This post: 10 Things Every Parent Should Do When Their Kid Becomes a Teenager / Post updated 2023
As the mother of three teenagers, I’ve come to realize two very important things about life when your kids hit the teen years. One, no matter how much you try to prepare for it, the “teen” in your child will sneak up on you like a great white shark coming in for the kill. And two, if you don’t keep a sense of humor about it, you’ll be blindsided and swallowed whole.
I hate to be so melodramatic. The truth is, life as a parent of teenagers isn’t really all that bad if you’re prepared, that is. To make your life just a tad easier, I’m handing out a few tidbits of advice to help you skate through the next seven years like a pro. Here are 10 things every parent should do when their kid becomes a teenager.
10 Things Every Parent Should When Their Kid Becomes a Teenager
#1 Buy Deodorant (The Industrial Strength Kind)
Step into any boy’s locker room in middle school and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Life with teenagers, to put it bluntly, is just, well… downright smelly. They haven’t quite adjusted to the idea that they even need deodorant, let alone remembering to use it every day. So, the second your kid hits 13, stock up on a ton of deodorant (the industrial strength kind) before the wafting, smelly odor permeates every crevice of your house.
#2 Buy a Bigger Laundry Basket
Teenagers love changing clothes. And, since they have absolutely no recollection of what they actually wore versus what they’ve tried on and threw on the floor, (especially girls), they typically end up throwing everything on their bedroom floor where it gets lost in the sea of other clothes they’ve worn… or not.
So, be prepared to do a truckload of laundry. A good rule of thumb here is, the bigger the laundry basket the better.
And, you can forget about ever seeing the bottom of the laundry basket – it basically becomes a never-ending sinkhole lost in a chasm of dirty clothes. Just buy the mega-size bottles of clothes detergent and keep your washing machine going 24/7 and you’ll be just fine.
#3 Buy a Bigger Car for Groceries
If you haven’t figured this out yet, teenagers are eating machines. From the moment they wake up until the time they go to bed, they’re eating or munching on something. So, for all you Prius owners out there, if you have any hope of fitting all those groceries in your car, you might want to consider trading it in for a larger vehicle – like a Chevy Tahoe – something capable of holding the size of a small canoe.
#4 Be Prepared to Cash Out Big Bucks for Cell Phones
In the last six years, my husband and I have hashed out cash for ten cell phones. Yeah, you think I’m kidding, but I’m not. Teens are clumsy and forgetful. If they aren’t accidentally dropping their phone in the toilet or jumping in the pool with it, they’re dropping it on the concrete or smashing it in the door. Even if you’re one of the lucky ones who has a teen who isn’t clumsy or forgetful with their phone, don’t go getting too excited. You’re still not out of the woods. Chances are you’re still going to get pounded when iPhone announces the next latest and greatest phone.
#5 Brace Yourself for Less Eye Contact
If you thought your teenager would continue to interact with you like a normal human being once they become a teenager, you might want to brace yourself. Their cell phones take center stage in their lives as their new best friend.
There’s an invisible tether that bonds the two together like glue. Try to separate them and you’ll regret it. And, the idea of making any real eye contact with your teen ends up being a fleeting memory unless, of course, you duck way down next to their cell phone in hopes of getting a quick annoying glance, which is the best you could hope for under the circumstances.
#6 Throw the Word “Clean” Completely Out of Your Vocabulary
I used to take pride in my home. I loved the sparkle of a clean kitchen and I loved seeing those tracks in the carpeting when I finished vacuuming. Now, I strive to clean just one room at a time which means that on any given day, during any given month, during any given year, my entire house is never clean all at the same time. It’s a trade-off, teenagers or a clean house. The two shall never meet. Teens are messy and, honestly, I’m convinced they just can’t help it. Even with a plate under their food, they still manage to leave a trail of crumbs in their wake.
#7 Shut Their Bedroom Door
I can’t emphasize this one enough. When kids turn into teenagers their brain is apparently so busy growing that certain mundane tasks they once knew how to perform quite well are temporarily placed in a holding file until they reach adulthood. Suddenly… they’re clueless.
Things like folding clothes, putting things away in a drawer, putting the shampoo top back on the bottle, and closing cabinet doors are a thing of the past. Essentially, they become, well… slobs.
The important thing here is not to panic. If the pile of stuff on their bedroom floor is less than four inches deep (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little here ) you’re actually doing alright. I would suggest, however, opening their bedroom window every now and then to let their room air out.
#8 Track Them So You Don’t Lose Them
While some parents opt not to choose this mechanism to keep tabs on their kids, I for one, find it very useful and comforting (not to hound my kids, but just for the comfort of knowing they’re alive). Without it, I’m sure I’d lose them in the abyss. Do you know why? Teens are quick. Just like they were when they were toddlers, they never stay put for very long – especially when they start driving.
So, while they may tell you they’re going to their friend’s house for the afternoon, what they aren’t telling you is that they’re actually going to twelve different friends’ houses. Keeping up with them is like trying to chase a racehorse in a golf cart. It’s just not going to happen.
#9 Buy a Dog
Teenagers aren’t big on affection. Oh, sure, every once in a while you’ll get a sweet hug or a “Hey mom, will you rub my back?” (which, of course, you jump at the chance) but, more often than not, they’re far too “cool” to be giving or receiving any form of affection. Your best bet is to buy a dog. At least that way you’ll have someone to greet you when you walk in the door and someone who actually makes direct eye contact with you from time to time.
#10 Tell Yourself Over and Over “This Too Shall Pass”
Life with teenagers can be challenging and exhausting, but it can also be rewarding and (dare I say) fun. Try not to sweat the small stuff, pick your mountains to die on (hold the lectures if at all possible), listen before you react, and relish in the changes in their lives. Most importantly, when you do have challenging days, keep telling yourself over and over, “This too shall pass,” and keep it in perspective. As hard as it is to believe, you’re going to miss these days when they’re gone.
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