Whenever someone asks me the ages of kids, I tell them that my kids are 19, 17, 15, and 14 years old. A cringed look of pain and pity then passes over the face of that person. Then I reassure the person that having a bunch of teenagers is totally awesome!

Yes, we have drama from time to time. Yes, I make it a point to be at home whenever anyone has a boyfriend or a girlfriend visiting. Yes, the very sound of one of their voices can grate on the toughest of my nerves sometimes. Yes, being a constant taxi driver makes me insane. And, yes, it can be exhausting always keeping track of who is going where.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not micromanaging their every move. My kids have a lot of freedom, as long as they don’t violate my trust. So why in the world is having a teenager so fun? Though they are not in any particular order, here are 10 of my many reasons:

  1. Teens sleep in the most hilarious positions. If you think the positions they sleep in as babies are funny, wait until you catch your unaware teen contorted on the couch after staying up all night watching Anime or playing a video game (don’t worry, this usually only happens during the summer).
  2. They are housecleaning gurus. There comes a point when teens care what their friends think. I’ve never seen a teen so motivated to clean when friends, especially ones of the opposite sex, will be coming to hang out.
  3. Teenagers have the most awesome sense of humor. I remember when my kids were really little and one of the younger ones tried to tell me something funny (but it wasn’t)…but I pretended like I was listening and gave a courtesy laugh. The older child said to the younger child, “Mommy’s just pretending to listen when she acts like that”.  I made more of an effort to be genuinely engaged in toddler conversation after that. But NOW, hearing their jokes and stories are really entertaining! Plus, they think it’s funny when you act super sarcastic toward them – Teen: “Mom, can I get a ride to school?” Parent: ”NO WAY!”. (Just kidding, of course). Teenagers today have such a quick wit and pick up on the funniest unintended innuendos in life.
  4. Teens are passionate about things that matter. When I hear my kids and their friends talk about the world’s issues, they give me hope for our future. I love this perceptive new generation that wants renewable energy sources, hates wars, loves human rights and equality, challenges outdated gender role ideas, and cares for our planet and the animals. I hope they keep up the momentum.
  5. Sometimes they are smarter than us. I was a pretty good student and always thought I was a smart cookie…until my kids slowly began to pass me up in the academics department. Though this is painfully humbling and embarrassing, I’m secretly grateful that they are smarter than me.  I have a great life, but who doesn’t want their kids to have things better than they had it?
  6. We can play real board games and video games with them and we don’t have to let them win. When the kids were little, we were pretty much stuck with Candy Land, Trouble, Chutes and Ladders, and Go Fish. When the young ones would want to play a more grown up game, it was torture! Now, playing Apples to Apples, Monopoly, Battleship, Clue, Cranium, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, or Chess, while eating popcorn and drinking hot cocoa, is a blast!
  7. Teenagers are brutally honest. My kids now prevent me from making terrible fashion faux pas or from publicly humiliating myself, which I have been known to do frequently…they tell me when I’m being a giant dork and I thank them for that.
  8. Teenagers are more fun to embarrass than little kids. During elementary school drop-offs, our kids loved it when we would hug them and tell them we love them. If we dropped off their forgotten lunch box, they would beam with pride that mom or dad remembered their lunch and paid a quick visit to them at school. As our teens became older and were disgusted at our affectionate displays, though we knew this was a natural teen boundary, we became a little sad and felt rejected. One day, I rode along with my friend who needed to drop off her teenage boy at school. As he left the car, my friend jokingly rolled down the passenger window with the full intention of embarrassing her son, and yelled to him, “I love you! Make good choices!”…in front of everyone! He was totally embarrassed, but I could see a little smirk on his face because we all knew that even though she meant to embarrass him, she really meant it. Thank you, Cheryl, for opening my eyes to how fun embarrassing my teen can be. Now, whichever family members are riding along in our car join in the fun of yelling out how much we love the family member being dropped off!
  9. Teens HATE hypocrisy. Who needs a mirror when you have teenagers? Teens will be the first to tell us not to text and drive, that coffee and alcohol are bad for us, and that we need to stop eating so much junk food or we’ll get diabetes.
  10. Teenagers discover our music and share it with us. I love it when my kids show me a new song they discovered and it’s by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Journey, ACDC…the list goes on. I especially love it when my kids surprise me by belting out those goofy songs they find that we secretly loved in our youth, like ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ sung by  Bonnie Tyler, or ‘Tainted Love’ by Soft Cell.

You can probably tell by now that I really love having my teens and we have a lot of fun together. We’ve also had very serious challenges to overcome…these challenges should bring you closer together as you work through them. I’m no teen expert, but, as I travel down this scary road, my advice to parents of teens would be:

  • Talk to them and listen to them like adults
  • Don’t take everything so seriously
  • Don’t take everything they say personally
  • Take them out on parent-kid dates
  • Randomly check in and ask how they are doing
  • Let your teen experiment with their hair – let them express themselves
  • Don’t be overly critical about things that really don’t matter– their self-esteem is already so fragile, so build them up!
  • Don’t be afraid to let them know that you weren’t a perfect teen.  Open up a little so they can connect with you.
  • I’ve always told my kids that I am a parent first, then their friend…but they do need both. They need to know we’re on their team…we’ve got their backs.
  • Let them know that there are good and bad consequences to choices. If your hanging out with the wrong crowd, and they commit a crime while you’re with them (even if you did nothing), you can be considered an accomplice and held accountable by the law.
  • Teach your teens to follow their gut instincts when things don’t feel right…always offer a way out of a sticky situation. For example, if my kids are at a friend’s house where there is drinking or other activities that make them uncomfortable, they can text or call me with a code to come pick them; or I’ll give them an excuse to leave the party or vouch that my teen is suddenly ill and needs to leave.

My Sleeping Toddler Dinosaur

After Halloween Candy Overload

sleeping dino toddler
Credit: Holly Perez

Sleeping Teen Yoga Pose

He has no idea I snapped this photo...sorry, dude.

Teen Contortionist Sleeper
Credit: Holly Perez
Apples to Apples Party Box - The Game of Crazy Combinations (Family Edition) (Discontinued by manufacturer)
Amazon Price: $26.99 $16.75 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 26, 2016)
Our family favorite!!!