Mothering teens

photo by Wolfgang Stearns
photo by Wolfgang Stearns

When my kids were younger I wanted to instill grand ideas; how to be a kind person, how to have empathy, how to be honest, how to have good manners. They were so little and I was so adamant.

Now they are teenagers.

My ideas have changed. I remind them to wear coats, I remind them to eat. I remind them that mistakes happen, sometimes, big mistakes happen. What path is to be taken after making those mistakes? What wise choices make themselves available? Will they avail?

Be happy, not necessarily behaved. (but don’t get arrested)
Be strong, not necessarily compliant. (but don’t get expelled)
Be true to yourself, not to society’s expectations. (but don’t break your curfew)

This part of parenting, this evolution and expansion of thought makes me wince and smile and stare out windows with glassy half-closed eyes in the midnight solitude.

Before I had kids, I knew exactly what kind of mother I wanted to be. I knew the rules, I knew the consequences. As the years go by, I know less and less. Who’s rules do I follow? What really are the consequences?
How can I know less now than I knew then?

Make mistakes, take chances. (but be safe)
Take a risk, don’t always take the safe way out. (but be wise)
Strike out a new path. (but don’t forget where you came from)

Of course, it’s just a matter of what I thought I knew. Now I really know, that I don’t know anything.

6 thoughts on “Mothering teens”

    1. Cynthia, I’m right in the middle of the teenage years (14 and 16) and I don’t know the answer to your question. I don’t know. I wish I could make myself tiny and ride in their pockets.
      I can tell you that I enjoy their company tremendously at this age. I love relating on a more adult level and laughing and telling stories. It’s a frightening time and a wonderful time all in one.


  1. It’s not that you don’t know anything (contrary to William Goldman). It’s that you know enough to know that you don’t know _everything_. There is a difference. 8^). The “more you know, the more you know you don’t know” principle.

    I really like your blog. And it’s a blessing to have your family work together with you on it. My mother – a wonderful musician – recently passed on. And, even though I’m learning to play the guitar, I regret that we didn’t get to play music together.

    She did always encourage me to put my pictures with my poems – and that’s the cornerstone of my blog, now. Just one more thing she was right about, lol.


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