 5 Television News and CNN, and is often a guest on television and radio shows nationwide. She currently travels throughout the southeast, meeting readers at book signings and speaking publicly at various events.