Even on the brink of adulthood teens still need and want their mommies and daddies. After getting all four wisdom teeth removed my 17-year-old was unhappy, sore, and needy. I gave her extra hugs, stroked her hair, and didn’t complain when she wanted me to make her green drinks.
She wanted company while she showered, did her homework, and watched WWE. Little sister translated her post-operative, swollen jaw words and we helped her ice on and off every 20 minutes. Hours later she angrily waved a large, printed “BOOO!” at the TV when AJ Styles stepped into the ring.
Fortunately, she’s recovering quickly, as the orthodontic surgeon predicted, due to her age. We could tell because she sounded like a happy mummy (or the priest from Princess Bride) on the second day, compared to a zombie (the original, slow, tired kind) on the first day.
It was a funny reminder that teenagers still really need us to be present and involved in their lives. They need our enduring presence to feel supported and loved enough to share dreams, insecurities, joys, and frustrations, and to feel accepted – imperfect and raw.
This is more important than any thing you buy them. They will remember having or not having your time and attention at this time.
Be there as much as you possibly can for your teenagers. Active parenting isn’t over, it has just shifted. Pubescent memories are vivid and long-lasting and hormone surges actually make their brains more impressionable. Yet, their fierce need for unconditional love during this tumultuous time can be hard to detect behind the ornery behavior.
No matter what they say, they still need our guidance, perspective, and support.
What was one time you really needed your mom/dad/aunt/grandparent when you were a teenager and how did it make you feel?
Featured image by Alice Barber Stephens (1858-1932) in The Wayfarers (1908)