The ugly truth of parenting.

Are you a parent of teenagers? Do you tell others the truth about your teen or do you give a watered down version of life in your home? Are you struggling?teenagers

I remember before ever having children how sure I was what type of parent I was going to be. It was not overly disimilar to ‘little house on the prairie’, with a modern twist of course. Then I became a parent and my dreams fell apart. My babies cried much more than I could have ever imagined. Breast feeding was not as ‘natural’  as I believed it would be, even though I had imagined it might be difficult.  Then there were the many combined years of sleep deprivation. By the time my children begin school I did not recognise myself, compared to the parent I dreamed I might be.

Yet for all I struggled in those early days of parenting I knew all of what was happening was normal. Many many other mothers were on hand with advice. They were eager to listen and to acknowledge how very hard parenting young children can be. They smiled knowing smiles as we asked our questions, and we were constantly assured that this time would pass. How eagerly we looked forward to that day.

But it was all a lie.

They never told us there was more. That small children mean small problems. That parenting teenagers is a whole new skill and that our parenting never ends even when our children reach twenty one.

As the years have gone by and I have struggled with various issues around parenting teenagers I have always wondered why the silence?  Where are all the helpful mothers gone? Where is the advice, the camaraderie, the sharing of experiences?

No one wants to admit their fears to others. Only close friends are privy to what is really going on and even then not all of us share honestly. Who wants to share that their underage child came in drunk, that they worry about their children’s friends,or lack of friends, that their child’s behaviour is out of control, that their child has overwhelming anxiety, or has anger management issues, is failing at school, or working too hard, self harming, not eating or over eating?

These are normal everyday issues which effect every parent of older children at some time. Yet no one admits it. Because it is kept quiet parents struggle alone. There is no sharing of advice, and life can be exhausting.

Maybe in time this will change. Maybe social media will help parents of older children find their voices. Perhaps the cloak of silence will some day be lifted.lonely mother

Until that happens I wanted to let my voice be heard. Parenting is a job for life. Our children are growing up, spreading their wings and making their own decisions. Sadly at times they get things very wrong. All we can do is hang in there and do our best. It is okay to feel mad, to feel weary, to feel anger, and despair.

Remember you are not alone. It is easy to see parenting as that cute photo of a mother with her new born baby, no one wants to look at a photo of a mother with an angry drinking/smoking teenager. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

So today I just wanted to give a shout out to the many many parents who are silently parenting teenagers and older children of all ages. Those of you who are struggling with big children with big problems. I wish you well. Maybe someday you will find your voices and when you do you will understand you are a good parent.

Most of all I would wish you to know you are not alone.

photo credit: louisa_catlover via photopin cc
photo credit: eflon via photopin cc

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27 thoughts on “The ugly truth of parenting.

  1. I will forever be grateful for my Parents Anonymous Group. That was a place where parents could say scary things and not be judged by other parents. Some of the things that were said in my group were:

    I do not want to be a mother any longer.
    I hate this child.
    There is nothing good about this child.
    The child is stupid.
    I want to run away.
    I am pregnant. (Congratulations and hugs.) And I do not want this child.
    I look at this kid and see my ex – I hate him.

    Today I am going to attend our first reunion and many of us have not seen others in years. I hope I will hear different things today. 🙂 ❤

    1. As I wrote this today I thought about your group, and how helpful it would be to many people I know. Not just because many struggle with anger, hurt etc, but also because many parents feel out of their depth, unable to cope with the situations they are facing.
      Having access to others who have gone through it before would be so helpful.
      I am curious to know how your re union went. Do let me know.

      1. I thought about your post often… One mother who was married to an attorney was chatting before the meeting convened one day and disclosed that as she was watching her son sleep that she put a pillow over the boy’s face. The facilitators immediately took her to another room and filled out a report. The mother continued in our group for a while and got the help she needed. She had serious, untreated mental health issues and her busy husband had no clue. Your post was the first I had thought about her in a while.

        The reunion was like stepping back 15 years. There were 8 people in attendance and we all agreed that we must get together more often. My husband watched came to pick me up because I do not have a car yet and he was shocked how much the members thought of me. He and they met for the first time ever, only they knew much more about him and his antics over the years… We have the confidentiality agreement… 😀 Ethics can be a hard thing.

        I should tell you one day about the time I had a murdering mom in the car with me… I should write a book, but nobody would believe it.

