WELCOME TO YOUR NEW TEEN-DOM! You remember the saying “when you have a child, it is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around your body”? I think it’s really true when you’re the parent of a teen or tween except it’s more like your heart is being stomped. I’ll never forget the day when I realized that with the onset of the tweens, our actual living “time” with our kids was well over halfway done. It was a sad day for me.

This is the age where your child will start to value their friends’ opinion over yours. They’ll spend whatever free time they have with their friends and not you. You will become seemingly uncool and clueless overnight and nothing you say or do is ever right. You can fight it all you want but it’s a fact of life and I imagine if you think back on it, they’re not acting any differently than you and I did when we were that age.

So, how does everyone survive? As the mom of 3 girls who break down into 2 Tweens and 1 Teen, my best advice is with skin thick as steel, a healthy sense of humor and a six-pack of beer. Your child will say and do the most whacked out things and at some point, you’re going to find yourself stooping to their level. You’ll react with punishments and groundings as off the wall as the crime that was committed.

READ MORE: TEENAGERS SUCK

“Not me” you say? Hah. Good luck with that. What can you expect? Well, let me tell you.

1. Grades:

The kid that loved school and had great grades? Don’t be surprised if they tank the first quarter of middle school. Gone are the days of the warm and fuzzy elementary school environment. This is where they are pushed to learn accountability and having ownership over their assignments. It was a hard thing to watch that first “lower than C” grade come home and then later a big, fat F, but we knew that we had to let them see first hand that this was a new game.

2. Friends:

Their friends start shifting at this age, too. The amount of kids in middle school is almost 5 times more than elementary school. Most likely there will be very few of the same kids in their class as they had before. Which means that not only are they meeting new people, but you are as well – because new kids mean new parents. The social life kicks into over-drive and you have to keep an even closer eye on it. I used to enjoy the parties where I could drop the girls off and come back in 2 hours. Now I really wish I could stay and hang out to keep a very watchful eye on the budding interest in the opposite sex. Sounds obvious but know the parents and if there’s a party, make sure that THEY (the parents) are aware of it. How many times did we do the old party flip-flop where we said they were having the party/sleepover and they said we were having it?

3. Communication and technology:

The vast majority of their interaction and conversations happen without a word ever being spoken. They communicate almost entirely by text, Twitter, Instagram and in a lot of cases Snapchat. Email doesn’t exist in their world. The rule in our house is if you have a phone and text, it is subject to random inspection and believe me – we enforce that. I’ve seen a few things that I didn’t like and there were consequences. But you have to take advantage of the fact that they do still look to you for guidance and use it to educate them. If you aren’t already familiar with the sites they use (such as Instagram and Twitter), I would strongly recommend that you get on these sites and familiarize yourself like, yesterday.

READ MORE: LESSONS ON ACCEPTANCE FROM MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER

4. Attitude:

Ah yes, attitude. This is a tough one in our house. I remember being a 14-year-old girl and all the crazy stuff going on in my head and my body. My husband on the other hand, can’t relate as well. He sees the dramatic sighs and eye rolls as nothing short of disrespectful and while he is right in a sense, it really is nothing more than her attempt at creating her own identity and points of views. Decide early on what you’ll let roll off your back and what you won’t allow. For me the big one is to not be cruel or intentionally hurt someone’s feelings. There will be unpopular decisions made. I was once informed that I was SO overprotective and not fair because I wouldn’t allow DD to sleep over at an outdoor party. Uhm yeah… guilty as charged.. sorry if I’m not ready for Co-Ed sleepovers.

We can all agree that this is a trying time for all, but it’s also very rewarding just like every other phase. When they want to spend time with you, it is a great opportunity to reconnect with them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to get a better idea of what they’re thinking and who they’re thinking about. Work “hot topics” into the conversation when the chance presents itself. Now more than ever they really need to know that you are there for them and that they can still come to you for advice.

