Tuesday, October 11, 2011


"Parenting toddlers is a handful, but parenting teenagers is a heartful.

I heard this quote in a relief society lesson right when I was muddling my way through piles of poopy diapers, tantrums, and one of those let's-see-how-many-messes-I-can-make-in-one-day phases.  It seemed nearly impossible that any future aspect of parenting could be any more draining than those exhausting days, but despite my doubts, the quote has stuck with me through all these years. 

Now, several years later I find myself at the  beginning edge of my parenting teen years and I am starting to understand that quote firsthand!   My teenagers are good kids, but I'm finding this whole gaining independence phase of life as completely and totally exhausting...physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Somehow, any crazy antic they did as young children didn't seem nearly so important or life altering as the decisions they're facing now. 

I wonder every day which battles are worth fighting.  Some are easy, like shaggy hair, messy rooms, or wearing funky (but modest) clothes.    No problem (mostly).    But what about the things that might matter?  Things like texting a lot.   Or annoying their siblings constantly.  Or  being totally lazy about doing their chores.  Or other normal things that teenagers do, like spending more time with friends and less time at home.  Inside I know this is normal, but still I can't really breathe easily until everyone's safe at home every night.  And even when we all are,  it just seems that with all the electronic media,  that our home simply isn't  quite  the safe haven that it was when I was a kid.  We have strong filters on our internet, computers in public places, parental controls on our televisions, picture texting disabled on the cell phones, but I worry that despite our efforts,  that the garbage is still there....on their friends' facebook walls,  in their text messages.  And scariest of all to me,  what about when they're at their friends' houses?  We've discovered, that even in the church, most parents simply do not feel as strongly as we do about internet safety. 

Short of locking everyone away in a dark room without access to the outside, I feel like we're at the stage of parenting our teens that we just have to keep on keeping with scripture study, family home evenings, and keeping an open line of communication with them,  then just trust and pray that our efforts to teach and lead them over the course of their lives have been enough.  Enough for them to be able to shun the evil before them.  Enough to be able to recognize and seek after the peaceful feelings that the spirit brings.  Enough so that one day we will be able to say that,  "in due time we can report to our Heavenly Father in His celestial home that we are all there - father, mother, sister, brother. . . . Each chair is filled. We are all back home."     (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, page 493.)

That would be enough for me. 


Bon-Bon said...

Know that you are not alone in how you are feeling right now! Even when you get beyond the teen years and sort of heave a sigh of relief, young adult/adult children also cause parental worries. The good far outweighs the bad, but let me just say that as parents, we are only as happy as our saddest child. Guess that's part of parenting, an eternal calling. We willingly signed up for this, right?! Your family is awesome!

Mirien said...

Just had to let you know that I can relate with every word! I knew that having a large family would keep me busy, but I've been blown away lately by how much there is to keep track of and worry about. I think I had more confidence as a mother when they were small and I was in control. Parenting teenagers has made me question over and over if I'm "doing it right." It's always nice to hear that other moms have similar challenges and dilemmas. For what it's worth, I think you're doing great!

Jocelyn Christensen said...

It's good to read this post...it makes me want to try harder and be more vigilant...and to stress to them the things you mentioned at the end...choosing the best things...shunning evil, appreciating and seeking after the spirit. Thanks, Lara!

shannon said...

Suddenly feeling very anxious! One year to go until we are with teen, and already I'm seeing the signs. Whoever told me that it gets easier when I was struggling with my first infant was lying!