  2. wonderful post, tric. very honest and thoughtful. i agree, more parents of teens, need to reach out and share their stories and fears and questions, and support each other. it would so help –

    1. It’s just finding the right place to share. It can be a lonely place for many parents and bewildering.
      I am always puzzled too by the lack of books on the topic compared to baby books.
      Maybe I’ll come to you Beth, you seem to have got through it well in the end.:)

  3. Parenting seems to be a hot topic lately, and for good reason. It’s hard! No parent is perfect and we make mistakes all the time. No child is perfect either. I’m blessed in the sense that my son has autism, which keeps him away from most issues of peer pressure. That is, with the exception of girls. Parenting a son during puberty is terrifying.

    I wish more people would speak up about their non-perfect household. That way more people would know that they are not alone. It would be nice if we could all get some help and insight from one another as we learn through our different experiences. It sure would be helpful. Diapering a child is one thing, not saying it’s easy, but raising a teen can be a challenge and half. Thank you for writing this very important post.

    1. Thanks for reading. I agree I too wish we got more insight into those imperfect, but normal households.
      Raising a child with Autism is also a difficult task, but I think one in which there has become more discussion thankfully.
      We all have so much to learn from each other.

  4. I think part of the problem is that as parents we stop sharing details of the behaviour of our teenagers to protect them both in school and for their future. I’m trying to stop right now and it’s very hard, because there’s times when I could really use some good advice. I don’t know what the answer is, but ‘parent’s anonymous’ sounds like one possible solution alright x

    1. Yes I do think it is a protection thing, a way of ensuring people don’t label our child as ‘bad’, or ‘trouble’. but I think it would be hugely helpful for parents to have somewhere they could go to tap into the vast amount of knowledge there is out there from past parents.
      I know I have learned so much over the past ten years and I have little doubt I will learn even more in the next ten, surely there are people out there who would greatly benefit from what I’ve learned to date.
      Parents anonymous sounds like a good idea.

  5. Tric, as ours get older I notice this silence too; but like mental health issues it seems to be a hidden truth. And as they get older and closer to independence, the fears and experience are greater; far worse than when they were small, and everyone is happy to pool advice and discuss it. The parenting Anonymous group sounds like a great idea. Good to get discussion going! Xx

    1. Thanks Emily. From the first time my eldest was a teenager and I wondered ‘What am I going to do about this?’ I have been intrigued and troubled at our lack of sharing experiences.
      I have a wealth of experience built up and am learning all the time, surely if asked someone would benefit, as well as being reassured that there is an answer of sorts.

  6. Oh my gosh, I feel like our blogs were partnered to a degree today. There is so much truth to this Tric. And for everyone having parenting ‘moments’ there is someone else out there who would understand.

    1. Wow isn’t that amazing that we both posted on a similar topic. I was feeling the pain of two friends of mine who were struggling without knowing they had similar problems. They had confided in me but I couldn’t break confidences. Yours is a lovely post from a parent.

  7. I would love a resource like parents anonymous Tric, and as I have it all ahead of me, I may be tapping into your experience and asking for advice 🙂

    1. It does sound like a great idea. Food for thought Naomi. As for advice, I do know I’ve experienced all kinds of everything so far, so happy to share if ever I was asked. But maybe you’ll have an easy time of it. 🙂

  8. I liked your entry. I have two grown children 23 and 32. Believe I feel like I am still raising them. The 23 year old has 2 kids of her own and still ask me for help aka money. I remember being that age and raising her brother 32 yr old. I didn’t go asking for money I learned to make do until the next pay day. Not these kids.

  9. Beautifully written and so strongly felt Tric. In so many ways we (society) are letting down out teenager children and failing to help them, and their parents, work out better ways to face tricky times. I think the lack of open discussion is surely a large part of that problem.
    Stay sane x

    1. Thanks Helen. I am frustrated because there are I have no doubt many who would get great comfort if only they could share without judgement, not to mention the host of good advice that is out there from others who have been there done that.
      Maybe in time, I really hope people will open up, even if it is anonymously.

  10. I wonder do people fall silent because their teenagers are ‘proper people’. Babies are so anonymous really – they can’t speak, tell you their thoughts, they don’t have their personalities yet. Just a thought, lovely post 🙂

    1. Thank you. Yes I can understand us going quiet on a blogging front, but I have found, among acquaintances and friends a quietness when things got rough. Thankfully I have a couple of very very close friends without which I don’t know what we’d have done at times, and vice verse.
      I suppose what I’m saying is if you run into big problems with big children there are very few places to go to seek advice, to vent or to hear ‘I had that problem too, and all is now well’.

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