Not to brag or anything, but my oldest daughter has a fully developed frontal cortex.
I remember the teenage years like they were yesterday. Driving to school in awkward silence, slammed doors, eye rolls, tense conversations, and my favorite…the day she informed me that she just couldn’t wait “to get the hell out of this house!”
It’ll get better, they tell you. It doesn’t last forever, they say. Just hang in there.
And they’re absolutely right.
There’s more than just raging hormones going on in our kiddos’ bodies that make them act like crazies. The prefrontal lobe—the part of the brain responsible for moderating behavior and decision making—isn’t fully formed until the mid 20’s.
My daughter, Kate, turned 25 this year and we made it. Having a friendship with your #adulting “kid” is the best. She’s fun. She’s lovely. She’s big and brave and strong and smart. And even though she’s “just not that into nature”, we still find amazing family bonding adventures to enjoy together. Whether it’s binge-watching The Crown or road-tripping up the California coast, I’ve learned from parenting her that my most important job as a mom isn’t DOING all the right things, but BEING present and cultivating strong relationships with my kiddos.
I get it. The growing up phases are tough. I’m now on my THIRD teenager and I’ve walked through friend drama, relationship drama, school drama, and I’m the absolute WORST mama ever drama.
But in the words of Claire Colburn from the movie Elizabethtown, “We are intrepid. We carry on.”
It gets better.
This year, as I’m navigating through some of the biggest parenting challenges I’ve faced yet, I heard the words from my firstborn that I longed for but could only dare to dream:
“It’s gonna be ok. You’re a good mom.”
Friends, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I recently asked my daughter her perspective about how she thinks we survived the “hell years”. I also asked her what her best insights are for moms of tweens and teens.
Tips from a Former Teen on How to Stay Close to Your Teenagers
“Talk to your kids about your life! I took it for granted at the time, but now that I’m older and have friends whose parents didn’t do this, I see the value in it! I joke with my mom all the time that I learned through her mistakes. She talked with me about her own struggles as a teenager, told stories from her time in corporate America, confided about things she was experiencing while dating, all things that I could gain life lessons from without her actually lecturing me. Lol! Now that I’m older, and because she laid the foundation that we can talk about anything, I can ask her questions or seek her advice in areas that most others would ask their friends for instead of their parents. That is so special to me. “
“Make your relationship the priority. There were years of tension between me and my mom, but now we’re on the other side of that because we have a relationship that is FUN, and based on trust, transparency, and candor. And wit, good Lord, the WIT!”
Kate’s parting words of encouragement to moms of tweens and teens
“It gets better! That is such a cliche but it’s so true. When I was a teenager, I never wanted to talk to my mom about stuff. Now, I call or text her for the most random reasons, and I know I’ll get an ‘awesometown!’ or I can call her crying, and she’ll help me sort out what I’m feeling.”
And there you have it, friends…there’s hope! If you’d have told me years ago that one day my daughter and I would write an article like this together, I wouldn’t have believed you.
So hang in there, moms of teens and tweens. Keep the two-way lines of communication open and remember that it’s all about relationship, so have a little fun along the way. There are many more years of friendship with your adult kiddo ahead that make this brief season of struggle so. worth. it.
It’s gonna be ok. You’re a good mom.