A little bit of humor goes a looooong way.
Most parents of typical toddlers are constantly challenged, mentally drained, and extremely exhausted. Not much changes when you're raising a teenager.
Though unlike the "Terrible Two's," teenagers are extremely verbal and, while you will still hear the emphatic "No," are like well-versed little lawyers: ready, willing, and able to defend or plead their case.
Just because they can feed themselves and wipe their own tushies, it doesn't make you home free. You still worry about what they eat, what they drink, if they play nice with others, and pray they sleep in their own beds.
Here are 10 truths of parenting a teenager:
1. Curfews are meant to be broken.
Taking a page out of my parent's handbook: "Better late than never." There really is no excuse not to call or text since their cell phones are — if they're born after 1990 — practically second skin. However, you'd rather they be late than driving like mad to get home on time. Deep breaths help while you wait.
2. They will say, "I hate you!"
No, they don't really hate you, no matter how many times or how convincingly they say it. They just can't think of anything else as potent to say. The sooner you get used to hearing it, the better.
3. They will claim that "everyone is doing it."
Not everyone is "doing it, going there, or even allowed to do it." Teens have been successfully pitting parents against each other for years. Don't fall for it.
4. They're more like you than you think.
Your parents warned you that you'd have a kid just like you, and they were right. (Don't ask me how I know.) What they didn't tell you is that it would be YOU times 100.
5. Whatever you say, they will do the opposite.
Say, "No, you mustn't," and no sooner do you turn your back, chances are they're already doing it. Every. Time. Pick your battles wisely.
6. They will claim that you don't understand.
Why, yes, yes I do. In fact, my generation, or maybe the generation before, invented that. So yes, I do understand and the answer is still NO.
7. They always want to borrow your things.
If you have a daughter and, if miraculously, she actually likes your taste, she will go shopping in your closet and will set her sites on your most precious possessions. Lucky for me, by the time my daughter was ready for heels, her feet were larger than mine. My handbags aren't as safe. All I ask is that they come back in the same condition as they left. So far, so good.
8. They want and need you.
They want you in their life more than they will ever let on. You may feel as if you're only an ATM or a chauffeur, but don't be fooled. Just don't ever expect to hear it.
9. They won't bring your car back in the same condition.
If they borrow the car it will most likely come back without gas and quite possibly smell like French fries, sweaty socks, or worse. I'm just thankful they got home safely with the car and themselves in tact. As I said, pick your battles wisely.
10. A little bit of humor goes a long way, especially when trying to diffuse idle threats.
If your teen leans toward the dramatic and threatens to run away because "you are so unfair" or the "worst parent ever," though you know (for sure) they would never leave the safety and security of home and an open wallet (not to mention a well-stocked pantry), smile and say, "Great, I'll help you pack." Then, hum excitedly as you make your way to the storage closet full of suitcases.
Start begging or insisting they stay, and you've turned this into a test of wills they might feel they have to make good on. Instead, let them save face and get annoyed you're not taking them seriously. They'll also be relieved. They just want to bitch and moan. It's part of the territory.
I say this with authority (though take it with a grain of salt): my attempts at running away got me as far as the edge of our driveway. Instinctively, I knew I wasn't going to get very far with a suitcase full of stuffed animals, two dollars, and a bag of Oreos. I just wanted to be heard. Your kids do, too.
This article was originally published at carpoolgoddess.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.