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Terrible Teens: The ups and downs of raising 3 teenagers

Ellen Coy is a mom to three teens and wife to a husband of many, many years, but she married young so she still thinks she's pretty hip. She's written a lot of things for a lot of places but she can't tell you where or what. Terrible Tee...

What's worse? Terrible twos or terrible teens?

Last week, I became a mom to three teenagers. I'm still letting that sink in, because it doesn't seem possible.

It seems like yesterday that I was corralling a 3-year-old boy in Buzz Lightyear toddler undies, a 2-year-old darling diapered princess and a newborn into the bath at night, wishing for the days where they'd be self-sufficient. I spent days cutting up food into safe pieces, changing diapers, potty training, handing out Goldfish, rewinding the VCR, doing laundry, begging them to nap, reading them stories and tucking them lovingly into bed.

Today, they can all be considered mostly self-sufficient. But has that much changed since those days I wrangled them all into the bathtub together?

I still make them snacks. (With a 6-foot-6-inch 16-year-old and a 13-year-old fast approaching his older brother, there are many snacks.) I still make them lunches. (There are no school cafeteria lunches for these kids, not by my choice.) I make them dinners some nights, and the boys require what they call "second" dinner, usually around 9 or 10 p.m. Instead of watching VHSs or DVDs, they hole up in their rooms and watch Netflix, and I'm pretty sure they're watching rated-R stuff. The oldest loves to nap, so after school, he usually takes a snooze, before or after his Netflix viewing. I still do their laundry. (OK, Dad helps with this chore a lot!) They do their homework, they eat, they play video games. My daughter's room is a huge mess, but from what I understand, that's totally normal for a 15-year-old, and she claims the mess offers her a sense of calm. She still loves Goldfish. They all still love a good tuck-in at night.

Other things really have changed a lot.

Two of our children have dealt with severe anxiety and depression and have had panic attacks in public. One child has a predisposed genetic disorder. Our daughter was recently diagnosed with a unique eating disorder (not your usual anorexia/bulimia diagnosis).

We've home-schooled; we've had intensive outpatient therapies; we've had to heartbreakingly admit children to the ER and psych hospitals. And then, of course, there is the one child who is perfect. And that causes much discord in the family dynamics.

With social media, the internet, peer pressure and the desire to be everything to everyone, teenagers have a lot going on. And it can seem pretty terrible — for all involved. They are navigating a world I would never have wanted to be a part of when I was their age.

My kids aren't terrible, and it's not necessarily harder to raise teens than it was to raise those terrible toddlers at the age of 2. But it's definitely different. It can be exhilarating and exhausting, and also the most horrible and wonderful thing in the entire world to connect with your teen.

Are you raising teens?

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