The Adventures Of Fatherhood – February 18, 2022

Parenting an early teen is not for the weak, and there are some days I come up short.

I’m inconsistent. By the end of the work day, I am just exhausted, and all too often take the easier route when it comes to keeping my 13-year-old in check.

One thing I am consistent about is homework. If I have had a bad day at work, I don’t want to come home and make sure homework is completed. If I have had a good day at work, I don’t want to come home and make sure homework is completed.

My parents never checked in on my schoolwork. Though they were present and did all the right things as memory serves me, I am not sure it was on their radar to ensure my school work was done. They would ask about school and all, but I don’t think they even knew if I had a big test on a certain day.

It’s not that way today, at least in my house. Maybe it’s because my kid is not a self-starter and seems to prefer waiting until the last minute on just about everything. Whatever the reason, Pam and I at times feel as if we are back in middle school ourselves. There is the school work to keep tabs on, but there are also the social struggles that seem to pop up each day as major distractions and give us anxiety over his mental health.

Because the struggle is real, I needed a laugh and found a story on Raising Teens Today called, “21 Things only Parents of Teenagers Would Understand.” Some highlights were:

The Smelliness: Their B.O., their P.E. uniform, their FEET! Man, the smell will literally knock you over! The tough part is that, for some reason, they can’t smell themselves. My son would plop himself next to me on the couch and I’d nearly faint from the smell and he’d be like, “Wait… what? Do I smell?” Umm… yeah, dude, you smell. Go take a shower.

The Swinging Hormones: One minute they’re gleefully enjoying life and the next, the world is crashing in around them. One minute they’re sweet and kind and loving children and the next they’re slamming doors, rolling their eyes, and blaming you for ruining their life. Oh, their swinging hormones… it’s the real reason parents of teens want to escape to a cabin in the woods for a month with a case of their favorite booze …. 

Constantly Hearing “There’s Nothing to Eat”: It doesn’t matter how much you spend on groceries or how hard you try to keep a stocked fridge with all their favorite food, your kids will always walk in the door after school and complain that “there’s nothing to eat.” It’s a fact.

Worrying… About Everything: No one warned me about this one. I worry about everything… my kids’ grades, their physical and mental health, if they’re lonely, if they’re happy, their future, their safety, the amount of time they spend on their phone and computer, that they’ll make good choices when the chips are down, that they won’t cave into peer pressure, that they’re listening to anything I have to say… and on and on and on. Even though I know no problem has ever been solved by worrying, I still do it.

Their Closed Bedroom Door: Heads up, parents of littles. One day, when you least expect it, your tween or teen is going to go into their bedroom and they won’t come out for 5 or 6 years. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating just a bit, but I think we can all agree that our kids’ bedrooms become their sanctuary and we’re only invited in on their terms. The best we can do is … not to take it personally. 

Their Messy (Okay, Slightly Disgusting) Bedroom: Someone once told me, “If I strategically placed five hampers all over my teen’s room, they’d still manage to throw their clothes where there wasn’t one.” But it isn’t just the clothes. Teenagers (most, anyway) turn into slobs. Cups, bowls, spoons, empty water bottles, papers, makeup, unidentified objects… sure, they might clean it on a Saturday afternoon after you put the hammer down, but within two days it looks exactly the same.

They’ll Argue About Anything… Literally: At the drop of that first hormone, they’ll fight you, argue with you, debate you or challenge you on just about everything. It’s really irritating until you realize that they’re just trying to find their voice and stand on their own two feet.

Knowing How Much They Still Need You (Even if They Don’t Admit It): Yep, teenagers are notorious for acting all cool with their “I don’t need you anymore” attitude. But, parents of teens know better. “Mom, can you drive me to my friend’s house?” “Dad, I need help with my math homework.” “Mom, can you make me my favorite dinner tonight?” “Can you give me a backrub?” 

The Endless Laundry: Piles and piles and piles of never-ending laundry. Enough said. 

They’re Glued to Their Cell Phone: I don’t remember the last time I had a full conversation with my son where he didn’t at least glance at his phone. Truth is, I have a love/hate relationship with cell phones. Yeah, my kids stare at their phones all the time, but at least I have the comfort of knowing I can contact them when I need them AND they can always get a hold of me. 

Lovin’ Them on Their Good Days, Bad Days and Every Day In-Between Oh, it’s so hard. In fact, no one tells you how damn hard it is. But every parent of teens inherently does it. We love our kids through it all – their calm and sweet and good days, their “chaotic, drama-ridden, hormonal as hell days” days and every day in-between. Why? Because it’s what parents do.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.