I belong to a writing group of parents of teens. My boys are grown but I got asked in because I write for parents of teens. I’m so grateful. We all challenge each other.
One “rut” we keep getting stuck in is how lonely it is to parent teens. When you are parenting littles you can find plenty of advice and support. There are hundreds of mommy blogs full of good advice. And being vulnerable with other parents in your real world life is not that hard. Probably because issues with diaper training or 6-year old obedience rules do not reflect on you as a failure as a parent.
As a parent of a teen, you already feel inadequate. And then your beloved’s strange adolescent development behavior makes you feel like a failure. Like every common sense thing you ever taught him/her was never learned. Like you don’t even know how to begin to answer that question you were asked. Like you don’t ever remember going through something that painful when you were 14 and you have no idea how to encourage or how to give advice.
So parenting teens becomes this lonely journey. But it should not be so! Yes, says the youth pastor with grown teens (who were far from normal, do you know my story?). Yes I’m not in your situation but it doesn’t make me wrong.
Proactively find your people. Intentionally find people who share your same values and be vulnerable with them. Your people should include those who are just ahead of you in these teen years so you can learn from them—and find out that you are normal. Your people should also include those who are just behind you so you can encourage them so they can also know that they are normal.
Together someone may feel confident about parenting life. Or together you can build each other’s confidence by telling each other truths. Laughter will also help. Laughing together has magical powers in painful times.
Then there is prayer which can supernaturally open up possibilities. Pray together. That also feels like comforting support.
Here is a truth: What you are going through is not special or unique. Teens are just crazy. Or more accurately, going through the greatest overall development of their entire lives since the age of two. 2-year olds are much cuter than 14-year olds because you innately carry much more authority. The 14-year old may be as tall as you. May be more technologically advanced than you. May be smarter than you (at least they understand algebra). May not be able to crawl into your lap so you can “make it all better.” And most importantly, may be triggering inside you unresolved areas of your life that go back to your adolescence that are not healed yet.
You need to stop parenting by yourself and find your circle of people. You need to trust these people. Don’t let that word trust scare you.
Parenting a teen already scares you. Feeling like you could be exposed as the failure you feel you are scares you. To trust others when your feeling of failure is so heightened is extra hard. You still need to do it. Your teen needs you to do it also because you all know that your teen needs those other influential adults in his/her life to help navigate the newness of adolescence experiences. Why not intentionally set your teen up with these wise adults who are also in your circle? Ask these adults to be a part of your teen’s 5:1 (the research-proven ratio all teens need—5 adults to 1 teen).
How about asking your teen whom he/she wants to be in this circle?
Lean into the vulnerability of this. There will be moments that you will want to hide and then there will be moments when you never ever ever ever want to grow through your teen’s years without these people.
And you will be stinking proud on that graduation day when your teen thanks these people in your circle for being there for him/her through it all. You will be proud because you leaned into your vulnerability and made it happen. Your teen got a great gift from you. You may have received the greater gift though because you have beautiful vulnerable real friendships and a grateful grounded teen.