 This post was originally featured on Kristen Daukas’ blog, 4 Hens & A Rooster. Featured image via

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Dear Rachel,

Next week you start middle school. Since you are the oldest, this is uncharted territory for all of us. Right now, you are excited about meeting new people, having new experiences, and gaining more independence. I am excited, too. It will be a new adventure and I am looking forward to watching you grow and bloom.

I will admit, though, that I am also more than a little scared. You see, I have heard lots of stories about kids – adolescents – making bad decisions, succumbing to peer pressure, using social media for inappropriate purposes, and trying to do grown up things like sexting and drugs far too soon. I’m sure you have heard some of these stories, too.

Part of me wants to think you are too smart and too good to fall into those traps. However, there is another part of me that refuses to be a naive parent who is blind to the truth.

We are currently standing at the bottom of a mountain – a mountain called adolescence and puberty and middle school and high school. We are preparing for the climb that will lead us to a peak with the most wonderful views and a fantastic sense of accomplishment. On our way there, though, as we climb to the top, I want you to remember these pieces of advice. I will do all that I can to remember them as well.

1. Work hard. Remember that school work comes first and everything else is secondary. That includes sports and friends and other hobbies. I don’t expect you to be perfect, but I do expect you to try your hardest every time. If you do, I will be proud, but you will be prouder.

2. Be brave. You are going to have so many new experiences. Some will be good. Some will not. When you face these challenges, be brave. Stand up for what you believe even if it makes you “uncool.” That will fade, but your courage will make a lasting impression.

3. Be yourself. You are unique and wonderful and just the way God intended you to be. Don’t ever change in an effort to “fit in.” If others cannot see how fantastic and remarkable you are, that is their loss – not yours.

4. Do what you know is right. When others are pressuring you to do something and your gut tells you not to – LISTEN! We have tried our best to teach you what is right and what is wrong. You will know it in your heart. You just have to follow your instincts.

5. Get organized. School and life are only going to get harder and busier and more complicated from here on out. Get organized now. Learn how to manage your time. Don’t procrastinate. These are habits that will help you in middle school, in high school, in whatever career you choose, and in life for a long time to come.

6. Be kind. Adolescence can be tough and awkward and uncomfortable. Remember that everyone is struggling with something. Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself. Even when it’s not popular, be compassionate and courteous.

7. Be confident. You are awesome. Don’t ever forget that. You can do anything you set your mind to. You will change the world – I’m sure of it.
Surround yourself with the right kind of people. There is an old saying (that I heard many times from Memaw and Paw) that says something like “you are no better than the company you keep.” If others are mean or deceitful or immoral or if they try to change you, then they are not the kind of people with whom you should spend time. Rise above them.

8. Remember that we will always love you. Daddy and I are here for you anytime you need us and there is nothing you can say or do that will make us stop loving you. If you have questions, we will find answers. If you are unsure how to handle a situation, we will gladly give you guidance. If your heart is breaking, we will dry your tears. If you have made a mistake, we will help you amend it. If you are about to explode with joy, we will share your happiness. All you have to do is come to us. We are NEVER too busy for you and your “problems” are NEVER too small or too big. All you have to do is talk. We will listen. I promise.

9. Have fun. You are on the brink of learning so much and experiencing so much. It won’t all be easy going – there will be bumps in the road. But, despite the bumps, there will also be lots to enjoy. Smile. Laugh. Make new friends. Soak it in. Enjoy this stage in your life. Believe me, it will go by faster than you can believe!

This post was originally featured on Lisa’s blog, The Golden Spoons. Photo via

I’m so behind this week with getting posts done the night before, so I’m actually sitting here at 8:05 this morning and guess who just left to do their driver’s test? The marvelous Mackenzie!! She’s spent the past year and a half practicing and I hope that she’s one of the lucky few who nail it on their first try.  A lot of parents dread the day that their teen gets a driver’s license, but not me.. I’ve got 5 very good reasons why I will be glad to have a teen driver in the house!!

