25 Truths About Parenting Teenagers I Learned From the Toddler Years

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Why do the teenage years seem so eerily familiar to the toddler years?

The toddler and teenage years are separated by a decade of time I refer to as the “sweet season,” which gives a bit of respite between the two most challenging age groups in parenting.

Maybe it’s nature’s way of letting us practice. Or just a cruel joke. But as adolescence casts its shadow of acne and attitude over your kids as they round the corner into puberty, there’s something eerily familiar about parenting teenagers that I remember from the toddler years.

  1. They assume the entire universe revolves around their existence.
  1. Everything is dramatic. Everything.
  1. They get extremely cranky when they’re hungry and tired.
  1. You notice that lots of their friends have poor verbal skills.
  1. They like to act like they’re 10 years older than their age.
  1. Boys have a certain grimy stink that reappears within 2 hours of bathing.
  1. Girls like to experiment with wearing makeup, dressing up, and flouncing around in public. They think they look beautiful. You think they look like street-walking drag queens.
  1. It’s impossible to get them to hurry.
  1. They’re prone to random emotional meltdowns which include foot-stomping, screaming and bursting into tears.
  1. Occasionally you wonder if they need professional evaluation by a psychologist. Or an exorcist.
  1. They crave boundaries, but can’t resist testing them.
  1. You constantly question your parenting skills and wonder if you’re screwing them up for life. Then you compare them to the neighbor kid who’s a train-wreck and feel a little bit better.
  1. They ask profound, thought-provoking questions that catch you off-guard with their depth. It’s actually mind-blowing.
  1. They’re overly-interested in their private parts.
  1. They have that one friend who just makes your skin crawl.
  1. Bedtime is a battle—they always want to stay up later than they should.
  1. They’re really into music, and can listen to their favorite song 100 times in a row. But they don’t appreciate it when parents try to sing along.
  1. They’re obsessive fans of someone cool and famous. (Peyton Manning, Taylor Swift, Elsa)
  1. Other people tell you how polite and charming they are and you can’t really wrap your head around it.
  1. They’re extremely opinionated, and there’s no way to rationalize with them. Sometimes it’s impossible not to lose your mind and yell at them.
  1. They’re a lot more observant than you think, and usually remember the things you were hoping they’d forget. (like every single one of your parenting fails.)
  1. Sometimes you sneak into their room while they’re sleeping because you just need to soak in their sweet, sleeping face and remember how much you love them.
  1. A lot of other parents seem to be irresponsibly permissive or ridiculously rigid, and it eventually affects your friendships with them.
  1. You keep looking forward to when they grow out of this phase, but then panic at the thought of them getting older.
  1. They won’t ever comprehend the depth of your love, fear, joy and pride your heart feels for them until they have kids of their own one day. (you’re just hoping that’s not around the corner too soon.)

by Kami Gilmour

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