Dear Struggling Parents, It’s Not Just You. Parenting Teens is Hard

We need to be far more honest and open about the challenges of raising teenagers...

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: Dear Struggling Parents, It’s Not Just You. Parenting Teens is Hard

I remember when my kids were little, the moms in my neighborhood would get together weekly for “Mom and me playdates.” While the kids played, us moms would pour our hearts out to one another about the exhausting challenges of raising toddlers.

The temper tantrums, the bedtime fits, the fear of them not meeting major milestones… we were there for each other.

But life shifts when your kids become older. Not only do parents get sidetracked by their kids’ busy lives leaving little room for day-to-day friendship, but there seems to be a “hush” that comes over parents.

No one really wants to talk about their struggles, their kids’ mistakes or failing grades, the fact that their kid got caught cheating or stealing or smoking weed, or how they’re trying to deal with their kid’s sudden defiance. No one really wants to let the world in on the fact that their kid isn’t perfect. Oh, but we should... because NO teen is perfect and neither are we. 

Whether we chat in person, on the phone, via text, or through social media, parents of teens still need the same support they needed when their kids were young… maybe more. We need to talk about how hard it is to parent teens a whole lot more… because this isn’t easy.

Dear Struggling Parents, It’s Not Just You. Parenting Teens is Hard


We need to be more honest about how we’re struggling, how exhausting it is physically and mentally, how much sleep we lose worrying about our teens when they’re behind the wheel of a car, hanging out with friends facing peer pressure, and how we pray every single night that our words of wisdom and lectures will sink in and that they’ll make the right decision when the chips are down.

We need to talk about how our sweet, clingy, “I love to be with you,” child disappears into thin air when puberty hits and how dragging them away from their friends or out of their bedrooms takes an act of God.

We need to admit to one another how hard we’re trying to connect with our teens, how many times we ask them places (and they turn us down), how they don’t seem to need us that much anymore, and how hard it is to accept that our babies are growing up. 

We need to talk about how much it hurts our hearts when they roll their eyes at us, sigh heavily, slam a door because we made a decision that’s in their best interest, and how blindsided we were when they talked back disrespectfully the first time.

Oh, and can we please talk about how utterly difficult it is to NOT take our kid’s sass, eye-rolls, and slamming door personally? How the h#ll is that possible? We bore these children from our wombs. They mean everything to us. Of course, we take it personally when they merely tolerate us, don’t want to spend time with us, question our every parenting decision, or worse yet, act like they hate us. 

We need to talk about how much we miss our kids long before they leave the nest, how much we wish we could wrap them in a big hug (without them running for cover), and how much we miss their littleness with a force that takes our breath away.

We need to share our stories about how lonely we feel at times, that the village we leaned on so heavily when our kids were young seems to have faded into the distance, and how we’re faced with raising our kids during the most tumultuous times of their lives solo. 

We need to admit, too, that it’s not just moms who struggle with all of this. Dads feel just as deeply. And, although they may handle it differently, they battle with these intense changes and challenges just as much as mothers do.

We need to open our hearts to one another about how desperately we try to remove ourselves from the competitiveness of parenting and focus solely on our kids and their strengths and capabilities, but how we still get sucked into wanting our kids to succeed, hoping they’ll pull good grades and get into a “good” college and make us proud. 

We need to be far more honest about how difficult it is to watch our kids make (sometimes colossal) mistakes and allow them to face the natural consequences of their actions and how, as much as we’d like to protect our kids in bubble wrap and make important life choices for them, this is their life and we have to give them the freedom to follow their path, their goals, and their dreams.

And, can we please talk about how our kids are growing up in a completely different era than we did, and understanding and relating to what their life is really like takes a conscious effort on our part? Cell phones, social media, technology… the daily life of our teenagers is a far cry from our daily life when we were their age. 

Let’s also talk about how much we all question ourselves… are we being too hard on our kids, not hard enough, too patient, not patient enough, too protective, not protective enough. Are we raising them right? Will they turn out okay? Will they outgrow this stage? Will they EVER learn to pick up their wet towels, or put a dish in the dishwasher and will they grow up to be total slobs because if their bedroom is any indication, there’s literally no hope? 

And, finally, we need to talk more about how hard we’re trying, that we really are all in this together, and how we should be sharing our journies with each other – the good, the bad, the wonderful, and the heart-wrenching challenges. We can gain so much strength from one another, so much insight and guidance and so much comfort when we hear, “Oh, I tried this and it worked,” advice. And, how amazing it would feel to just get a hug from someone who’s traveled the path before us or a phone call or text from another parent that says, “You’re doing so much better than you think you are… don’t question yourself!” 

Please don’t view me as negative or think I’m only focusing only on the “hard” of raising our teens. I could write 100 posts about how amazing it is to raise our teens.

How rewarding it is. How amazing it is to see them blossom into mature, capable, wonderful adults. How precious and fun it is to see their personalities unfold right before our very eyes with their own unique perspectives, opinions, and wit. How once you turn the corner with them they become not only your kids but beautiful, trusted, life-long friends.

Raising our kids is truly a gift and blessing… but it’s also really hard. 

If you’re struggling,

if you’re questioning yourself,

if you’re finding yourself at a loss on how to parent this new defiant, independence-seeking kid,

if you’re tired all the time because you’re losing sleep worrying about, well… pretty much everything,

if you’re in desperate need of a village that seems to have its doors shut, 

if you whisper to yourself in the quiet of the night… “This is so hard and I’m not sure I’m getting it right.”

You’re not alone… this really IS hard.

If you enjoyed reading, “Dear Struggling Parents, It’s Not Just You. Parenting Teens is Hard ” you might enjoy reading these other posts, too. 

To The Mom Whose Heart is Heavy for Her Child, You Are Not Alone

What Teenagers Really Need From Their Parents

When Your Teen Feels So Far Away… Here’s How to Bring Them Closer

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Diane August 16, 2023 - 1:52 pm

Thankyou the timing of finding this literally dragged me back from a dark spiralling hole, a virtual drying of my tears & the feeling of hope that comes from learning something new or remembering something buried your already knew. Thankyou xx

Nancy Reynolds August 17, 2023 - 7:55 am

You’re so welcome! Every parent feels a little lost and as though they’re spiralling down a hole, at times. I’m so happy to hear this post made you feel far less alone and brought you a sense of hope. You’re not alone… xo


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