I hope as you read that title, you heard Adele singing! While that song refers to a breakup, the “other side” I am going to be referring to is life as a parent of a teenager. While I know it was a long time ago, it seems that my teenage years were only yesterday. School, friends, and my high school boyfriend were the only cares I had during those years. And yet, I couldn’t wait to grow up and be an adult, mainly because that meant no curfew and that I could do whatever I wanted, which was going to be fun, right?
Oh, how naive teenagers are!
Although I only had those three cares in the world, the teenager years were still tough, as they are for anyone. Oh, the drama of being a teenager — how in the world could parents even understand what teenagers are going through, I would think to myself.
Now being on the other side of things, I can safely say that I wish I could go back to my teenage years, because being a parent of a teenager, while rewarding, is tough. You think the grass is always greener on the other side until you get to the other side and there is nothing but stepping in mud, to put it nicely. Oh, if I only I knew then what I know now.
To the Teenager in Me: Oh, the curfew was almost like a death sentence as a teenager. How in the world could I have a curfew? Why couldn’t I just go out with my friends and stay until the fun was over? As a teenager, I felt like I was in prison when given a curfew, even though I had a great curfew, probably better than I deserved!
To the Parent in Me: I cannot sleep until I know my children are home and safe, until I hear the car pull in the driveway, and they are in their beds. Now that I am the parent, I know this curfew was more for them than me (although it was for me, too), as they just wanted to finally get some sleep!
We know there is really nothing good that happens after midnight. Even as adults this saying is true. Therefore, we need to know our children are home and not out in the world doing whatever.
Wanting to Know Every Move
To the Teenager in Me: Can I not have any privacy!? Why do you need to know what I am doing, when I am doing it, and where it is all happening? I am 16-years-old! I am old enough to make my own decisions. Isn’t having a curfew bad enough?
To the Parent in Me: Oh, child. What little you know while you think you know so much. Now that I am on the other side of things, I realize why parents need to know all of that information. For starters, as a parent, we ask these questions to help keep teenagers accountable for being where they say they are and doing what they say they are going to do.
In addition, it helps give us a running start on that paper trail of yours in case you end up late for curfew and we need to start calling and/or driving to where you are. Plus, if the location ends up on the news, we need to know that we need to hurry up and find you.
The Pushing and Nagging
To the Teenager in Me: The never-ending pushing and nagging (or, what I called it) my parents would do when it came to school and other activities. Am I doing my best? Am I trying my hardest? Any time I wanted to just be average, they would start with the pushing and the nagging, and I would wonder why. It is okay to be average, I would think, especially when I wouldn’t want to put more effort into something like a school project or when I’d settle for a B rather than an A on a test.
To the Parent in Me: Here I am, on the other side, doing the pushing and the nagging. Why did you get a B or C when I know you can get straight As? Why are you not taking a few advanced classes in high school to get ahead?
Our parents pushed us for the same reason we are pushing now: because we want better for our children, because we want them to reach their potential, because we want them to have everything they want in life, and to do that, they need to know how to work hard and never give up!