Raising Kids Isn’t Easy, But Loving Them Is.

Seriously, parenting a teenager is hard.  Even on good days, for some reason, it just takes more mental energy to keep up with it.  You never know what curve ball is coming your way.  With Lizzie and Antwan, I am not surprised when I hear that the water balloon that they were filling up in the bathroom sink that I didn’t give them permission to do in the first place….exploded all over the bathroom floor. And I know how to handle it when Antwan is broken hearted because I am asking him to eat turkey instead of bologna. (We were out of bologna.)

But, teenagers. I don’t know when William is going to be on board with a project and I don’t know when he’s going to react to whatever I happen to say with an attitude.  (Although, he will swear that he doesn’t have one and get mad at me for suggesting that he does.) But, even with William, there are the days when he clings to his youth and plays silly games with Lizzie and Antwan.  And he’s always ready to watch whatever superhero show is on our DVR.

Then there’s Kaleb.  I never knew Kaleb when he was a silly kid whose biggest problem in the world was whether his mom had stocked up on the right type of lunch meat.  Of course, knowing his past, we know that was never his biggest problem.  But, you get the point. (If you don’t know his past, here’s the upshot.  His past sucked. He didn’t have a stable home until we adopted him.in 2013.) And I can’t look in his eyes and see our influences because it was other people who influenced him.  He hasn’t played silly games with Lizzie and Antwan since maybe the first summer.  And he would prefer to watch the superhero shows on his phone alone instead of with us.  (And then make sure to complain about how predictable they are or how much he doesn’t like the plot line.)

Sometimes, well, a lot of times, I feel like we are the Parkers and Kaleb.  I feel it when we walk into church and I know that Kaleb is home sleeping. I feel it when the kids and I are galavanting around town and he is with his friends or home playing the xbox.  Because that’s what he would prefer. I hate that.  But, long ago, I gave up on forcing family unity because it just doesn’t work.  William and Kaleb can not get along if left to their own devices and I just stay on edge waiting for it not to work out, waiting for him to take offense to something Brian or I said or something else to go wrong. 

I think in a lot of ways, that’s just normal.  Teenager life and all. So I mostly accept it.  I try to remember to take the moments when they come with Kaleb.  I try to validate what he says when he says it.  Even though, he tends to say it when he comes home from his friend’s house, just in time for bedtime and then wants to “run some things by me.”  I look forward to the day when they are all older and can bond on a deeper lever.  (I dread that day at the same time, though.  No getting older!)  And, I try to accept him for who he is. A complicated, challenging young man who is basically never going to tell me what I want to hear.  But, he is never going to be boring!  (You can decide if that’s a good thing or not, haha.) 

And he is going to keep giving me reasons to groan loudly because he has to keep arguing a point.  Like the other day when he said “I’m not letting this one go, Mom. Normally I just argue because I like arguing.  But, this time I know I’m right.  What was he arguing about, you ask? (Someone please ask!) I asked him to go to his room for bed (or to a friend’s) 30 minutes early on days when Brian is closing so I could have a little me time.  As a reward, he wouldn’t have to do chores that day. This was a great deal, if you ask me.  I explained that I really needed a little me time to decompress.  He agreed but explained that he doesn’t get alone time either so it was basically the same thing. I explained that he had endless opportunities for alone time.

I said, “You could go to bed right now and stay in your room for the rest of the night if you wanted to.”

He said, “Technically, so could you.” (It was 4:30 pm)

“No, I couldn’t!” I responded, incredulously.

Not long after, I groaned loudly and told him to go away.  Satisfied and convinced that he was right, he went off to hang out with friends.

I’m off track, I just really wanted to share that story. haha.

So, the point is, he will always be challenging. I will always wish that he had come to us sooner so we could have influenced him more. I will probably always doubt my various choices with him (but not my choice to score myself 30 minutes of Emily time because, man, do I need that!).  I will always worry about whether he is happy and whether he regrets agreeing to the adoption.

But, I will never worry about whether or not he loves me and whether or not he
knows I love him.

Recently, he texted me from school on a friend’s phone.  I’m fairly certain he was asking a favor involving me driving him somewhere.  I would say that’s why he said “I love you” at the end.  But, really, he usually does that, anyway. But, I took note of it, particularly since it was from a friend’s phone.  I debated whether I should say it back because I didn’t know if he still had access to the phone and I didn’t know if his friend would mess with him about it.  But, ultimately, I said “I love you, too” because I thought the risk of him noticing that I didn’t say it back was bigger than that other stuff. 

Later that night, he mentioned it.  He said his friend was surprised that I said it back because his mom doesn’t.  I find it unlikely that this other teen’s mom is refusing to tell her kid that she loves him so no judgement here.  But, I did like the fact that I had told my kid I loved him and, even better, he had told me first.

If it’s true that love makes the world go round, that all you need is love, and that love is thicker than water (that’s an Andy Gibb song, thanks google!); then we’re going to be ok. 🙂

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23 thoughts on “Raising Kids Isn’t Easy, But Loving Them Is.

  1. Raising teenagers here too and thank you I needed to read this – esp the argument story!! I pray we can have a lifelong relationship so I'm trying to let the little things go.


  2. Oh, I think that argument is so telling about his past, actually. Perhaps he really doesn't get that a parent (a responsible parent, a \”good\” parent) can't just abandon their responsibilities to the kids because they would rather do something else. \”Technically,\” you *could* walk out on all of them (literally or figuratively) at 4:30 in the afternoon if you wanted to. But you *wouldn't* because you know they need you. (You telling him you \”can't\” do that won't change his mind, of course, but maybe seeing you do it repeatedly will eventually help?)


  3. Oh, I am so with you on teens, let alone the issues with adoption. I would say that the most difficult moments of my life were my own teen years, and the later teens of my own children. It is killer hard. You are doing an amazing job.I think we all do what works for us. When my eldest was a teen and I dropped him off at school he hugged me and got out of the car. He was terribly teased for hugging me, and so for the next few weeks when he got out of the car we had a pretend fight, yelling at each other through the open door. He would say 'Well, don't think I'm coming home tonight' and I would yell 'You better be home at 4 and have supper on the table by 5.' It escalated as a joke until the day I yelled 'She better not be pregnant' and he laughed so hard he almost peed himself and the staff who had gathered to watch the show (realizing we were having the other students on as a joke) burst into applause!


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