From The Confessional: I'm Parenting A Teenager, And HELP PLEASE

by Karen Johnson
A teenage girl in a striped shirt screaming in front of a pink backdrop
Scary Mommy and franz12/Getty

We all know the baby and toddler years are full of endless challenges. There’s poop and pee everywhere. They are unpredictable and exhausting. And they are always, always losing their shoes. And you constantly question if you even know what TF you’re doing.

Well, guess what? Teenagers aren’t any better. In fact, they’re a lot like toddlers—only bigger. They’re emotional, unpredictable, messy, and they too, somehow manage to always lose their shoes.

What. the. fuck.

If you’re currently in the throes of teen or tween parenting, hoo-boy, I’ll bet you’re tired. And worried. And broke. You know these are the last few years you really get with them under your roof full time and you want to soak it up, but holy shit do you dream about a quiet, empty, clean house some days. Days where no one talks back or expects you to pick them up at 11 p.m. even though they are ungrateful little shits who forget to say things like, “Thank you for buying me the stupidly expensive sneakers I wanted” and “I’m sorry I’m an entitled brat who thinks she knows everything but really has no idea that she couldn’t make it a single day without her mom picking up after her ass and making sure she has clean underwear.”

Don’t worry—they’ll see it. Not until they’re out of the house and paying their own damn bills, but they’ll see it.

For now, hang in there, parents. Raising teenagers is truly one of the hardest things you’re ever going to have to do in all your years of life. You’re doing great. Even if your teens are wearing the same outfit for the third straight day, ate gum for breakfast, and failed their math test this morning. The kids are alright, and you’re an amazing mom.

When did my beautiful little girl turn into a self entitled, opinionated, judgmental teenage shit?

Confessional #25850336

DD15 is pissed off at me because I had the audacity to clean her room today while she was at school.

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I hate that kids go from sweet to moody when they reach their teens. I understand going through changes, but remembering how it used to be when they were young and adorable makes it so difficult.

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When did my sweet, articulate little boy turn into this mouth breathing, one syllable, ignorant giggling teen? Very disappointing and embarrassing.

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Parents of teens often find themselves saying things like, “Why are there dirty socks on the couch?” and “Where are all the cups?” and “When did my sweet little kindergartener turn into a grumpy teenage ass?”

I’m angry and disappointed my teenage sons refuse to participate in school activities. I’m annoyed at how socially backwards they seem to be.

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I'm puzzled by my teen's apathetic attitude about getting her license. Man, I couldn't WAIT to drive when I was her age.

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I have no idea how to effectively parent my teen sons anymore. It's me against millions of internet opinions. I don't see how humanity is going to make it.

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Teenagers, like toddlers, often don’t make sense. Their brains are still developing, so they make what we might consider… “puzzling” choices, and they mess up, as do we. Hopefully both kids and parents learn from their mistakes, but will all make them—it’s part of the gig.

I tell my teenage son I love you. He never says it back and it makes me tear up.

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I’ll take your toddler if you’ll take my sass-mouthed preteen.

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Preteen crying because he only has an iPhone 6S. I only have a 7. Don't care if your friends all have 12's. Have their mom buy you one.

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They seem ungrateful and unkind, which makes parenting them reeeeeeally hard. Take a breath, hang in there, and remember that they won’t die if they don’t have the latest iPhone (even if they think they will.)

I hate being a mother to my teenage daughter. Hate it. I resent the hell out of her.

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I hate my teenagers they lie steal and cheat how are These my children ??

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I remember a time when I had to sleep with my money & car keys under my pillow because of teen DD. She eventually grew up to be a nice young woman who I'm proud of, but there was a time when she was an absolute hellion & I did not trust her.

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I feel like my teenager HATES me because she feels like i hate her. She thinks I dont love her and that I only love myself and her younger sisters. #WorstFeelingEver

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Sometimes the dynamic between teens and their parents can get quite negative. You might even feel a little hate now and then. (They do too.) But bigger than the hate—far bigger, and stronger—is the love. It’s still there, and it will be there when this latest storm passes.

feel teen son and i may need counseling and meds for depression. the isolation of covid and my own laziness have gotten the best of us this year. i'd happily stay home and not care, but i need to get this kid launched. now how to tell dh. been hiding it.

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Homecoming outfit shopping with my non conformist non binary teen who has no idea how to dress their body. Hell. It’s own definition of hell. I can’t help and I can’t get out of the way.

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I hate teenage girl drama. I also hate when the mom's of these girls end parent friendships over it. Honest truth your daughter is not a good friend, she hurts people and you make excuses for her because you have shitpiles of money. Do better.

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Often we, as parents, don’t know how to help our teens, and that can break our hearts. We just have to keep waking up, doing our best, making sure they know we love them and have their back, and vowing to do it all over again tomorrow.

My teen called me “mama today for the first time in years. This made me very happy. Much better than hearing “hey mom”.”

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Sometimes struggle Bonds me with my kids. Moments when they say We are in this together, we have each other's backs. Us against the world. Then they relapse into teenHood. Still I appreciate moments they see we have been through a lot TOGETHER.

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I love my kids more than anything but the teenage years are making me more than ready for being an empty nester

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And finally, on your worst days as you trudge through the trenches of parenting teens, try to find the silver lining it in all. Maybe your kid hung out with you a little bit today. Or tossed you an “I love you.” Or maybe just the fantasy of being an empty nester in a few years, knowing it’s over and you did your best to help them fly, is the motivation to keep you going. Just find something positive to hold onto—you might really need it.

Parenting kids of any age isn’t for the faint of heart. But the teen years can be particularly taxing, stressful, expensive, and heart-breaking. Always remember that you do all love each other, that they’ll someday realize the sacrifices you made. As long as you love them and support them for who they are, you’re doing great.

There’s no handbook for his. Cut yourself some slack (maybe cut them a little too), order pizza tonight, and be proud of all you’ve done so far. You’re a rockstar! And so are those kids—even if they roll their eyes when you tell them so.