the good, bad + ugly of parenting a teenager


This week, my first baby turned 15.  This sparks in me a domino run of cliche-but-true observations – those 15 years have flown by, parenting doesn’t necessarily get easier it just changes, and teenage boys really do sleep/smell/grunt a lot.  But how do I mark this occasion here on my blog?  I could write a post to him, but he’d never read it.  I could write a post about him, but I think he’d find that pretty cringe-worthy.  So I figured I’d reflect on what being a mum to a teenager has been like so far – the good, the bad and the ugly.


Raising a teen – the good

  • Seeing all our efforts pay off.  Of course we’re all proud of our kids and they make us proud in different ways at different times – the first time they write their name, or the first time they swim without arm bands.  But the teen years is where you see your efforts in encouraging, supporting and building your kids up really start to come to something.  All kids break away from the pack in one area or another, to achieve something that not everyone else can, to show a real talent for something.  For us, it’s his academic achievements and his competitive swimming success, both of which he makes look easy but which are far beyond anything I could have managed at his age.
  • Sharing music and book recommendations, and (if you’re lucky and your kid has taste) actually finding common ground to bond over.
  • Watching our child grow out of being, well…a child.  Of course it is heart wrenching to say goodbye to those days, but leaving behind childhood also means learning more about the person he will grow up to be.  And that is beyond exciting.  Seeing “when I grow up” fantasies turn into real interests and subject choices, sharing (slightly) adult humour and watching him get the joke, hearing his opinions on topics bigger than Minecraft…it’s pretty mindblowing.
  • The hugs.  They may be rare, but they mean that little bit more because I know there’s real emotion behind them.

Raising a teen – the bad

  • Seeing your child suffer and not being able to save them like you could when they were little.  I’m talking about bullying.  This has been a reality for my son for a large portion of high school so far, and I have felt pretty powerless to help him.  He doesn’t want me to get involved, and so I’ve done only what I could do from behind the scenes.  Ideally I’d like to set fire to the little shits who are doing this to him, but having been bullied myself I know that adult intervention is like a red rag to a bull. It hurts me every time the issue flares up, to see how it has impacted on his confidence and willingness to be sociable.  But I have to just guide him, reassure him, and make the school aware of things they can do to help him.
  • Worrying about how he’s going to cope with big issues – sex, smoking, alcohol, drugs.  We’re lucky just now as our teenager isn’t in with a crowd that hangs about, parties and tries to act older than they are.  But I know it’s only a matter of time before he is exposed, and although he’s fairly sensible I also know that on the surface that’s probably how I appeared at that age…and my decisions were anything but!
  • Think it hurts when your toddler tells you mid-tantrum that they don’t love you?  Try hearing something like that when your kid is old enough to understand the gravity of their words.  I’ve been lucky so far – I don’t think I’ve hit the milestone of being told I’m a bitch, but teenagers don’t always have a filter in the heat of the moment.

Raising a teen – the ugly

  • Still having to listen as he relays the fascinating intricate details of his latest Xbox game obsession.
  • Hearing the sound of my own voice, saying the same things on repeat.  You think it’s bad with a toddler?  Try chanting the following at least three times a day for the past five years – have you brushed your teeth, can you please sort your hair out, put your dirty laundry in the basket, for god sake can you please shut the door without slamming it, have you done your chores, have you done your homework, untie your shoes before you put them on.  I remain in constant hope that one day he will leave the house with all his responsibilities dealt with, looking presentable, without wrecking yet another pair of shoes and without slamming the door…all without me saying a word.
  • The bathroom after the three hour shower or midnight toilet trip…
  • Being demoted from fountain of knowledge to she-who-knows-nothing.  I realise that sometimes, when I talk a glaze comes over not just his eyes but his whole face. Our son has perfected the brick-wall look, where I know every word we say is just bouncing off without even being heard.  Apparently he  knows it all already.
  • Sometimes, the only sign he’s returned home is the dog sitting at the bottom of the stairs with an expectant wag of her tail.  Because apparently we don’t say “hi” anymore.


It’s not easy, parenting a teenager.  It’s a mindfuck, a stress and yet another one of those oh-so-wonderful learning curves of parenting. But it’s rewarding and hilarious and fascinating all at the same time.  No one gets it right, we all just stumble through, but the good points usually outweigh the bad and you can usually (eventually) laugh at the ugly points.  I’m excited what this second half of his teen years holds in store for my son, and for the rest of us!

