Parenting Older Kids: A Different Kind of Hard

Parenting little ones is hard. They don’t sleep. They cry. A lot. You have to feed them. Then, you have to teach them how to feed themselves. There’s potty training, separation anxiety, sleep struggles, play dates, preschool, and when exactly do they move up to a booster seat?

I couldn’t wait until my kids could dress themselves, wipe their own bums, make their own breakfast, reach their own snacks, and clean up their own mess. I didn’t understand that just because my children can do all those things and more, it doesn’t make parenting older kids any easier.

A Different Kind of Hard Parenting Older KidsParenting older kids and teenagers is still hard.  It’s just a different kind of hard.

Back then, I lost sleep with fussy babies or sick kids. Now, I lose sleep waiting for my teenager to get home from a late night out with friends or a post-play cast party.

Back then, I worried that my decision to keep my child home from preschool another year would affect her ability to read and write. Now I worry about GPA, AP classes, and SAT scores affecting the rest of her life!

Parenting Teenagers A Different Kind of Hard

When they were small, I worried about vaccine schedules, developmental progress, and fine motor skills. Now I worry about mental health, technology addiction, and my young teen’s budding interest in boys.

I am overwhelmed with the magnitude of the problems that face our teenagers today. There are days I feel like I have completely screwed up my kids already. Some days I wonder, “What did we do wrong?” Sometimes, I don’t recognize the boy glaring at me from across the dinner table. I occasionally think I would rather spend eternity with that needy, albeit happy, 3-year-old than one more second with this grumpy, moody 13-year-old.  

There are things I miss about those days with my young kids. I mourn the children they used to be. I watch a video of them in all their cuteness and sigh in remembrance.

Parenting Teenagers A Different Kind of Hard

It’s oh-so-tempting to say that things were easier back then. But then I’ll see a picture of myself with bags under my eyes, my hair thrown up in a messy bun, my yoga pants worn out from way too much use (and not any actual yoga). I remember feeling so tired, overwhelmed, and desperate for some time to myself and I know those days weren’t easier. Life was just as hard.

It was just a different kind of hard.

What stage of hard are you in?
What advice can you offer other moms in different stages of life?
Share your hard-earned wisdom below!

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