Teenagers. Smart-mouthed, eye-rolling, selfie-obsessed, living in their own world, back-talking teenagers. They get a bad wrap pretty much all the time, and sometimes deservedly so. But there are also many awesome sides to them—the sides that typically show up just when you’ve taken your last breath of patience. That’s exactly when all the positive age-appropriate character traits, responsible semi-adult actions, and a whole bunch of other neat stuff makes its appearance.
Here are 10 reasons to love having teenagers:
1. Around other adults, they’re actually…kind of nice.
Teens take their stress out on you at home like it’s open season on the adolescent hunting range, throwing daggers of ruthless comebacks and insensitive jokes, yet they then turn around and do the complete opposite at school and around other adults. If your teen does this, relax—it means you’re doing something right, that you’re their safe space. “Your son is so quiet and polite at school!” is an actual comment I get from their teachers. Huh?
2. Built-in babysitters for younger siblings.
Gone are the days of finding and reserving babysitters weeks ahead. Last-minute date nights are no problem at all when you have a capable, built-in, and money hungry teenager at the ready.
3. Their personal hygiene is THEIRS.
No more asking daily, “Did you shower? Brush your teeth? Put on deodorant?” For the most part, the obsessive monitoring of hygiene habits that you were forced into when they were younger is no longer necessary.
4. They drive.
This is a double-edge sword. Yes, they are out there on the road with drunk people texting, but they also become your second mom taxi, ferrying younger siblings to and from school and sports practices. And they drive themselves to 7 a.m. orthodontists appointments. #BOOM
5. They get your adult jokes.
Finally, there exists someone in the house other than your spouse to exchange quick-witted dirty jokes with.
6. They can be wise beyond their years.
Not having endured years of adult-ing that has left them jaded, your teenager’s clean slate of perspective and frequent smart advice on your problems will surprise and inspire you. They comprehend deep social issues and can gab about politics endlessly. Guess what? They got those brain gems from you.
7. They share same taste in TV, movies, and music as you.
Well, mostly. There is the occasional blaring of gangsta rap you can’t understand, but when you find your teens laughing their asses off at old episodes of Seinfeld and jamming out to Led Zeppelin, you can’t help but think, I’ve raised awesomeness.
8. They put themselves to bed.
At what time, I have no idea, and I honestly couldn’t care less. So what if they get their mojo at 11 p.m. and start doing homework and raiding the kitchen? Go for it. I’ve been peacefully asleep three hours already.
9. They can cook. And they actually eat.
One of my sons can give Bobby Flay a run for his money on the grill. Throw a steak his way, and he’ll have dinner on the table in 20. And no more fretting about how they don’t eat and begging them to just please take one bite. They each need their own steak now.
10. They give you hope for the future.
Just when you think this country is going to pot and our over-connected youth have the personal social skills of a rock, you overhear a great conversation that your teens are having, and your faith in their future, and your own, is bolstered.
Maybe, just maybe, behind the rolling eyeballs lies empathy, tolerance, compassion, generosity, and humility. So have some faith. It’s possible—likely, even—that these amazing teens we’re raising won’t actually screw up this planet.