Parenting a freshly ripened teen amounts to four words: “Weren’t you just born?” I say this to myself on a near-constant basis as I stand in front of a bedroom door that’s always closed.
I’m not exactly sure when the door-closing began, but it did, and I’m not even sure what goes on in there, but I do know this: I must knock before entry. And for some reason, I do.
There are a lot of rules now, and none of them are mine: I can’t sing any song, I definitely can’t dance, I can’t tousle hair, I’m not allowed to have any kind of fun, ask about school or friends, or generally exist.
These rules were established by someone who used to ride my leg and open the bathroom door because she couldn’t stand one minute without me. But now? I think I spend five solid minutes a day of quality time with my daughter, and that’s probably all she can stand.
And who can blame her? Being a 13-year-old girl is rough. When you’re that age it seems like you’ve been saddled with a never-ending to-do list of things that are going to ruin your life. Forgot to put on your deodorant? Looks like you need to stay 50 feet away from everyone at all times. Didn’t wash your face? Great, now there’s a gargantuan zit smack-dab in the middle of your forehead. Go to the dentist for a cleaning, and now there’s talk of covering your teeth with a chain link fence. Not to mention your chest buds are now full-on breasts, and the be-all-end-all of indignities arrives when you least expect it: your period.
I fully understand why my daughter feels the need to create boundaries with me. I’m exhausted just writing about the changes that happen when you’re in the throngs of puberty, let alone living through them. But I’ve been there too, and it’s important she know I have her back.
Here’s how to cope with the pettiness of puberty when your teen can’t even:
Her Door May Be Closed, But Mine Is Always Open
I’m here and that’s what’s most important. Of course I check in with her and sometimes even establish “mandatory open door hour,” but setting boundaries is par for the course of raising a teen. She needs her space, and I need to back off. I can’t swoop in and save her from everything, but I can cushion the blow when she needs it. Finding balance is key.
I Have to Be Cool With Being Uncool
Getting through the teenage years as a mom amounts to coasting on the fumes of love from when your child was little. Be prepared to be validated as a nerd through epic eyerolls, enough shade that you’ll never sunburn, the kind of huffs that could blow down a house, a lot of shrieking that you “DON’T UNDERSTAND!” and the chilliest of cold shoulders just for asking, “How was school?” I respond to all of this in the same way, every time: “I love you so hard right now.” Meet the overly emotional teen with sarcastic motherly love. This may not solve anything, but it does take the edge off.
Anticipate a Teenage Self-Esteem Flatline and Save the Day
When you’re raising a teen, you’ve got to be on your toes. Even though the door is shut and the quality time is limited, you become a master at redirecting “life-ruining” scenarios by anticipating what may cause a teenage self-esteem flatline.
When my daughter became a candidate for braces, she was beside herself with the horror of it all: the metal, the pain, the rubber band thingies — she didn’t want a creaky Tin Man mouth — so the suggestion was dead on arrival. We went with Invisalign® clear aligners. She can eat what she wants, there’s less pain associated with the Invisalign aligners than traditional metal braces, and obviously the aligners are nearly invisible so there won’t be any taunts of “cage face,” which is something she was legitimately worried about. And given that Invisalign treatment costs about the same as traditional braces, the decision was easy.
Give Your Teen a 10-Minute Warm-Up
While your teen establishes healthy boundaries, it’s still important to stay connected and do things together. Let’s be clear: This means you’ll have to force your teen to do things with you, and then find the inner patience of a saint — she’ll make it absolutely clear that whatever you plan to do is probably going to be “stupid” and she’d “rather stay home.” After 10 minutes, though, she’ll put down the phone and actually talk to you. It also helps to trap your teen in the car where there’s no way to escape.
For all the mood swings and eyerolls, my daughter does do her own laundry. One day she just came to me and asked, “Can I wash my own clothes?” Yes, daughter, yes! Go right ahead. Want to do mine too? Now that would make all the teen drama worth it.
In the hands of an experienced doctor, Invisalign clear aligners can be used to treat simple to complex straightening cases.
This post was sponsored by Invisalign clear aligners, the most advanced clear aligner system designed to transform your teen’s smile and life. No other clear aligner is backed by the data and experience of 4.5 million cases.