When my son got his first cell phone, he envisioned long drives to his baseball tournaments being filled with hours of uninterrupted phone time for him—me driving, him chilling. Uhhh, no. As I let him know back then, I am not a chauffeur.
I love having teenagers. I really do. I’m happy to be the “stay up until they get home” mom and the “let them sleep until noon” mom, but there are a few things I’m not going to be, for their own good—things no moms of teenagers should be. Here are 5 of them.
I am not an Uber driver.
I’ve seen my son’s friends pull up in a car driven by their mom, the boys in the back seat, headphones on, tuned into their music, and tuned out to Mom. Not in my car. When we’re driving to a baseball tournament or even to school, the phone is not the focus or an escape from interacting with me. In fact, a car ride is a prime opportunity for connection—one I’m not willing to miss out on.
I am not a verbal punching bag.
Teenagers’ emotions can feel very big to them, and when they’re in the grip of these intense feelings, it can be difficult for them to control their actions. It’s my job to teach them how to process their feelings without going on the attack. I won’t brush off disrespectful or hurtful words as just a phase.
I am not an Apple Pay or Venmo tree.
Money trees don’t look like they used to! Who needs cash? All it takes is a smartphone to spend, spend, spend. Moms of teenagers know the experience of looking at their credit card statements and seeing lots of surprise charges. One of our jobs as parents is helping our children make the connection between working and spending. One of my children has had many part-time jobs. My other child is less motivated to work. That means she’ll either have to get a job or do extra chores at home.
One of our jobs as parents is helping our children make the connection between working and spending.
I am not a personal assistant.
I like doing things for my children, and truthfully, I could’ve done a better job in training them to do more things for themselves. So, I try to be aware of when I cross the line and act like a maid or an assistant, instead of a mom. Dr. Meg Meeker said that as our children get older, we need to let them do the things they can do for themselves: laundry, grabbing food when they’re hungry, taking ownership of their school projects. This is a hard one if you love to serve, but it’s a disservice to your kids not to allow them to help themselves.
I am not the cool mom.
My kids have called me “the strict mom” and “the weird mom”—but never the cool mom! I’d rather my children see me as stable, mature, and predictable. I think they know that I’ll always try to base my decisions on what is best for them, even if it makes me look out of step with the cooler moms.
I think that most moms of teenagers will tell you that there’s a lot of joy in parenting teens, but it’s also a time of extreme transitions. Our iMOM Ages and Stages section has lots of encouraging and enlightening posts about teens and tweens.
Moms of teenagers: What are you not?