Growing Pains

Parents of grown children always say that you’re supposed to enjoy the period when the kids are little, and that the teenage years are much harder. As all new parents, I thought my experience would somehow be different. I just knew my kids’ infant years were the hardest ever, and that I would do such a good job with raising my kids that the teenage years would be a breeze, because my offspring would be the best teens in the history of adolescence.

Eldest is a freshman in high school. He is smart and funny and kind; he’s the kindest person I know. But even if you have the world’s best teen, which I am pretty sure I have, those parents of grown children are still right. Why? Because, while your kid may be responsible, with a good head on their shoulders, not prone to imprudent activities that lead to physical danger, and channeling their energy into productive outlets, you as a parent cannot (and should not) protect them from coming-of-age pains.

When kids are little, there’s Tylenol and bandaid and kisses for small cuts and scraped knees. But there’s no pill or patch for disappointment or rejection. You give them space and offer support, try to be there when they need you. Intellectually, you know that’s all part of growing up, but it is very hard to watch your kid in pain and be unable to make it go away.


  1. *patpatpat*

    My mom was always pretty pragmatic about teenage upsets. Chocolate and you poor dear, but these things happen (with romantic upsets), and next time you’ll have to try harder or you can find something else to do (with academic/etc. upsets… I never cared much about sports). She also used the phrase “character-building” so much it became a joke, as I asserted that my character was buff enough already, thank you very much. (Most of people being mean happened in grade school and middle school… high school was a lot better.) It’s good to get used to the occasional failure because there’s so much of it, you know? And if there isn’t any failure, it’s likely there’s also a lack of growth and stretching.

    You know deep down everything is going to turn out ok, so these upsets are only temporary for him.

    It’s a good sign that he’s confiding in you!

  2. Yesyesyes. Part of it is just not having very much in the ol’ experience bank yet. Lots of big deposits made during these years.

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