When I couldn’t get my 2-year-old to poop on the potty, I was totally unprepared for this to be a thing. Poop refusal? Who knew?
So I reached out to my friends and doctor and the internet and was reassured quickly that this was totally and completely normal. Help was at the ready and I learned moms love and are more than willing to share poop related advice world without end amen.
And all the advice was a sanity saver.
What I was also unprepared for was how this advice would dry up once my kids reached the teen years. The wealth of support for our kids tapers off little by little as they grow often because we stop asking for it. The stories and struggles our kids are having become more personal and they don’t want us discussing their poop or really any part of them with anyone at all. Ever.
By the time you are parenting teens, you can feel so very alone.
And the worst part is the problems you are facing with teens tend to be 1000 times bigger than anything poop-related. Now not only are we not talking about what is going on, but what we are not talking about are huge issues.
If our children lie to us about where they are and who they are with, who do we turn to?
If we find drugs or alcohol under their mattresses when we are cleaning their rooms, who do we share this with?
If grades are a struggle and we are not sure how to help them through it can be so hard to admit these struggles to the world.
If we find out our child is sexually active who can we go to share our concerns?
We stop talking about struggles with grades, anxiety, depression, friendships, substance abuse, gender identity . . . because our teens almost always want the privacy and space to deal with their issues just as any adult would. And they deserve that space. So many of the issues they are struggling with could have repercussions for them in the actual world. For a parent trying to support these almost-but-not-yet-grown children, things get tricky really fast.
We need to help our loves with these new and high stakes issues but can feel completely ill-equipped to do so. Just as I had no idea what to do with the kid who refused to poop, I now have no idea what to do with whatever my teen has shared with me at the moment.
Or worse, I have no idea how to deal with the fact they will share nothing.
On top of it all, because we all stop talking about the struggles our kids are having, we wrongly assume everyone else’s kids are doing just fine. It’s just ours. It’s just us. We are all alone and don’t know what to do or who to turn to.
Yet I have found as I have dared to share what my teens are going through is that every single parent I have ever reached out to has shared parenting teens is harder than it looks.
We are not alone. We are parenting side-by-side still, we just have to look around.
We may be left to navigate the line of equipping ourselves to support our kids without betraying their confidences, but there are others in our same boat. And I guarantee the mom posting pictures of her child’s million college acceptances or amazing sports feats or awards and accolades galore has experienced her share of struggles along the way even if she hasn’t said a thing.
While we might not be able to ask our questions about our teens as a shout out on Facebook, we do need to remember there are places we can go to reach out. It’s more important than ever to have a few trusted friends or family members we can talk to. It’s doubly more important than ever to spend time in prayer over our kids.
Friends, find your people. Reach out not just for yourself, but because your people need you too. Talk to God every single day. Rest in His word. And work with your kiddos to help them reach out to as many people as possible. Let them know you will keep their confidence but in order to help them, you might need to assemble the troops . . . for both their sake and yours.
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