Let’s Freak Out About Teenagers! (Or … Not)

Friday, January 17, 2014

I just finished reading New York magazine’s cover story, The Collateral Damage of a Teenager, and you know what? I’m fine.  I’m totally OK, and not balled up in some corner with a blanket tossed over my head. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a teen or even a pre-teen to stir up panic in me.

Photo by NYMag.com

Or maybe it’s because I decided early on in this parenthood game that I would not stress about things that were not right in front of me. How is it helping me to freak out this minute about a potential situation or struggle that hasn’t even happened yet and might not ever?

My kid is turning 5 soon. So that’s about school bus and kindergarten and wondering  how the hell do I have an official big-kid-five-year-old?!  That’s all my Motherhood  Bucket has room for right now. I don’t want to envision a time when this little guy doesn’t say things like: “You are the kissiest Mama in the world!” I don’t want to think about this kid not wanting to cuddle up in the morning and make up songs about sharks and astronauts. I’m enjoying all of this stuff. More important, I’m enjoying all of this stuff right. now.

The actual piece is a good read, though. There’s some solid intel in these pages — studies, expert weigh-ins, surveys, real-life stories — on parenting through/from within the storm known as adolescence. It talks quite a bit about how the puberty and the teenage years affect the parents more so than the juniors.

“Here’s what may be most powerful about adolescence, from a parent’s perspective: It forces them to contemplate themselves as much as they contemplate their own children. Toddlers and ­elementary-school children may cause us to take stock of our choices, too, of course. But it’s adolescents, usually, who stir up our most self-critical feelings. It’s adolescents who make us wonder who we’ll be and what we’ll do with ourselves once they don’t need us. It’s adolescents who reflect back at us, in proto-adult form, the sum total of our parenting decisions and make us wonder whether we’ve done things right.”

Did you read the story? What did you think? Definitely would like to hear from those of you living (surviving?) on Teenager Land.

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