1) I don’t set the curfew

In NC for the first 6 months, you can’t drive past 9:00 pm and every parent and teen knows that the “good stuff” doesn’t happen until 10:00. Now that she’s driving, her cute little tail will be plopped right back in my house by 9:00. So if I know that a particularly big, juicy party is about to go down, I can confidently hand over the keys and say “have a great time! see you at 9!!” without being the Bad Mom!

2) C’s or better

From what I’ve been told (but I’ve heard so many different stories), the state of NC will only let you keep your license if your grades are C or better. Double-fricking-w00t!! Again.. no longer do I have to be the enforcer of good grades and dubbed the Bad Mom.

3) Errands!

Remember when you got your license? You looked for any excuse to drive. As a person who commutes over 350 miles a week, by the time Friday rolls around, the last thing I want to do is drive. As a matter of fact, I would be happy as a lark if I could park on Friday and not drive again until Monday. Now I have an errand girl. A gopher girl. A Suzy-checkout girl. Forget the sugar? Send her on to the Teeter. Little sister needs to go on a playdate? Have Kenzie take you. Want to go to the mall? Be back by 9.

4) Wheels = Freedom.. & a Job

We’ve been discussing jobs for a while now and I’m super proud of the fact that she’s already put in a few applications. Before the driver’s license she was limited to what would fit in our schedule but with a license, the options opens up a bit more for her because you know….

5) Life is expensive

Finally the chance to let it start registering how expensive life is. The rules haven’t been established yet, but I have no plan on paying for “cruising gas”. (Remember cruising?? Our preferred track in the 80’s was High Point Road and Battleground.) The one thing that HAS been discussed is that if there is a ticket, she will be paying her part of the insurance. I was somewhat pleasantly surprised to see that our insurance isn’t going up as much as I thought it would, but it’s still more than we’re paying now. A lot more. Suddenly she’ll understand why her friends who already drive look for a little cash when they cart her and her friends around. Gas ain’t cheap and neither is life.

Getting your license is possibly one of the biggest steps into independence and freedom. And while part of me is sad that she’s getting her license, I’m happy for her to continue her path of independence and blossoming.

God speed sweet girl :)

This post was originally featured on Kristen’s blog, Four Hens And A Rooster.

I remember when The Kid was an infant and I was carrying her around in one of those convertible car seat numbers. DH and I were at this store where they sell plants. I don’t know why because my thumb is just about as green as a carrot, but there we were.

A lovely woman walked up to me and said, “Enjoy this stage because it’s the easiest.” I looked at her like she was nuts.

I was in the throe’s of midnight feedings, witching hours and projectile vomit. Not to mention the dairy factory hanging from my chest that made more milk than was demanded. There was no way in hell that she knew what she was talking about.

It turns out, she did know what she was talking about. She was totally and completely 110% correct. The terrible twos were just that. And the threes were beyond awful. I didn’t think anything could be as hard as the threes.

But alas…there was something. The Teen Years. It’s like trying to pass a rock through your rectum. It’s really hard.

I remember being a teen. I sucked. Although my teen isn’t as horrible as I was, she’s still a teen. I will put money down that even Mother Teresa wasn’t all that great when she was 16. Okay, maybe she was. Bad example.

I’m talking about the attitude. You know the one? Yeah, that. Sometimes I fear her. My kid. The kid I pushed out of my down below. The kid I gave life to. The kid who is 31 years younger than me and weighs as much as that one persistent chin hair that keeps appearing out of nowhere.

When I ask a simple question like, “did you do your homework or empty the dishwasher,” I am met by Sybil, the girl with 16 personalities. Accompanied with the ever-present eye-roll. The eye-roll that is universally understood. It says, “I hate you, you are annoying, now go away.”

On top of that, there’s the worry. It was so easy when you knew exactly where they were. Which was usually within yards of us.

There was the quiet fear of injuries from jumping on beds or if they were going to decide to play Hide & Seek when you turned your back for 2 seconds at Kohl’s. Instantly turning us moms into crazed lunatics, screaming for our children, thinking they were gone forever, when they were merely feet away, mocking us from under a clothes round.

