Inside this post: It can be lonely raising teenagers, and here are some of the many reasons why.
I’ve always heard about the loneliness that comes while raising teens.
Most days, I don’t understand it.
I don’t understand it because my life with teenagers seems so full, so loud, so in-my-face 24-hours a day.
My schedule is packed with sports meets and dress shopping and book ordering. I constantly shuttle people my size across town while stopping at the grocery store every day. Someone always wants me to write them a check or texts me to pick them up or yells down the stairs to say they are out of deodorant or razors or shampoo.
And even though my kids are pulling away, they are also needy at the same time. They need me to teach them to drive and to review an email to their teacher and to remind them that the glitter plate they are about to put in the microwave will catch on fire.
Sometimes I feel like I’m at their beck and call, and in a weird sort of way, that’s just the way it is during these teen years. You need to let them become as independent as possible while staying available through it all.
When my kids were younger, I could strike up a conversation with another mother at a playground or a friend at a school event. I could easily share my parenting issue and almost always find someone who could relate, which meant it was something I could solve.
But now, the problems are distinct, personal, and sometimes taboo. There are issues I don’t want to be shared, and I worry about who I can trust and who has my teenager’s best interest at heart. Sometimes I just don’t need additional judgment.
And in the moments when I’m in the thick of it, in those times when one of my children is talking back, is acting like the world ended, is struggling, is lying to my face—the truth is I’ve never felt so alone.
Why Is It So Lonely Raising Teenagers?
We want to protect our teen’s privacy
Let’s be honest, no one wants to highlight their kid’s screw-ups on social media. No one talks about their teen’s poor decisions at curriculum night. No one wants to share that their kid was caught drinking or kicked off a team for vaping or something worse.
We also don’t want to talk about all the ways we feel like we are screwing our kids up each and every day.
In the early years, we could discuss openly any challenges we were having with our kids and parents would share their wisdom and best advice. There was a level of support that was incredibly comforting amidst the chaos of raising littles.
When you’re in a group of parents of teens, however, you don’t normally discuss your adolescent’s crippling anxiety or depression or eating disorders.
It’s bad enough that teens today have so much of their lives documented on the Internet and social media by other people.
No one wants to make their teen a target or have them judged. I mean, we don’t want to feel judged as parents either.
So we don’t talk about our teen’s struggles, and subsequently, our own.
These aren’t our stories to tell, and we have to protect their privacy.
So sometimes we sit in a pool of sadness and isolation and we wonder if we are the only ones who feel this way.
It’s lonely raising teenagers because you feel like you are always messing up
No one wants to admit that you may have messed up this parenting gig. You often feel like you are the only one whose kid acts out or locks themselves in their room or stomps around all the time.
You wonder, “Why is my kid treating me like this?”
You ask yourself, “What am I doing wrong?”
You worry, “What kind of person am I raising?”
And it is painful to know that your child is carrying around a heavy weight and knowing you are helpless to fix it, that at times they don’t even want you involved.
Even when you know you have good kids, it’s tough to have perspective and clarity when feel like you are the only one screwing your kids up every day. So raising teens is lonely.
You feel alone in murky, shark-infested, unchartered waters, drowning in a sea of teenage angst.
It’s emotionally exhausting
You want to know more about the details of your teen’s life, yet it often seems like you are watching a television show on mute. They decide what information to share and when to provide it to you, if at all.
And when they do let you in on what’s going on in your life, it can break your heart. It is so painful to know that your kid is having mental health struggles or ostracized by their peers or was humiliated online.
The worst part? You really can’t do a thing about it to make it any better, and that weight sits on you all the time.
That saying “small kids, small problems, big kids, big problems.” They weren’t kidding.
You will never stop worrying
Then there’s the worry that comes with raising teenagers. The driving and staying out later and wondering if their friends are trustworthy. It’s hoping they know that you’ll be there if they are in a situation they don’t want to be in, or that they will come talk to you if they are in trouble.
We wonder if we have taught them enough, done enough to prepare them for the world, loved them enough to always feel worthy in this crazy world?
You start to think you are a little crazy to think you are worried so much, so you don’t share that you are so worried all the time.
Teens do all the things
We’re lonely raising teenagers because we miss our friends.
I crave time with the women who get me, my Mom squad, the people who love my kids like their own, yet it seems impossible to find a date that works. We feel lonely raising teens because you just miss the lifeline your friends provided before your schedule revolved around your big kids’ activities.
Whereas you once caught up at playdates and birthday parties, or the occasional mom’s night out starting at 7:30 when all of your kids were in bed, your life is now constantly apologizing for not being able to get together because of football games or band competitions or debate tournaments or college trips. You go out of town every weekend or need to be at a 9 p.m. performance or a 7:20 a.m. match.
There is always something, even though your heart hurts because you know one day there will be nothing left to go to.
And tweens and teens have serious social lives. Sometimes you feel like you are always in the car and wonder if you just passed yourself on the road.
Even with kids who drive, you still sometimes need to be around to buy the dresses or pick up something late or deliver food. Or sometimes we just want to be available to your teen in the case they may need us.
The irony is the heavier stuff we are dealing with our teens requires trust, privacy, and connection, yet it’s so hard to make that happen.
But most of all, I miss my kids before they are even gone, knowing that they are breaking free a little more every day.
You can feel like you are losing them during the teenage years, even though they’re right there in front of you.
One day, you are laughing and getting along, the next you feel like you are sitting with a stranger you don’t know in the least.
Their appearances have changed and they suddenly tower over you with pimply faces and a messy bun. Their personalities sometimes shift , from sweet and loving to salty and stoic. They aren’t interested in the same things or they have jobs or their noses might be stuck in their phones.
Their friends become more important, or they may have a boyfriend or girlfriend. On the other end of the spectrum, you can be the parent of a lonely teen and it is so painful to watch them retreat to their room and sit in solitude, constantly worried about their wellbeing and limited social interactions.
.You may feel desperate to cling to the child you once knew, the one who adored you, the one you got along with, the one whose hand you thought you’d hold forever.You may feel like crying from their constant rejection. You may feel lost when you can’t get them back on track. You may feel insignificant when they ignore you or lash out.
You just feel so damn lonely raising teenagers.
But while they are the work of our past, we also need to remember they have their own future. The end of their childhood is now closer than the beginning. And even in the midst of their breakdowns and snarkiness and eye-rolls, even when we wonder if we screwed this entire parenting job up, we know we will miss these glorious, sarcastic, messy, magnificent creatures.
Every part of them.
The loneliness of raising teenagers is constant, palpable, perhaps even unavoidable
And maybe even necessary to prepare us for what’s coming next.