Friday, January 8, 2016

15 Reasons Why I Love Parenting A Teen

It was a Saturday night a few months ago, and my two younger kids were on a sleepover with their cousins at my parents' house, C was out celebrating a friend’s birthday and wouldn’t be home until late at night. It was just me and my 15-year old daughter. We had just come home from attending a thanksgiving dinner, and she wanted to watch Mean Girls together. And so even if I’ve seen it so many years ago, I forced myself to watch it again with her. So there we were, laughing together at all the funny parts and agreeing how “uncool” and “pa-cool” the mom of Regina George was.

It was at this moment, when we were laughing at the same things, that I realized… I absolutely adore having a teen!!! I love, love, love parenting a teen! I have never really been a “baby person.” I find infants too needy… they need help with everything? Personally, the older my kids become, the more I like being with them. Ooops! Did that come out bad? But it’s true! Hahaha!

Life has grown to that bittersweet moment when the oldest one (me!) has the smallest shoe size!

While we were watching the video, she was also busy chatting online with her friends on Messenger. And whenever her friends send her something she finds funny, or deplorable, or scandalous she would stop typing and go, ”Mom, guess what?” And she would proceed to share the details with me. I just love how she is so comfortable sharing everything with me.

I just love RIGHT NOW! If you ask me again next year, then without a doubt, next year is my favorite time to be a parent. I realized that no matter what, the present time is always My favorite time to be a parent! I just love to see how my kids are turning out to be.

Parenting teens is pretty much the best thing to ever happen to me! As of the moment I only have one teen; but in a month's time, I will have two. And in the year after this, it’ll be all three of them! I just feel the fiercest pride as I begin to see glimpses of their adult selves. They are in the process of discovering their gifts and passions, and I see them transforming into who they are becoming right in front of my eyes. Just love!

Here’s 15 Random Reasons Why I love Parenting Teens:

1. Interesting conversation during dinner time. Most of the time it’s about a friend's or their own drama; but it could also be about unreasonable teachers, annoying/funny things that happened in school, the crazy workout during swim training. Gasp! Sometimes even politics and geography. They could discuss religion, current affairs, politics, ancient civilization with their dad; and with me, they talk about their emotions, their friends, pop culture, music. It’s absolutely wonderful to see the world through their eyes.

2. They can now understand and speak sarcasm. Fluently. Which is of real essence, being that sarcasm is our native language.

3. I get an update about who they are interested in, and when someone is interested in them. We have a history of open communication so they tell me all the details - eagerly and excitedly! When someone they like messages them for the first time, they run to me to tell me about it... even before they reply to the convo.

4. They actually value my opinion and listen to my advice (most of the time).  There has been a time in the past that my oldest daughter was communicating with a boy whom I do not particularly think would be a good influence to her. When it went past the 6-month mark, and the exchanges started heading somewhere I don't think it should go, I casually told my daughter how I feel about her friend, and how it's best to keep the relationship on a "friendship level."  She followed my advice without any hesitations because she knows, through experience, that only I have her best interest at heart.

5.   When we can join party games - and actually win a prize for knowing each other too well! 
Winning the grand prize from one of the parties we attended this month! 
The game was "how well do you know each other?" Very well, obviously!

6. Being asked to listen to their Spotify playlist so they can share all the “cool” songs with me. Even if I don't particularly enjoy their chosen genre.

7. The can now self-discipline... sometimes. As they grow older, I've made the conscious effort to re-phrase when I demand obedience from them. When they were younger I would ask them to "obey," but now, I ask them to "practice self-discipline." It's still a work in progress, because teens naturally would like to test parental limits, but I know we are going to get there.

8. They tell me everything because our lines of communication are open. I have invested heavily in having an open relationship with them since they were very young. I am firm with them, but I have always been open to their thoughts and opinions, even if they differ from mine. This way, they know that if what they are asking is reasonable, their dad and I are open to a compromise. There's no need to lie or go behind our back.

9. Getting a “thank you” for being a strict mom. Honestly, my daughter has told me a couple of times, “I’m so thankful that you are strict with me, otherwise…”

10. When they hug/love/appreciate their siblings.

One of the things my Big Girl loves to do is to hug and kiss her younger brother... And one of the things the Li'l Man enjoys doing is to dodge the kissing bandit. #siblinglove

11. They can now pack their own vacation bag. I cringe whenever I remember how life was like when I used to pack for all 5 of us. Scary!!! All the kids pack their own luggage; if they forget any of the essentials, they just wing it and chalk it up to experience.

12. They know how to  be a good friend. They are loyal, tolerant and non-judgmental. Qualities that I've taught them to be from the time they started going to school. They bravely speak up to defend a friend who is wrongly accused. They love their friends for who they are and don't judge friends for mistakes. Similarly, they do not hesitate to clarify misunderstandings with friends so that petty conflicts are resolved immediately.

13. They have found + maintained strong, close and long-lasting friendships with persons whom they can connect + share their happiness and struggles. I’ve always prayed that they would have wisdom in choosing friends who are of good influence. I'm happy they've shown good judgment in choosing friends (most of the time), and that they've managed to keep them for several years now. I trust their choices and I love whoever they love (or at least, I try)!

14. Watching movies/TV is now is enjoyable for EVERYONE! I can finally watch decent shows with them. Goodbye, cartoons! Why, hello, Harvey Specter! We can sit together and enjoy watching Amazing Race, Suits, How To Get Away With Murder, Grandfathered and a whole lot more.

15. A hug and a kiss for no reason. Text messages within the day that just say “I love you, mom.”

I could go on. And on. And on.

I know not everyone feels the same way about raising teenagers. Because the fact remains that raising teenagers is hard work. But I honestly love this season of my life. I truly believe that the time I decided to quit my day job and decided to focus my entire life just raising my kids was the best decision of my life.  I easily gave up the best years of my life to devotedly be with my kids, and in exchange I have developed the love, trust and transparency in our relationship that I am taking pleasure in now. We are genuine with each other. No topic is off limits. They are comfortable going up to me, and talking about anything and everything.

Of course, no one is perfect. There is a chance that they will lie to me, disobey me, test my limits. But, that won’t be the end of their story, and the best years are still ahead of them. I pray that they will not break my heart, but if ever that time comes, I hope God will give me the grace to act with wisdom and patience so that I can be a model of steadfastness and unconditional love to my kids.