And Then They Were Teens

Teenagers. Between us, we have five, although Ella is close. Perhaps pre-teen girls get a couple years added to their age. Because it really feeeeels like we have six. And man, they are all complicated.

Here's the disclaimer: we love our children. Like the feel it in your bones, aching in your heart, keep you up at night, kind of love. We do not regret them or wish to turn them in for a different batch or yearn to go back and do it differently. KIDS, WE LOVE YOU!!! YOU HEAR US? LOOOOVVVVEEEE!!!

And now, parents of teens? We have some possibly-shocking information to share. Spoiler alert: parents of young ones, perhaps you want to stop here. You have the benefit of littles who make everything magical, even when they make you crazy. Teens take things to an all new level. Your blissful ignorance is at stake here. You have been warned.

Ok, so parents of teens, these are some of the things that we, and other friends who will remain unnamed to protect the innocent, are learning about:

  • Teen drivers use their phones and drive fast. Most of them. Maybe all of them. They also drive with people in their cars, regardless of your rules or the policeman's rules. Nothing bad can happen. They are immune to the four million possibilities that flash across our minds, inducing unparalleled fear. Even though we know nothing. Still, talk about the rules and possibilities. 
  • Teens in relationships are heavily motivated by their hormones. And sex is not a big deal. Even though we tell them all the physical, emotional, and holy repercussions. Again, we don't know what we're talking about. But keep talking anyway. 
  • Teens know the name of the local drug dealer at their high school. Whether they're experimenting or not. They can "hook you up." Just ask them. Drugs are everywhere. If your teen has gone outside, to a hang-out, a party, a dance, one of the various centers in Ladera, your teen has likely seen a drug or a druggy. Talk to them often about what to do in those scenarios. "Just Say No" is just so 80's. 
  • Teens don't buy kegs and fill red solo cups. They buy hard liquor and fill red solo cups. This is a problem. Speak loud and regularly about alcohol. A side note, if you feel compelled to be the "cool safe house," please don't serve teens-that-aren't-your-own unless you've personally spoken with their parents about it first. This is one of those instances when "Every Child is Our Child" doesn't apply. 
  • Teens with social media...there are a million articles out there about the effects on mental health, access to all-bad-things, changes to attitude, go read those. But know this, social media is here to stay. Best to help the less mature ones in our charge navigate and self-limit it. Abstinence is probably not the answer. Awareness probably is.
  • Teens listen to terrible music with horrifying lyrics. Don't react like our parents did when "Like a Virgin" hit the scene. (I think it's fine.) Because teens also LOVE the great music of the olden days, also know as, the 70's/80's. In this one area, they actually wish they were us. Capitalize on that as much as possible. Music has huge power. And if you haven't seen Bohemian Rhapsody yet, family movie night for sure!! Everyone will love it!
  • Teens love food. You wield great influence when you use food to attract the masses. And you can learn so much watching your kids and their friends. But don't be obvious. Use teeny-tiny chip bowls that need constant refilling. Make cookies or pizzas or sushi, WHATEVER, in batches. Keep them close and turn on your ears. It's equal parts entertaining and frightening.
I think I've covered the basics: sex, drugs, rock n' roll. The take-aways: communication and presence! Our teens want us up in their business in their lives, even if they won't admit to it. 

And it isn't easy. They are moody, erratic, lazy and loud. They smell, curse and make bad decisions. But they are also passionate, innovative, loyal and bright. They give the best hugs, make us laugh, and remind us that we were once just like them. We turned out alright, right? We need to love them through all of the hard, messy parts. And that means we need to know about those things, even though ALL OF IT keeps us up at night.

So go forth and parent, shepherds of teens. If it's hard, you're showing up. And you are not alone.  

Love and strength be with you. 

Holly and Jenn