The teenage years will break you.

It will test your resolve, your patience, your parenting choices.

It will make you feel lonely and ostracized when you’re the only parent saying no.

It will make you feel insignificant and unworthy when your teenager lashes out.

It will make you wonder how one person can have so much laundry.

It will make you feel broken and lost when you can’t seem to get your kid back on track.

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It will test your ability to keep your mouth shut when you need to pick and choose your battles. You will feel like your head may explode when you walk past their room.

It will test your ability to forgive when your teenager messes up—which they will, over and over again.

It will make you wonder where you went wrong.

It will make you feel helpless as you watch your kid face a world so much more complicated than the one we grew up in just two decades ago.

It will test your nerves as you watch them hop into a car or go on a trip or even a date leaving you to feel helpless and unable to protect them.

It will make you feel weak and feeble when you can’t help them quash their anxiety about school or relationships or how they will survive in this tough world.

It will make you bone-tired from driving and worry and worry and driving.

It will make you feel the weight of guilt so heavy it crushes you.

Yes, these challenging teenage years will break you.

You’ll smile all day when your teenage daughter surprisingly pecks you on the cheek before she left for school or drop everything you’re doing because your son asked you to watch a video on his phone, your two heads almost touching looking at the small screen.

Your heart will burst with happiness when you hear how kind they’ve been to a stranger.

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You’ll find yourself challenged to look at the world in new ways because of their budding idealism.

You’ll feel unabashed pride as they find their passions, finish their education, start chasing their dreams.

You’ll see glimpses of the person they are becoming, and you begin to look forward to seeing what they will do with their life.

You will learn to accept change because there is no turning back.

You’ll learn that any communication is good communication, so you’ll learn about emojis and snaps and Instagram.

You will buy the best snacks so they’ll want to bring their friends over, and you’ll spend your last dollar at Starbucks just to get a few extra moments in the car with them.

You will sneak into their room some nights, and they will still be awake. But as they are lying in their bed scrolling their phone or finishing homework or listening to music, for a brief moment you’ll see that toddler face again, and your heart will break into pieces. And then when they look up at you with sleepy eyes as you kiss them on the forehead, and if you are very fortunate, say something like, “I love you too,” you’ll sleep easy that night.

Yes, these teenage years will break you in every way; but, if you’re lucky, you’ve raised people who will help put you back together again.

Originally published on Playdates on Fridays by Whitney Fleming

Parenting teenagers can be tough. We love the insight in How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk . Don’t have time to sit and read? You can listen here, on Audible.

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Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a communications consultant, and blogger. She tries to dispel the myth of being a typical suburban mom although she is often driving her minivan to soccer practices and attending PTA meetings. She writes about parenting, relationships, and w(h)ine on her blog Playdates on Fridays.