These days there are boys (or girls), and cars, and drugs, and alcohol everywhere.  Not to mention social media. Hoping they don’t befriend some deranged stranger who may come and chop her up into little pieces behind the mall.

All these things make you worry so bad, the grays are doing double-time. The wrinkles making a map to Hell on your forehead.

There is also the very simple, scientifically proven fact that teenagers’ brains aren’t fully developed; therefore, allowing them to truly feel they are invincible. This little scientific fact lasts until a human is into their twenties. God help us.

So, what is my advice to survive this stage that is called Teen-dom?

1.) A thick skin

2.) Advil

3.) Strong vodka

4.) Enough patience to make Job (you know, that guy from the bible?) seem like a toddler

5.) Prayer

Other than all that, teens are great. You know, if you like to sit through the same episode of *Caillou 2,000 times while someone is hitting you in the face with a mallet.

Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little. Perhaps the mallet isn’t necessary.

*For those of you who are blissfully unaware of who Caillou (kie-you) is, he is an annoying and whiney little 4-year old who was created to make the lives of parents everywhere absolute hell on earth.

This post was originally featured on Maureen’s blog, Momfeld

We’re 3 years into this teenage thing with another good 9 years ahead of us and there are some days that I am as clueless as I was when they were babies and toddlers.

At least when they were little and cried you could pretty much narrow down what their problems were. Now when one of them cries, it could start out for one reason and end up being something completely different by the time the last teardrop falls.

I’ve found myself shaking my head and saying “what the hell just happened THERE?!” more often than not.. especially with 2 in the house now.

READ MORE: 7 Things Teens Need To Know About Relationships

Most days I feel like I’m one of those “wah-wah” adults from Charlie Brown.. I talk, offer my sage wisdom (and you know I have a ton of it) and life experiences and they tune me out. Just like I tuned my parents out. But if they were listening to me? These are the 5 things they’d hear me saying most often.

1) The teenage years pretty much suck.

There are no 2 ways about this one. Anyone who tells you they don’t is lying to you and you should stop talking to them. While there are some great points to it, largely the 5 years between 13 and 18 are chock-full of more twists and turns than a roller coaster at Great Adventure. So when you’re having a great day, relish it because most likely, tomorrow (or the next 5 minutes) will be different.

2) The people you’re in school with will disappear when your graduate.

I don’t care if you’ve been BFFs since Kindergarten, unless your entire gang never moves out-of-town once you graduate high-school, you’ll hardly ever see them again. I know it seems insane to think that, but it’s so true. So try and remember that when you’re stressing over who screwed who over and who dissed you for someone else.

READ MORE: An Open Letter To My Son

3) You’re going to get busted. 

Oh this one is so hard because you think you’re so smart and sneaky and while you probably will get away with it a couple of times – maybe even more times than not – at some point you’re going to get cold-hard busted. Why? Because teenagers don’t pay attention to details. Especially when you add social media sites into the mix. I’ve busted my 16-year-old several times because one of the friends I knew she was supposed to be with posted an Instagram shot or sent a tweet out that just happened to land in my lap that indicated an entirely different story.

4) You’ll regret not working harder in class.

High school is what we adults call a necessary evil. No one needs chemistry or Algebra 3 in their everyday life (okay.. SOME people do…) but you have to do it in order to get the credits you need to get in a good college. While it may seem like a great idea to wait til the day before Christmas break is over to start studying for exams, trust us.. it’s not. Take 30 minutes each day and read a little more than you should – it will pay off when you’re going to WFU instead of a community college.

5) Stop worrying about who you make happy.

There are 2 people whose happiness you need to worry about. Yours and your moms. And the funny thing is that if you’re happy, chances are your mom is happy. Unless your dad made me mad. I watch my 16-year-old bust her tail to make her friends happy and you know what? She gets screwed over every time. I’m not saying she’s guiltless in some of the things, but I know she says “I’m sorry” a lot more than she has to in order to make peace with her friends. It’s happening a lot less frequently, so we’re getting somewhere in our lessons. The next time you feel like selling out to make a friend happy, remember #2 above.

