This post: Parents of Teens, Keep Showing Up Even When It’s Hard
When my daughter was a freshman in high school, we went through a rough patch in our relationship. Pretty much everything I did annoyed her. I couldn’t do anything right. It didn’t matter what I said, what I did, or how calmly or compassionately I responded to her, I was, essentially, “the enemy.”
What made it particularly hard (and heartbreaking) is that my girl and I were always best buddies. She wanted to go everywhere with me. If I hopped in the car to run a 15-minute errand, she wanted to come. If I took a walk around the block after dinner, she would come, too. If I asked her if she wanted to watch a movie with me, grab a quick lunch, or hit the mall for a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon, she never turned me down.
But then… life as I knew it changed.
She started spending far more time with her friends. She spent more time behind a closed bedroom door Facetiming friends, texting or listening to music. She didn’t share her world with me nearly as much. Heck, she barely talked to me when she came in the door after school. And, oh, how I missed hearing about her day.
She didn’t want to be with me as much either and even started saying things like, “You don’t have to come to my game this weekend. I don’t really care if you come.” And, “I’m gonna hang with friends after the game on Saturday so you probably shouldn’t come.”
I’m here to tell you, parents, that ONE MOMENT was pivotal for me. I had a choice. I could cave into my daughter’s wishes and stop attending her games. After all, as agonizingly hard as it was for me to accept, clearly she didn’t want me there. OR, I could keep going.
I chose to SHOW UP.
Because even though she pretended she didn’t care, deep down inside I knew she wanted me there.
Because even though we were muddling through a rough patch, I never wanted her to question my love.
Because teenagers don’t always know what they need.
Because I desperately wanted and needed to be part of her world.
Because I had to push my ego aside and do what was in my daughter’s best interest long term.
Because I wanted my daughter to know that whether she’s having a great day or a hard day, whether she’s at her best or at her worst, she could count on me to be there, cheering her on.
Because I never wanted her to doubt- even for a moment – whether I’d show up during hard times.
It’s been a long journey, but here’s what I’ve learned in the trenches of raising my kids… no matter what, keep showing up.
Show up for their games, their recitals, their tournaments and their performances.
Show up on their good days, their bad days and every day in between.
Show up when they need you and even when they don’t.
Show up when it’s easy.
Show up when it’s hard.
Show up so they can see you.
Show up so they can count on you.
Show up so they know you’ll always be by their side.
Parenting teenagers is by far one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Sure, I had my share of challenges as a mom when my kids were babies, toddlers, and even when they were in elementary school. But those challenges couldn’t compare to what I faced when they became teenagers.
I felt as though every parenting trick and strategy in the book no longer worked. Everything I knew about showing my kids love, connecting with them and guiding them had to be rewritten. For a while, I was lost.
But I realized that no matter how big our kids get, how deep their voices get, how tall they get, and how independent they get, they still need so much of the same thing that we showered them with when they were little.
Our love and acceptance. Our guidance and a sense of structure in their lives. Our emotional support and a positive role model. Mostly, they need stability, consistency, and the comfort of knowing that their parents are (and always will be) steadfast in their commitment to see them through it ALL – no matter how damn hard it gets.
So, the next time your teen tells you that you don’t have to be there, look them in the eye and say, “But I WANT to be there.” And then, SHOW UP. Time and time again. Over and over. Just keep showing up.
Because nothing can convey our love for our kids more than by simply being present in their daily lives, showing interest in what interests them and sitting by the sidelines or sitting in the stands, bleachers or auditorium cheering them on. And, when you do, pay attention. Because at one point or another, just like my daughter did, your teen will look for you in the stands just like they looked for you when they were young. And, at that moment you’ll know how truly grateful they really are that you showed up…