23 Things That Threw Me for a Loop When My Kids Became Teenagers

Nothing Really Prepares You

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: 23 Things That Threw Me for a Loop When My Kids Became Teenagers

They say ignorance is bliss… well, when it comes to parenting teenagers, there might be at least some truth to that.

Seriously, you listen to the tales of other parents who have been there before you. You read articles. You toss out a few questions to friends and neighbors who are in the thick of it. Heck, you might even listen to a handful of Podcasts hoping to pick up a few pointers here and there before it’s your time to jump in with both feet. 

But, nothing… I mean nothing, really prepares you for the teen years. Whether you’re not quite there yet with your kids, you’re in the thick of raising your teens, or you’re nearing the end of the hormone-swinging years, here are 23 things that threw me for a loop when my kids became teenagers. Maybe you can relate…

23 Things That Threw Me for a Loop When My Kids Became Teenagers


#1 That Their Athletic Shoes Would Cost So Much

Sure, my kids could settle for off-brand athletic shoes, but nooo… they prefer name brands like Nike, Adidas, Reebok and Under Armour. “Mooom, it’s what all the kids are wearing!” Really??? All the kids?

#2 That They Would Be Hungry ALL the Time

It doesn’t matter how much food they consume, twenty minutes later they could eat again.

#3 That Suddenly, My Opinion Wouldn’t Matter Nearly as Much as My Support

They used to come to me for everything. My opinion, my insight, and my advice mattered to them. Now, they’re not looking for my opinion, for me to “fix” anything or to rescue them. They just want a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on and gentle advice only when they ask for it.

#4 That No Matter How Much Money I Spend, There Would Never Be Anything Good to Eat in the House

There’s nothing to eat.” “How come you only buy ingredients?” “You never buy anything good.” I could spend $250 on groceries, stock the fridge and pantry to the gills and they’d still complain that there’s nothing to eat.

#5 That I’d Always Have Free In-House Tech Support

Having an issue with my computer? No problem. Need someone to program the remote or reset the router? No problem. Having in-house tech support is one of the many perks of having teenagers in the house. (Now if they could just learn to load the dishwasher.)

#6 That Their Birthday/Christmas Wish List Would Equal the Cost of a Small Sedan

There was a time a bottle of bubbles, a coloring book or a new dump truck was on the top of my kids’ gift wish lists. Now, it’s iPhones, iPods, laptops and name-brand clothes.

#7 That I Would Worry So Much… About Everything

Oh, the worry… about their safety, their health, their well-being, that they’ll make good choices, that they’ll graduate, that they’ll find friends who love them for who they are, that they’re listening to anything I have to say. The mental load of mothering teenagers is exhausting.

#8 That They’d Watch Literally Everything I Do and Suddenly the Words “Role Model” Would Take on a Whole New Meaning

My kids watch everything I do – what I eat, what I wear, what I do in my spare time, how I conduct myself when I’m angry, how I handle stress…they’re watching and they’re learning. Talk about pressure…

#9 That They’d Become Night Owls

I used to tuck my kids in bed every night. Now they tuck me in. 

#10 That My Heart Would Start to Feel “The Empty Nest Syndrome” Long Before They Left for College or Moved Out

No one tells you that you begin to feel a sense of loss, loneliness and longing for the past WAY before your kids actually leave the nest.

#11 That I’d Cry So Many Tears of Happiness, Pride, Worry and Frustration

Tears, so many tears… frustration, anger, upset, pride, sheer joy, worry. The roller coaster of emotions teens feel during the years when they’re learning to adult is the same for parents. We’re on that crazy ride right alongside them.

#12 That They’d Want Nothing to Do with Me… Until They Needed a Ride, a Backrub, a Grilled Cheese Sandwich or a Listening Ear at 11 O’clock at Night

It’s funny how self-absorbed teenagers are (I’m convinced they can’t help it), until, that is, they need something – a ride, help with their homework, money, a back rub or for me to listen about their day when I’m exhausted at 11 o’clock at night and need toothpicks to keep my eyes open. (Still… of course, I do because I never want to miss out on those precious moments.)

#13 That So Many of Our Conversations Would Revolve Around Basic Hygiene

Did you take a shower? Did you put on deodorant? Didn’t you wear that shirt yesterday? Did you use soap? When was the last time you brushed your teeth?

#14 That They’d Sleep SO Much

Forget the term, “sleeping like a baby.” I want to sleep like a teenager. Forget “Good morning” on weekends. With teenagers, it’s “Good afternoon.” 

#15 That Their Bedroom Would Become their Sanctuary and That I Would Only Be Invited in on Their Terms

It’s their little corner of the world. I’ve come to respect that. I’ll always keep knocking. I’ll always check up on them. I’ll always make sure they feel loved. But when they need their space, I give it to them. They need that time to figure out who they are.

#16 That I’d Age 10 Years When They Started Driving (and Another Five When They Drove Off By Themselves)

Hands down, teaching my kids how to drive was the most stressful, exhausting, and worrisome thing I’ve had to do. Yeah, but wait. I realized it gets even more stressful when they pull out of the driveway by themselves. (Hence, the reason most moms of teens have circles under their eyes.)

#17 That They’d Whine as Much as They Did When They Were Toddlers

I was sure that by the time my kids outgrew the toddler years the whining would come to an end. It doesn’t happen quite as often, but man, when they want something, their whining will wear you down to the core.

#18 That I’d Cling So Tightly to Moments

I used to think I had all the time in the world with my kids. Now I’ve realized that everything pales in comparison to our time together. Once it’s gone, I can never get it back. I’m grabbing every single moment I can, while I still can.

#19 That Their Wit, Insight, and Wisdom About the World Around Them Would Blow Me Away Like it Does

Every once in a while, my kids will belt out a one-liner that’s hilarious or offer insight or an opinion about something that’s happening in the world. That’s when you know your kids are growing up and maturing. It’s one of the coolest parts about raising teenagers.

#20 That I’d Cry SO Hard When I Dropped Them Off at College

I wish someone had prepared me… nothing hits you harder than that final goodbye at college drop-off. It’s like being emotionally slammed by a moving freight train.

#21 That Raising Human Beings During the Most Emotionally Tumultuous Time of Their Lives Would Be So Demanding, Exhausting and Rewarding

There have been days I’ve felt like I’m failing, days I’ve wanted to give up, days I don’t like my kids very much. But, despite the tough days, when I see glimpses of who they’re becoming, it reminds me that maybe I am doing something right. And, THAT’S what keeps me going.

#22 That Life Would Get a Little Easier, But a Whole Lot Harder at the Same Time

I was convinced that nothing could be harder than having a baby or toddler in the house and that once my kids hit the teen years, I’d be on easy street. Boy, was I wrong. Mothering teenagers nearly breaks you.

#23 That Having a Front-Row Seat as They Grow and Mature into the Wonderful Human Beings They’re Becoming Would Be the Greatest Joy of My Life

Having a front-row seat on their journey to adulthood has been the greatest joy of my life. Has it been easy? Hell no. Have we had our share of bumps in the road? We sure have. But I wouldn’t trade this amazing journey with my kids for anything in the world.

If you enjoyed, “23 Things That Threw Me for a Loop When My Kids Became Teenagers,” here are a few other posts you might enjoy reading:

25 Things That Surprised Me About Having a Teen Girl

25 Things That Surprised Me About Having a Teen Boy

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