There was a time I tried hard, exceptionally hard, to be a “good” mom.
I signed my kids up for all the right things and baked cookies and dressed them up in cute clothes.
I taught them to read and put them on all the right teams and had playdates with all the people.
I cooked nutritious meals and limited screen time and helped in their classrooms.
Related: 10 Important Things Tweens Need from Their Parents Before the Teen Years
And while all those things were so worth doing, it’s not what made me a good mom. It certainly didn’t stop my kids from experiencing challenges or making some bad choices.
What does good parenting during the teen years look like?
As we move into the teen years, I’m not even sure what a good mom looks like.
Is it holding your teenager’s hand while she deals with crushing anxiety?
Is it keeping your temper in check when they look into your eyes and lie?
Is it pushing your teen to meet their potential or letting them fall on their face?
Is it letting them get behind the wheel again after having an accident that was their fault? (Related: Nothing Prepares You for the Words, “Mom, I Was in a Car Accident”)
Can a good mom have a kid who gets bad grades, vapes, or sneaks out of their house?
Does a good mom let their kid on social media or do they monitor their every move?
Did a good mom ever have a child who cheated or stole or broke the law?
There was a time when I strived to be a good mom. There was a time I probably tried too hard.
No one knows what they are doing when it comes to parenting teenagers
But what I realized about these adolescent years is we can only do what we think is right when raising our kids, and then the rest is up to luck and your teen’s choices.
Will an impulsive young teen join his friends who are throwing eggs at cars parked in their driveways?
Will an insecure girl decide not to get in an automobile with someone who has been drinking?
Will a shy adolescent say no to someone pushing them sexually or to drink or try drugs?
Will an impressionable 16-year-old remember safety protocols when someone tempts him online? Will a college freshman know to meet someone from a dating app at a public place?
These are just a few of the bad choices our kids face, the ones raised by parents just doing their best.
We need to parent the kid in front of us
So, I no longer try to be a GOOD parent.
I just try to be THEIR parent, the one they need me to be at any given moment in their turbulent lives.
Related: There Is Hope On The Other Side Of Heartache In The Teen Years
Sometimes I’m the parent who has strict rules and boundaries. Sometimes I’m the one that picks up their room. Sometimes I’m the one who may snoop on their phone when I fear something is wrong. Sometimes I’m the one who stays up late helping them finish a project. Sometimes I’m the one who won’t drop off their forgotten assignment at school.
And sometimes, I’m still the one who bakes cookies.
What I’ve learned from parenting teenagers is there are no good parents, and there are no good kids.
We’re all just doing the best we can with the hand we got dealt.
And while we can try to play the odds and be smart and guess what might be coming next, a lot of it comes down to luck to see how our teens will play their cards.
I no longer want to be a good parent, whatever that means.
I want to be the parent my kids need, and however that looks on any given day–I’m okay with that.
Do you feel alone in the struggle of raising your teen?
This post is part of Loving Hard When They’re Hard to Love, a book of 55 essays on raising teens in today’s chaotic times. Written by the co-owner of the blog Parenting Teens and Tweens, book will help you reframe your relationship with your teen and see how the greatest way to change your relationship with your teen is by working on yourself.
Parenting Teens and Tweens is hard, but these popular posts other parents found helpful can make it a little easier:
Moms of Teens, Sometimes All You Can Do Is The Next Right Thing
10 Ways To Build A Strong Relationship With Your Tween or Teen That Lasts
This is how it feels to be the mother of a teenage boy
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