When Your Kids Become Teenagers, That’s When the REAL Worry Kicks In

Sometimes, it's so consuming you can barely breathe...

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: When Your Kids Become Teenagers, That’s When the REAL Worry Kicks In

Written by: Raising Teens Today

When my kids were toddlers, I used to worry that they’d fall off the monkey bars and skin their knee or that they’d trip going down the stairs and chip a tooth.

Now that they’re teenagers, I worry that they’ll make a life-altering decision, that they’ll get distracted and take their eyes off the road when they’re driving, or that they’ll get sucked into peer pressure and do something dangerous. The stakes are so much higher now…

Oh, every parent of teens knows, the worry when your kids become teenagers is so overwhelming and consuming that sometimes, you can barely breathe.

I lie awake far too many nights worrying, hoping, and praying that my kids will come home safe, make good choices, and that, in the end, everything will turn out okay. I’m caught between wanting so desperately to protect them like I did when they were little and talking myself down from my mountain of worry, putting things in God’s hands, and allowing them to venture out into the world without me.

The truth is, as a mom of teens, I never imagined I’d worry THIS much.

But I’ve learned that all that draining, exhausting worrying and endless sleepless nights won’t change the outcome of any situation. The only thing that can help is staying close to my kids, talking to them about my worries and fears (without freaking them out or making them run for cover), and doing my absolute best to educate and prepare them for life. 

Here are a few of my greatest worries as a mom of teens and how I manage them.

When Your Kids Become Teenagers, That’s When the REAL Worry Kicks In


1. That Peer Pressure Will Get the Best of Them

I worry they’ll try drugs, get drunk, have unprotected sex, or do something dangerous or stupid or life-altering in the face of peer pressure. Don’t get me wrong. I know my kids are going to experiment and that they’re going to make mistakes. I also know that being a teen is hard. They want to fit in and be accepted and they don’t want to be viewed as a prude, uncool, or someone who “doesn’t know how to have a good time.”

TIP to Keep Your Worry in Check: Rather than sending our kids into the world to face difficult situations on their own, we need to equip them with the tools (quite possibly an arsenal) to face peer pressure head-on. Arm your kids with the strength to handle peer pressure: 13 Genius Ways to Help Get Your Teen Out of a Tight Spot

2. That They’ll Get Distracted When Driving

This is a BIG worry for most parents. Will they text and drive? Will they pile too many kids in the car, crank up the music and take their eyes off the road? Will they become so comfortable driving that they become complacent? Even if our teens are responsible drivers, we still worry about every other driver on the road.

TIP to Keep Your Worry in Check: We’re always going to have concerns when our kids hit the road, that’s a given. But there are a few things we can do to mitigate the worry. For starters, talk to your teen about how to avoid distractions when driving, and educate them about the statistics (even if they are scary) so they realize the possible outcome. Teach them not only how to drive, but defensive driving techniques as well so they’re better equipped in certain situations.

3. That They’re Quietly Suffering in Some Way

Are they struggling with their mental health? Are they being bullied and stoically trying to keep it from me? Are they lonely? Do they feel inadequate or inferior? Are they okay when they escape to their bedroom for hours? We want our teens to know that they can come to us about anything, but we also know that teens are notoriously tight-lipped. 

TIP to Keep Your Worry in Check: With teenagers, it’s so important to keep the lines of communication open. Let your teen know they can call you and come to you about anything any time, day or night. Ask open-ended questions about their day, get to know their friends, stay attuned to their lives and go out of your way to stay connected and close to them. Our ultimate goal is to make sure our kids know that they can confide in us about the little stuff AND the big stuff and we’ll listen with a compassionate, non-judgemental ear. (That doesn’t mean we won’t freak out from time to time…)

4. That I’m Being Too Lenient or Not Lenient Enough

Are we being too tough on our kids and suffocating them with so many rules and boundaries that they feel compelled to rebel, sneak behind our backs, or start lying? Or, are we being too lenient and (with all good intentions, of course), allowing them to play us like a violin? We truly want to do what’s best for our kids, but knowing what that ‘best” is can be difficult. 

TIP to Keep Your Worry in Check: When our kids become teenagers, the trick is to protect them without helicoptering (easier said than done, I know) and put consequences in place that are fair and reasonable and make sense – not only to us but also to our teens.

5. That They’ll Make a Life-Altering Bad Decision

The older our kids get, the more we need to loosen our grip and release them into the world. The hard part is, the world is a dangerous place and there are temptations everywhere. Even one crummy decision can change the trajectory of their lives and that’s enough to keep us awake at night. Will they do something illegal and get arrested? Will they take a pill from a friend and think “I’ll try it this one time?” All those “what if” scenarios are exhausting!

TIP to Keep Your Worry in Check: The hardest part about raising teenagers is slowly letting go… day after day, year after year, we loosen our grip just a little more. That’s when we have to trust them and ourselves – that we’ve done the best we can to prepare and empower them with the morals, values, and confidence to face this world without us – all while knowing that we’ll always have their back. 

6. That They’re On the Right Path

We try not to, but we worry… about their grades, their GPA, that they turned in that assignment that was due, that they’ll get into a decent college (should they decide to go), that they’ll choose a good career path, find a good job and lead a fruitful life. Our brain doesn’t just focus on today, we worry about tomorrow, next month, next year, and their entire future. 

TIP to Keep Your Worry in Check: As much as we’d love to hold their hand and lead them down the path of their future, we can’t. Our kids need to figure out on their own what their future holds – their passions, their goals, their dreams. Sure, we can guide them, but this is one journey they need to take on their own. (Don’t worry… you taught them well!)

7. That They Know My Love is Unshakable

I hope and pray my kids always know that nothing can shake my love for them. Nothing. I never want them to feel alone in this world or that they can’t come to me. Whether they made a mistake, got caught doing something they shouldn’t have, or broke a steadfast rule in our house, I want them to know we’re a team, we’ll get through it together and we’ll come out stronger on the other end. 

TIP to Keep Your Worry in Check: Love your teen hard every single day. On their good days, crummy days, and every day in between, keep on loving them through it all. If they feel loved and safe and secure and cherished, they WILL come to you, they WILL confide in you, and they WILL run to you (instead of away from you) when they mess up or life gets hard.

Final Thoughts

The more stressed out, worried, and anxious we are, the more it will be absorbed by our teens. And, our teens have enough pressure on them already to navigate a complex (often scary) world. Help your teen learn to “adult” by being the “steady” in their life and teaching them (by example) how to put worry in its place.

If you enjoyed reading, “When Your Kids Become Teenagers, That’s When the REAL Worry Kicks In,” you might like these posts, too!

12 Ways to Protect Your Teen (Without Helicoptering)

How to Get Your Teen to Confide in You Even With the Big Stuff

Parents of Teens, Keep Showing Up Even When It’s Hard

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