All this being said, high-school will be on of the most significant chunks of your life that you remember forever and time will end up weeding out most of the crappy parts. (Until you have kids of your own and are forced to remember the intensely bad moments.) You’ll love seeing your classmates when you come home from college and at your reunions. You’ll always have a sense of pride when you hear that your alma mater won a game and when one of your former teachers passes away, it’ll sweep you back to her class and the lessons she taught.

Hang in there dear, sweet 16-year-olds… while it may seem as though you’re living thru hell, in a blink it will be over. And you’ll wish it were back.

Sort of.

This post was originally featured on Kristen’s blog, Four Hens And A Rooster.

Dear Daughter,

I have a decade before you’ll leave the nest. Ten years is forever to you, but a quick breeze to me. Before it flies by, here’s my advice.

Take it seriously. Take it with a grain of salt.

1.) Contrary to what I may have said during Family Game Night, there are no rules. Ignore people who tell you there is only one way to achieve your goals. Figure out your own means of finding happiness. Also, your dad and I totally saw you cheat at Chutes & Ladders.

READ MORE: Things Nobody Should Ever Say To Moms

2.) I never did figure out how to install the batteries in your Disney Princess Castle. You likely inherited my lack of mechanical skills. If so, make friends with a mechanic. I said friends, that doesn’t mean you have to sleep with said mechanic.

3.) Remember that time you hid in the bathroom to eat chocolate you’d smuggled? Limit and manage your vices. You may have noticed over the years that I (ahem) frequently enjoy my wine. But you may have also noticed that I don’t eat fast food, don’t smoke (anymore), and I don’t drink and drive. Limit and manage. Also, you may not choose heroin as one of your vices.

READ MORE: Time Is Not On My Side

4.) Like me, you’ve always been treat-motivated. We’re like Labradors in that respect. This can be problematic. Find a physical activity to fall in love with. Suggestions: running, hot yoga, soccer. If you choose hot yoga, be warned: you will probably fart in front of your fellow yoga practitioners at some point. It’s not the end of the world. Do not choose sleeping around as your preferred physical activity. Also, don’t swim in the ocean. If you do swim in the ocean, then I’ve completely failed in instilling in you an irrational fear of sharks.

5.) At the age of five you lamented how long it would take until you could have a baby of your own. But really, thirty years isn’t that long. Stay on birth control until you’re thirty.

6.) The teens and twenties were, hands down, the most difficult times of my life. It’s confusing, emotional, and stressful. Try to have fun. If you’re feeling down, call me. I’ll play hooky and we’ll go to lunch and a movie.

READ MORE: So Long, It’s Been Good To Know You

7.) It’s important to be kind. But you’ve always known that and you certainly don’t need me to tell you now. Thank you for teaching this one to me.

8.) At your birthday parties over the years, I’ve hired clowns, painted faces, baked cupcakes, and wrapped towers of presents. My birthday is September 22nd. Don’t you forget it.

9.) You told me that you never wanted to get married because you don’t know how to dance. It’s okay to change your mind. Your dad is a phenomenal dancer; he’ll teach you.

10.) If you get a tattoo, please let me come with you. Trust me; I have experience. It is the only type of parlor in which I actually know what I’m doing.

11.) When you were little, you humped a pool noodle at a party and told the hosts how good it felt on your pee-pee. Don’t lose that ability to speak your truth.

12.) My father once told me that as he aged, he realized the world was very black and white, composed of good and evil. I want to tell you the complete opposite. The world is gray, a million (not fifty) shades of beautiful gray. Good and evil are not so easily separated. You’ll have to decide for yourself how you want to see the world, but I hope that even if you do see it in black and white, you’ll stumble on a rainbow every now and then. Without the assistance of psychedelic drugs.

Take my words as lightly or as seriously as you choose. Take care in the world. Or come home for care when you need to.

Love,
Mom

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