The Joy Series: Parenting a Teen Is Hard, But I’ve Found Gratitude Among the Grumbles

teenage son hugging mother from behind outside
Dr. Zoe Shaw, A Year of Self-Care

Motherhood at any stage is a joyful experience, yet with each stage comes its own challenges. We’ve moved from diapers to building blocks to car keys in the blink of an eye. Parenting a teen is similar to dancing: the music changes often, and we can either change with the music or sit it out. I have found joy in choosing to adapt to the music, and meeting my son right where he is, in that moment.

Meeting My Teenage Son Where He’s At

Even though life seems to rush at us with so much to do, I love being able to share it with my son. Meeting him where he is has allowed me into his world. He shares his hurts and his concerns as well as funny stories from school.

When he was younger, he would ask to play video games and build towns out of blocks for hours on end, and now we meet in the garage or at the track. It means watching YouTube channels with him and each of us sending things we see on social media about cars or things that resonated with us as ways to share our faith with others.

Parenting is similar to dancing: the music changes often, and we can either change with the music or sit it out.

One of the best feelings as a mom is to be able to watch your child nourish, flourish, and grow in their relationship with the Lord. It brings tears of joy to my eyes. By meeting him in his element, I am moving outside my own comfort zone and experiencing new things. We recently went to a nationwide car show, met the people he watches on YouTube, made a video for a chance to win a car, won that car, had an epic road trip to Canada to pick up the car, and started our own YouTube channel— all by meeting him in his interest.

The teenage years are as hard for them as they are for us. They are too young to be an adult but want the freedom that adulthood brings. I know this time is limited because he will eventually be going off to college and making a life on his own. Our moments with him have an expiration date but I plan on making the most of them while I can.

We use our time on the way to and from school to discuss what’s going on in his world. In just a few short months that time will come to an end because he will have his driver’s license.

As our kids grow, we grow with them. My role has changed from him needing me to do everything to experiencing life on his own, making hard decisions, and navigating things, yet knowing that I am here for advice or just a listening ear.

When he has a bad day, I’m here. When he just needs to vent, I’m here. When he has a good day and has good news, I’m all ears ready to listen. I know it is easy to get wrapped up in my own life and that we can easily miss the opportunity and joy that comes when we open up to our teens. I’ve found joy in being the one who listens while he talks, not trying to solve his problems for him, but merely being a sounding board. When he asks for wisdom or advice I happily share but allowing him to come to the conclusion all on his own helps him grow.

The Bittersweet Parts of Parenting a Teen

As we move on to a new song and reach new milestones, I refer to those as “happy-sad” moments. I’m happy that we are there but I’m sad it was so quick. He is no longer dependent on me but navigating a new dance of finding out who he is, being there on the sidelines watching him grow and flourish is a blessing.

There is not always an attitude of gratitude from us both but more of an “I know-it-all” and “Mom knows-nothing” attitude at times. Navigating the hard means growing and learning together, depending on God, and seeking Him as we grow together.  The fear of the unknown has become the joy of growing. Instead of digging my heels in, I dig into the Word daily.

When the trying teenage attitude pops up, I always remember I’m going to miss that one day. I don’t condone the behavior but I do see that my time with him is limited, but I want what time I do have to be memorable and joyous. Sometimes that just means that I start with my own attitude adjustment, because the mounds of laundry, the car rider line, and the constant grocery store runs will eventually end, so today I’m finding joy in parenting a teen.

Feeling unsure in your role as a mom? Check out this video with tips to breathe new life into this all-important role:

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