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  1. Oh I can so relate to all of this and from what you say I’m guessing you have a 13 year old? I have 6 teenagers and I can safely say much of the bad and the ugly will become the good again by 15 and keep getting better. Then you become good friends and they break your heart by leaving home, but fear not leaving and becoming independent is ultimately what they must do and your relationship takes on another dimension again. #BigPinkLink
    Fiona recently posted…Trash 2 Treasure June 2017My Profile

  2. My son turned 13 last week…Oh the joy! I also have a daughter who is 6 going on 16…God help us when she does actually become a teenager! #postsfromtheheart

    1. Sometimes I wonder if this is my just desserts, as I was an awful teenager. But then I think it helps, because I understand him more. And there is a lot of fun parts too, so don’t be scared!

  3. Oh this made me smile! Having three teens I could sympathise with so much of this.I’m glad that I feel the good outweighs the bad and the ugly – well that’s what I tell myself on a daily basis – they are gorgeous really event though the worry, as you say, can be so so stressful at times!! #TweensTeensBeyond

  4. I read this with a broad smile upon my face – your son is a few months older than my daughter and I recognised several signs of the mess-up teens are! I love it too though, it’s invigorating. Can you remember that advert on TV that was trying to encourage folk to go into teaching and it’s was snapshots of all the great bits of teenagers!? Well thats what life is like now for us and I think it’s fab – most of the time. Oh, but the smells!!!!#tweenteensbeyond

    1. I have a friend who is a secondary school teacher, and I always say I couldn’t do her job. But she often points out that the good in most of her pupils is worth the bad/ugly in the small minority…and that even then, sometimes the most rewarding thing is to find out what is causing the behaviour and helping them through it. That’s how I try to approach the difficult parts of having a teen myself now…though I don’t think anything prepares you for the smell of their lair!
      Sadie recently posted…the workouts which have kept me fit in pregnancyMy Profile

  5. My 18 year old is still generous with his hugs and his apologies as he still leaves the shower looking like a sauna and still doesn’t hang up his towel ….the list goes on but where would we be without them? There is so much to love about the teenage years which is why I started my blog. They are overlooked and undervalued and they provide good fodder for a funny story. Welcome to our club and thanks for joining us. #TweensTeensBeyond

  6. This. Just this. All so true! My son is 15 too so there were many similarities. The chat about some game (yawn!), the hugs ARE special and the ugly truth about those toilet trips! haha. #Bloggerclubuk

  7. I can relate to so much of this post! I have an almost 15 year old – one minute she wants to spend time with me and the next I am the most boring person on the planet! Parenting teenagers is certainly challenging, but I do love it most of the time xx #BloggerClubUK

  8. I’m on my last teen and i agree with the bad, i’ve been called and told many things by my 4 sons, but the good news now is that all as adults, i’m always their first point of call with worries and important decisions they need an input with #tweenteensbeyond

    1. Aww, that’s what I hope for too. I can put up with attitude now as long as I get him back in the long run, and I’m pretty sure that will be the case as underneath it all I still see glimpses of my mummy’s boy!

  9. Firstly, I’m so sorry that your poor son has had a rough time with bullying. Sounds as though you have helped him through. I can flash forward 10 years with this post and I’m scared! 😉 Thanks for linking up with the #bigpinklink this week.

    1. The bullying has been the worst part of watching him grow up, I wouldn’t want that for any parent. But there is so much to love about the teen years, so don’t be scared!

  10. Absolutely brilliant summary. The most poignant part for me was the dispensing with polite greetings! Is it really too much effort to say ‘good morning’?! My experience of the latter teen years, so far, has been totally positive yet heart breaking because they leave home 🙁 Thanks so much for sharing with us at #TweensTeensBeyond

    1. I think we’re coming out of the fog and I’m looking forward to the older teen years. I’m not ready to think about him leaving for uni yet though!

  11. Great to have you here at #tweensteensbeyond for the first time and as well as reading this post, I’ve read some of your others. I think I am right in saying that you are also due to have your third quite soon? Wow! Teens and new bubbas. I have to say that having joined the second decade of parenting I am noticing similarities to new parenting – as in the learning starts over! I know nothing again! Your son sounds like a fab lad and was sorry to read of the horrible bullying – that really goes straight to a mothers heart doesn’t it. And then there comes the non verbal communication – the grunt, we are not quite there yet, but we do get the vague look that says ‘I am so not listening’. You’ll have lots in common here with our other linkers. Hope you enjoy having a look around.

    1. Thank you for such a lovely comment. Yes, baby number 3 is due any day now and is proof I never learn – we managed to time entry into the teen years with the terrible twos last time, and even that didn’t stop us planning another! Thank you for being so welcoming.

  12. My daughter is ten this year, so I can certainly relate to this, especially being demoted from the font of all knowledge. I too love how we are starting to have shared interests though. #PostsFromTheHeart

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