parenting teens
Adoption and Family,  adoption and tweens,  family,  parenting

The Art of Hope and Parenting Teens

parenting teens
Last month at a high school orientation event
active family travel Belize
Payton on the boat getting ready to snorkel

At some point this past year I realized my children aren’t really children anymore, not in the strictest sense of the word. One is a teenager and the other a tween and that means that in the context of child development they are in fact closer to being adults than they are to being toddlers or preschoolers or children. My heart simultaneously leaps, shouts, cries, expands and contracts as I write that. As they bloom so do I, and yet it also tugs heavily when I think that they will soon be adults. Oh my god how I hope we still have a lifetime together. How I hope I will still be writing when I am holding my grandchildren in my arms. How I hope.

parenting teens
parenting teens

Of course I am happy and I hope for them all things wonderful and bright and beautiful. Don’t get me wrong. I know this is the goal. I hope the world opens its arms and spreads a carpet of rose petals at their feet. I know full well what awaits and I realize the world rarely scatters roses, but more often more tosses thorns. Still I hope. I hope for poetry, even as I prepare for traffic jams and the occasional broken heart. Life might be beautiful and it might also be hard and scary. It is always precious.

parenting teens
parenting teens

Right now there is today. There is tomorrow too. All these small moments still to savour. All the days when they lay sleepily recovering from ear infections while I work downstairs just feet away able to hug when hugs are needed, to medicate when someone hollers or sneezes, to cuddle and talk and build on the relationship we started when they were each placed in my waiting arms.

Parenting these days is different. Parenting teens is not the same as parenting toddlers, even though I sometimes joke about the similarities on twitter. As they grow, this role, or job of parenting changes. You think well they will need me less this year and I will be okay with that, even though I will I miss carrying them in my arms from room to room, snuggling at bedtime in tiny toddler beds while reading Robert Munsch and Dr. Seuss. And they do, they grow these children of mine and I watch and love that I am able to see all of this happening. But their needs do not get smaller as I thought. They simply evolve.

parenting teens
About two years ago in Toronto at an event.

So what of this? What of the changing roles we have? How is it different? Instead of walking with them in my arms, they walk behind me, in front of me, and occasionally beside me. I suppose that is a gift of sorts that my 13 year old still enjoys being able to walk beside me, even hand in hand at times. I wait silently every week for her to suddenly outgrow this and feel embarrassed by me in the same way all teens are embarrassed by their parents. I secretly rejoice she is not there yet.

Our words now are the things we use as bridges to hold each other close and also stretch our wings. They are tethers and balloons in our hearts. Sometimes they are knives too. I am reminded of this when she launches into deep conversations that are moments to learn and build, grow and explore. They are every bit as sweet and important as the bedtime stories we shared.

parenting teens
Parenting these guys was so simple in some ways compared to these tween and teen moments

This week we registered for high school. I easily recall registering this talkative and social baby for kindergarten and now this new phase is almost here. We are both thrilled and excited and hopeful it will herald something great and new and educational. And to be honest we are also both worried in some small ways. High school can be difficult for many. Changes are extremely difficult for kids who are adopted. Often change is harder for our kids who still feel occasionally unanchored and torn because of their start in life. This week we chose electives and together we both poured over the options weighing them in our hands. How many arts courses are allowed? How many courses in French? High school is still a shiny penny in some ways.

We are both excited that high school allows for chances to carve out wide open hours of creativity. This is the thing that fuels both of our hearts. Together we have chosen some dramatic arts and visual arts as electives, believing these will be the places she fits and excels. So hard to pick just two of these courses. We are both alike in that we could fill our days with creative pursuits. I would much rather write than do my invoicing. She would much rather draw than do math. We are, in our small family, the most alike in personality. We are both July babies too.

