Teen Parenting - A Brave New World

April 21, 2011

Posted By: Shaunescy

When my 16- year old "baby" was approximately 18- months old, I worked with a gal who had two teenagers. This gal was a very down-to-earth mother, and I remember asking her about parenting teens - since teenagers to me at that time was akin to being a stranger in a strange land.

I will never forget her answer.

She said, "Well, if you really know who your kids are, you'll be fine."

Knowing who your kids are was great food for thought for me at that time, yet I had no idea what she was talking about. I smiled and thanked her. But I didn’t understand it.

Fast forward 14 years…

This ain't our first rodeo.

Or second.

You would think we'd be experts by now, with an estimated 20- years of parenting experience under our belts. But, honestly, we're just 20- years older, and 20- years more tired – and the combination “old and tired” is not a terrifically effective parenting style, but it is what it is at this point.

Thankfully, our youngest son is a fairly easy-going kid. He doesn't cause much grief, and usually is rather enjoyable. {Usually, being the key word.}

You could argue the "birth order" theory. The First Child (male) was given freedom based on two very cautious parents, which means he got none.

The Second Child was given slightly more freedom, partially based on the behavior of the First Child and partially because the Second Child was female.

{I'm sorry Second Child, but being female changes the rules of the game. I know you hated the restrictions we placed upon you, but we did our parenting best to protect you in ways we didn't have to with your brother. I'm sure it felt like a chain was around your neck most days. It's called parenting a teenage daughter.}

And by the time the Third Child becomes a teenager, the reins are so loose, we're just happy that he finds his way home - on time, and in one piece.

The Third Child is basically on Easy Street. He’s had a cell phone for years, mainly because he got First Child's cell phone after graduation. And mainly because we used to live on the north side of a mountain, and didn't have a house phone.

Regardless, I never inspect Third Child's cell phone. It doesn't mean I won't, but at this juncture, he has not given me motive. And I like not having a motive.

I don't browse his texts (not that I know how, exactly??) nor do I look at his contacts. I do tell him absolutely no texting and driving. And no phone calls while driving.

Third Child has Internet in his room. Overall, his grades are on target – more or less. We believe in self-monitoring, and Sexy Hubby and I realize we have certainly widened the boundaries with the Third Child, yet feel he has earned it.

{Although if you were to ask Third Child, he would complain, “My parents are sooooooooooo strict." Which is good – it means we are doing our job.}

But, the instant his grades slip or he gets into any serious trouble we will re-evaluate the electronics that make up his 16- year old world and our permissive style. So far, we haven't needed to do any re-evaluating.

So far. So good.

I am "friends" with all my children on Facebook. Again, so far, no need for any concern. It's actually fun to see what Third Child posts – usually he says how he cannot wait for winter or posts an “epic” skiing video found on You Tube. He loves winter (which makes me seriously question the origin of this child?)

When we got our first snow of the season, I remember calling Third Child to warn him of the road conditions and to be extra cautious when driving home.

He sighed (and I’m sure rolled his eyes) and said, "Mom, you know me. You know me . I am a very cautious driver. And, I already tested my tires and brakes."

I know him?

I know him.

I know him!

And that my friends, is the KEY to Teen Parenting in the Brave New World.


And knowing  your child.

Inside and out.

And the magical moment your child recognizes you are in this together - to grow together - it's a beautiful thing.

When Third Child arrives home, safe and sound, he excitedly tells me how he "was testing his brakes and fishtailed" - and by the smile on his face, I could tell he was enjoying the fact he was torturing me.

My wine glass is empty. I need a refill – STAT!

Teenagers will do that to a mother.

They make us very thirsty.

More from Montana Parent

Thank You to Our Sponsors