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10 Things No One Ever Tells You About Raising Teenagers


  1. They’re as needy as toddlers. I thought when my kids hit the teen years, they’d be more or less independent and I could be somewhat hands-off. Not true. My kids aren’t even involved in sports or extracurriculars, and I still end up driving them places nearly every weekend. School days aren’t much different–someone always needs to go buy something for school, whether it’s poster board for the student council election campaign, reeds for their clarinet, or puff pastry for a French class cooking project. It never ends. 
  2. Their mood swings register on the Richter scale. We’ve all been warned that teens can be moody, but holy hell! And it doesn’t take much to set them off–Overslept? Out of Cheez-its? Can’t find a hair tie? Better take cover under a sturdy object and wait it out. 
  3. The countdown to driving/moving out begins immediately. My kid is only 14 and I’ve already been hearing “When I get a car…” for a solid two years. She’s vaciliated between wanting a vintage VW Beetle, a massive Dodge pickup, or a sensible car that’s good in the snow…you know, like a Lincoln Navigator. Ditto for moving out–she’s got her eye on a loft in the most obscenely high-rent part of downtown “because I can walk to college”. Um, OK. Good luck parking that Navigator on a city street. 
  4. Everything you do will embarrass them. If you dress like a #basic mid-thirties mom, they will laugh at you. If you dress like them, they will laugh at you. If you dress like you stepped out from the pages of Vogue, they will laugh at you. If you listen to prog rock, alt rock, hip hop, trip hop, EDM, jazz, or bluegrass, they will laugh at you.
  5. You are not their friend–even when you think you are. The coolest thing about parenting a teenager is getting a glimpse of who they will be as an adult. And you might start to feel like that future adult would make a pretty good friend. And they will–when they’re 25. Until then, they are not your friend. A friend wouldn’t demand money for Subway from you and then scoff incredulously at your offer to drive them there in your Volvo. A friend would not Snapchat a video of you singing “Cheerleader” at the top of your lungs in said Volvo. 
  6. You are under a microscope. Every bad habit you have is now magnified x1000. Do you swear? Smoke? Bite your nails? Leave a week’s worth of empty Starbucks cups in your car? Get ready to be called out on Every. Single. Thing. you do wrong. Which is everything, basically. 
  7. Free babysitting? HA! So your teen has a younger sibling, and you’ve been dreaming of the day when you can leave them home alone without paying someone to watch them. Keep dreaming. Teen siblings are not free babysitters, not by a long shot. While you may or may not choose to compensate them in cash, rest assured that in your absence they will drain your fridge and pantry, and “accidentally” purchase one or more Amazon Instant Videos. In HD, naturally. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 
  8. The food. Dear God, the food. There is SO MUCH OF IT and it is EVERYWHERE. Why are there fruit flies swarming around the bathroom? Oh, that would be the cup of Ben and Jerry’s that they left on the counter. Where did the ice cream come from, you ask? And why didn’t they share? I don’t know–they just seem to procure food. I don’t know if they are begging, shoplifting, or throwing it in my cart when I’m not looking, but judging by the steep increase in my grocery bill I suspect the latter. 
  9. The size of your house is directly proportionate to how empty it will feel when they’re not around. True story. We’ve been saying how badly we need to upgrade to a bigger space since the kids were in grade school. But now that we’re getting a taste of them not being home all the time, it sure feels roomier, quieter. Too quiet. Small houses FTW. 
  10. That fabulous adult that they’re becoming? That’s all thanks to your blood, sweat, and tears. LOTS of tears. *brushes shoulder* Be proud, mama. You’ve done well.