I think teenagers get a bad rap. I really do. I'm constantly seeing memes and viral Facebook posts and letters to the editor about "today's generation". As if that term is a dirty word. Repeated often are words like "lazy", "entitled", "disrespectful" and many other unflattering terms. And I think it's garbage.
YES, there are some crappy teenagers out there. But I think the percentage of "bad kids" today probably isn't any different than it was when I was a teen. And if "our generation" was so much better, and we KNOW what kids today need and how they should be parented, who exactly is raising these crappy teenagers? It certainly can't be all those perfect adults out there who think teenagers today suck. Because if those folks were raising them, I mean they wouldn't be so crappy, right?
We always "shudder" at the thought of our kids reaching their teenage years. Especially when they are already strong willed babies or toddlers or young children. But I have to say that it is so much more fun than I ever imagined it could be. After struggling through the sleepless nights and poopy diapers and teething pain and potty training and toddler tantrums and the excruciating elementary school jokes that are the same horrible jokes WE told when we were 8 - my reward is a trio of cute, funny young people that I can actually have real, grown up dialogue with. They actually GET the jokes that I think are funny. We can enjoy the same movies and books and TV shows. We can have serious, in depth conversations about life, friends, family, the gospel, REAL conversations that don't have to be simplified for younger minds. I honestly, truly LOVE being a parent of teenagers.
Do I know that I am the parent and not their "friend"? Of course! Do they still make me crazy, sometimes argue with my decisions or rules, roll their eyes at me and stomp out of the room in anger when I overrule them? Absolutely. I am the parent. I have been where they are, and I understand many things about life that they are still figuring out. But more often than not, we just really enjoy each other.
Also? I love their friends. More cute, funny young people. I love when they're hanging out at my house, or I'm driving them to the mall, or somewhere else they need to be. I love just listening to them enjoy good, healthy friendships. I love hearing the funny, dorky teenage things they say. I love the way they tease each other, talk about crushes, complain about certain teachers and just enjoy their young lives.
And they're not just all silly, frivolous teenage fluff. They do productive and meaningful things. From school musicals, to sports, to service projects, to church activities - they don't just spend all their time laying around playing video games and scrolling through Facebook. I'm not saying they don't do those things, even too much of those things! But that's not all they do. I've seen incredible kindness and compassion from these young people. And I love witnessing them all learn and grow together.
So young parents who fear the teenage years - take comfort. It can be a lot more fun than you have been led to believe! And other people (parents or non-parents) who truly don't see the amazing things today's generation of teenagers has to offer - I feel sorry for you.
P.S. Make no mistake - I still absolutely adore and enjoy my younger kiddos too. Just a different kind of enjoy - ya know?