Don't Tell Me How To Raise My Teen If You Don't Have One

by Amber Dorsey
Originally Published: 
A mother looking for denim jeans with her teenage daughter while shopping
JackF / Getty

I love all my mama friends in every single stage. And moms can all agree that every stage of parenting is different. But if one more toddler mama tries to tell me how to deal with my teenager, I am gonna go all the way off.

Listen, moms, I know you mean well. We all do. Each one of us has a unique perspective on motherhood and whatever stage of parenting we are in. When we are new moms, we have ALL the questions and readily seek advice from other more seasoned moms. When we finally hit school age, we are equally excited to have other moms to compare notes with and find out how they handled all the projects, homework, and discipline.

But something happens when your child becomes a teenager. There is this divide in parenting that only parents of other teens can understand. Hitting the teen years changes you as a parent. You are suddenly hyper-aware of how you behaved as a teen. And now looking at your offspring, you just shake your head in amazement that you somehow survived.

Seriously Mom and Dad, thanks for not losing your shiz on me ALL the time. Apparently my awesome did not kick in until I left for college.

Thirteen is the magical number where things begin to change, but really, it’s not until high school that you start to stare at your child with both wonder and worry. There are moments of total awesome and others where you want to shake the sh*t out of them. You might also wonder if they have bumped their head recently because “ZOMG, do you even THINK bro?”

That being said, there is nothing like the solidarity of another mom who has a teenager in high school. A parent who understands the struggles and difficulties that come along with those four long years of matriculation. A mom who has survived their second round of junior high and lived to tell about it.

So, it’s understandable that at this stage of parenting, you don’t want to hear squat from a mom who hasn’t yet hit that milestone, right? Or worse, someone who doesn’t even have kids.

Yet some of these moms with younger kids feel like they have to impart some sort of “wisdom” on every mom they meet, particularly ones with older kids. They really like to share how they would handle a situation and what you should be doing to get your teenager to listen, be grateful, and step up in all areas. Basically, they think they can use the same tactics on a teenager that they can their temperamental toddler.

And while yes, you do say a lot of the same things to teenagers as you do toddlers (“Please use your words,” “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me why you’re crying,” “No, you can’t wear that outside!”), it’s nowhere near the same experience. For example, a teenager can hit you with a cold fact about body image and the importance of letting young people express themselves while a toddler might simply throw a tantrum and you give in because you don’t want to deal.

The teenager is much more rational and sophisticated these days. You’ll find yourself reminiscing about your own teen years and what you wished your parents had done differently and try to balance that with today’s parenting tips — and the next thing you know you’re more stressed out and confused than when you began the conversation. But then here comes Barbara with her never-even-tried tips on how to get your teenager to finish out the school year on top.

Oh yeah, it seems like every parent is an expert until they get to the next stage.

So, to all you toddler and school moms, I appreciate your trying to help and offer up advice, and I understand why you do it. But please, until you have a teenager of your own, don’t talk to me about how to deal with mine. Remember, your precious angel might become a whole new person at age thirteen and I’ll be there to hold your hand and say “I told you so.”

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