This post: My Teen Thinks I’m the “Only Mom” and I’m Okay with That
My daughter had been challenging a few of my decisions for a while, but I remember when the, “But mom, all the other kids’ parents are letting them” really started…
My daughter was 13 at the time. One of her best friends invited her to join her and several other girls to spend a day on the lake with her and her parents. I knew the parents well and trusted them to keep a watchful eye on my daughter.
Mid-morning, while I was sitting at my desk at work, the call came in.
“So, mom, Mrs. Carter wanted me to call you to make sure it’s okay. There’s this really cool cliff that all the kids are jumping off of. Tons of kids are doing it, mom – it’s totally safe. Can I? Can I? It looks like so much fun! I promise I’ll be careful!
I knew the cliff she was talking about well. It was three or four stories high and, she was right, I’d seen a lot of kids and even parents jumping off. And… every time I saw someone jump off, my heart skipped a beat.
In that same lake, I’d seen tree branches and large logs floating directly under the surface. The water in the lake is nearly jet black so you couldn’t see them or even know they were there until you were directly upon them. With a horrible vision of my girl jumping onto one of the logs from four stories above, my answer was “no.”
Of course, I did my best to explain my reasoning and gently help her try to understand, but it didn’t matter. My daughter heard my “no” and nothing I said after that sunk in. She viewed me as an “overprotective, you don’t have a clue what it feels like to be a teenager, you’re no fun at all mom.”
My Teen Thinks I’m the “Only Mom” and Frankly, I’m Okay With That
It’s exhausting. It’s mentally taxing. It’s the really hard part of parenting that no one prepares you for.
It’s when you need to pile on your protective armor and stand ready to battle the pounding forces that desperately try to wear you down to the core and make you question your parenting decisions.
But as parents, we have to get used to being the bad guy.
We have to get comfortable saying “no.”
We have to be willing to stand strong in our convictions no matter how much flack we get from our kids.
We have to look at the bigger picture and see things our kids don’t see.
We have to draw from our own life experiences and make decisions that are in the best interest of our kids.
We have to trust our instincts.
We have to protect your kids… because if we don’t who will?
We have to know in our hearts that one day – maybe not today or tomorrow or even five years from now – our kids will look back on those very moments when we said “no” and say, “Thanks, mom or dad.” Maybe it won’t be until they are parents themselves. Maybe it won’t be until their child asks them if they can do something or go somewhere and their heart skips a beat and they know they just have to say no.
Maybe one day they’ll realize that saying no is simply par for the course when you’re a parent, that it can be the greatest expression of our love, that we always had their very best interest at heart, and that setting boundaries and limitations was a necessary part of their healthy development.
As a parent, I’ve always considered myself far more of a “yes” mom. I get that my kids are adventurous, that they’re craving more independence, and that I need to loosen my grip to let them experience life, make their own decisions and even fail miserably, at times.
In fact, on more occasions than I can count, I’ve said yes when other parents said no.
But I’ve never said yes at the expense of my kids’ safety or the safety of someone else. I’ve never said yes when I felt their morals were in question. I’ve never said yes when an important rule I have in place was being challenged.
Sure, there are times my teen thinks I’m the “only mom,” but I’m willing to take that heat. I take my role as my kids’ parent seriously and I’m willing to do what it takes to keep them safe and raise them right – even if it means making unpopular decisions.
I make my kids do hard things. I make them do chores. I hold them to their word. I demand respect. I expect them to follow my rules. But I also give them respect, have high expectations of myself and hold myself accountable for my actions and words.
I love my kids with everything I’ve got and I’m willing to give and take in countless areas. In so many ways, I’m totally easygoing. But I’m not so easygoing that I cave when my kids whine or yell or scream or complain or tell me I’m “the only” parent. I’m not the parent who follows the lead of other parents even when my heart tells me otherwise. I’m not the parent who throws caution to the wind and says, “What the hell, my kids are only young once, let them do this one dangerous thing… the chance of something bad happening is slim.”
Being a parent (especially of independence-craving teenagers who think they have it all figured out) is the toughest job in the world.
It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. It requires a ton of courage, mental resolve and sometimes, a deaf ear to other parents’ unsolicited advice (or snarky behind-the-scenes comments) who think your clench is too tight.
My advice to parents of teenagers is this… stand strong, my friends. Don’t worry about what every other parent is doing. Don’t worry about how much your kid dislikes or even hates you today (because, oh, at times they will). Loosen your grip at your own pace… not the pace of everyone else. These are your children to raise and nurture, love and protect.
You know what your heart is telling you. You know your child best. You’re parenting your child through a different lens (based on your own life experiences) than any other parent. Be true to yourself, trust your maternal or paternal instincts, and know that you’re doing far better than you realize.
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