Kristina Beers
: Parenting teens has its ups and downs

By Kristina Beers

Special to the Pioneer
Do you ever look at your kids and wonder, “Where on earth did you come from?” or had random thoughts ranging from “How much could I sell him for?” to “I wonder if the zoo is taking donations in human form?” …  Nobody? Just me? Huh.

The saying goes, “When mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Aside from the deplorable grammar, this resonates with most families, I imagine. Having teenage boys makes the above thoughts float to the surface more, yet I have no trouble recalling how oftentimes the hardest struggles reap the biggest and best rewards. It’s worth it. Plus, you get great stories to share years from now at the family dinner table!

This weekend brought some new strife and maturing attitudes in the three boys still at home. It’s a grand thing to see your son grow into a fine young man, but disconcerting that your baby is forming thoughts and ideas that may not match with yours. My patience was wearing thin and my bad attitude came shining through in the form of nitpicking. The house wasn’t such a warm refuge for said teens and they split every time I came around lest I added another chore or admonishment. Mama wasn’t happy.

After working through the stress and making amends with each kid, I got a good sense of how, when one of the main players in a family isn’t functioning well, nothing stays in balance and essential conversations are missed. That’s not very healthy and stunts proper development in the kids. If I stayed in the trenches of my mind complaining about all the various things my teen does, tries to get away with, asks me to do (when not only is he perfectly capable, it’s his job in the first place), doesn’t do when he’s asked to do, “forgets,” or needs paid for, I can go a little nutso. For me, when I feel out of control (which I easily fall prey to) I go overboard on the order of the house and bark. A lot.

Luckily, I’ve got a lot of experience and this is not my first rodeo. I’ve been through it and I know I will survive (cue Gloria Gaynor). I also have my secret weapon: a strong marriage. My loving husband is a great father, an essential piece for any teenage boy and helps to keep me grounded. He levels my temper out when it’s necessary.

We both have better tactics now that we are rounding the corner into the younger batch of boys and have each other to keep at the forefront the knowledge “This, too, shall pass.” Currently, the poor baby boy (I say that sarcastically) is suffering from what he perceives as a serious lack of choice. I simply shrug my shoulders with an “Oh, well.” I truly don’t care, he doesn’t get a choice. He’s 14 and we’re the parents. Period.

There is another saying, “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.” That sums up parenting in a nutshell. Babies wail; a toddler can make more of a mess than you ever thought humanly possible; an adolescent will stun you with his impulsiveness; a teenager will make the dumbest choices.

So too are babies cuddly and adorable; a toddler loves voraciously and is quite hilarious; an adolescent will stun you with his keen ability to learn; a teenager will make a mature choice. The joy is there, sometimes hidden behind a soiled diaper or a dented fender, but it’s there. Take the time to seek the joy, have a good laugh (or cry because that’s helpful, too) and settle in for a raucous dinner with your kids years from now.

Kristina Beers lives in the Remus area with her husband and five sons. She shares her thoughts on parenting teenagers and young adults on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

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