Parenting a Teen: A Little Glimpse of Hope

8 years ago

There's a certain point at which you realize that everything left to do as a parent is pretty much small potatoes compared to all the work you did between the ages of zero and 12. Gone are the days when the definition of "mom" meant "center of the universe." Gone are the days when going to bed without snuggling seemed sacrilegious. You realize that window of opportunity for imparting your great nuggets of wisdom has mostly passed and that your job now is relegated to chauffeur and chef. And that's if you are lucky.

Lately, I've been coming to terms with the fact that parenting a teen means: "Be seen, but not heard." In fact, it's more like, "Don't be seen and DEFINITELY don't say anything -- LIKE, EVER." Your teen no longer wants to listen to what you have to say. She now realizes that you don't know everything. And in fact, you know that she knows that you don't know everything. That answer you give about "unicorn dust creating the color of sky" was never a good explanation in the first place, and someone who knows everything should, hypothetically, know the quadratic equation and its relevance in everyday life. Right?

So the jig is up. Let the panicking commence. During the teen years ask yourself things like, "Did I get it all in? Did I teach her all that I wanted to?" And then you realize that you didn't get it all in. Despite your better judgment, you start to double down and try and cram even more life lessons in before the age of 18. You trick yourself into thinking your relationship is a plot to a Mitch Albom book. You're so desperate to get some confirmation -- some glimmer of hope -- ANYTHING -- that indicates that the center of your kid's world is not a pair of Citizen for Humanity jeans that you start to obsess. Smother. Cling.

It's not pretty.

And then once in a while, the gods answer your prayers. You get a sign that you did okay and that your kid is actually pretty spectacular. In fact, it doesn't really matter that she leaves empty bottles of shampoo, milk, juice, toothpaste, [fill in blank] everywhere, you've raised someone who is thoughtful. And creative. And a genius. FTW!

I had one of those moments recently when I made Paige create a "vision board" as Part 25 of her punishment for getting drunk on New Year's Eve with her friends. I figured that she needed something personal to keep her eye on the prize and stay out of the worst of troubles (obviously, a potentially "off the sha-hizzle" mother was not motivation enough).

Me: As part of your punishment, I am going to have you make a vision board. Do you know what that is?

Paige: Mom, you are *not* Oprah.  

Me: You need to have a tangible reminder of what inspires you.  

Paige: Can I get off of groundation earlier if I make one?  

Me: You will not be off groundation until you make one.  

Paige: Fine. But this is ridiculous.  

Me: Fine.  

Paige: That poster board is waaayy too big. How am I going to fill it all up?  

Me: You'll figure it out. I promise.  


After three (THREE!) laborious days, she made this:


It was fascinating to see how carefully Paige chose each quote and picture. She put thought into every detail, and I couldn't have asked for a more diligent creative process. She used this quote that she found (and pasted top center) as her guide:

"What kind of future do I envision for myself? What kind of "self" am I trying to develop? What do I want to accomplish in my life? The thing is to paint this vision of your life in your heart as specifically as possible. That "painting" itself becomes the design of your future. The power of the heart enables us to actually create with our lives a wonderful masterpiece in accordance with that design."

How sweet is that? Plus, I especially like how she has Taylor Lautner and Buddha right next to each other. You know, 'cause in her world, they are both heavenly beings.

If you want to see a close up of her vision board, click here.

Giyen writes at Bacon Is My Enemy and vlogs Momversation. When she's not on the interweb she is writing haikus about the virtues of butter and crusty french bread.

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