Over this next year I hope she never stops talking. I hope that high school welcomes her with open arms and builds her strengths. I hope there are at least a couple of adults there who find her as special as I do. I hope she finds a teacher who will inspire her to carve a path through the future. Even just one teacher. That’s all it took for me was one special English teacher who cared and believed I had talent. I hope she continues to find her voice as she soars. I hope she never stops talking to me, dreaming with me, or holding my hand. I hope she continues to become a beautiful, creative young adult. I hope she dreams. I hope she asks. I hope she answers. I hope she creates. I hope she helps herself. I hope she helps others. I hope she opens doors and occasionally that others might hold them open for her. I hope we have chosen the right home for this all to unfold. I hope she feels safe. I hope she remembers her locker combination. I hope she very rarely discovers a rotting lunch left inside, forgotten. I hope she reads and writes and draws and sings and acts. I hope she sees this as she does a wide open sketch book and she draws her own story on all the pages. Mostly I hope.

parenting teens
parenting teens is a bit like this

Do you have teenagers? How is parenting them different? What are your hopes?

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.

33 Comments

  • Krystal

    My boys are so far away from being teenagers, and I am SO happy about that! I love them to pieces, and I already dread the day when they start to move away from me to be grown ups in their own right.

  • Robin (Masshole Mommy)

    My oldest is 10 1/2 and I am nervous about him entering his teen years. He is a good boy, but I know how I was when I was a teen and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

  • Jessica

    I am just entering the tween stage and already I can see the challenges. I am hopeful we can get through the next few years with as few bumps and bruises as possible. I hope that for you too 🙂

  • R U S S

    This is a sweet post – it’s nice to read what moms go through during those years. It must be tough, but children will always be glad to have their parents walk beside them during one of the most crucial years in their lives.

  • Fi Ní Neachtáin

    Aww, what a sweet post you wrote for your daughter. I hope she knows how much you love her. Good luck to her in high school, I hope she loves it.

  • Beth

    I don’t have any kids, but knowing how I was as a teenager, I’ll pray for you! Only joking (sort of, I was pretty horrible) but I hope your daughter someday reads this–preferably after her teen years– and knows how much she means to you!

  • Ashleigh Walls

    Oh you have me crying here thinking about my boys growing. I know everyone faces their children growing up differently but I’m so nervous for my oldest who has special needs,I can only hope that his future brings joy and happiness.

    • Paula

      Oh Ashleigh, hugs. I know that feeling. My youngest has special needs. Hard to plan too much for a future that you can’t imagine really yet. I hope for your child that they find someone who understands how wonderful and special they are.

  • sara

    My niece is about to exit her teen years and to me she is still a 5 year old in pigtails… How time flies! Thankfully I still have a few years until I get to face the teens with my boys, I’m wondering what those years will hold 🙂

  • Cara (@StylishGeek)

    Oh this is the age I’m actually dreading. Because of the drama that it could ensure. But as long as communication, mutual respect, trust, and affection is there then it should be okay. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughtful post!

    • Paula

      They are dramatic and argumentative at this age for sure. We also have some meaningful conversations though and that’s kind of great. Sometimes I am privy to having other people’s teens here and the self absorbedness of the age makes me kind of crazy. Mine isn;t there yet. Thank goodness.

  • Bonnie @ wemake7

    Yes I have a couple of teenagers and another one getting that close in age. I can’t believe my oldest is going to be 15 soon, it’s so scary that she is growing up and will soon be an adult.

    • Paula

      Wow. 15 is inching ever closer to adulthood for sure. It’s worrisome to think about them driving, dating and just growing more independent each day.

  • Gabriel Bregg

    I’ve got one through the teenage years and two more coming up fast (13 in a couple of weeks, actually along with one about to turn 12). The oldest two are both boys so it didn’t seem too bad but the soon to be 12 year old is the only girl and we are already seeing little flashes of the teen attitude. She is over all amazing though so I’m not too worried.

  • Eliz Frank

    This is so true. I remember when my kids were in diapers and getting potty trained. Then it was elementary school through high school and soon they will graduate from college. Time flies and we should make the best of every moment we share. Loved your post and photos.