Shannon Philpott-Sanders

Writing, Reflecting, Teaching, Parenting

Navigating the Teen Years: Pressure, Patience and Prayer

Screen shot 2014-02-05 at 10.05.47 PMPublished January 2014: The Messenger – Faith: A Fresh Take

Navigating the Teen Years: Pressure, Patience and Prayer

I really thought my toughest years of parenting were when I had two in diapers at the same time. I was exhausted chasing two toddlers, but those smiles and kisses made it worthwhile.

My son and daughter thought I hung the moon and they didn’t seem to mind when I danced around the living room and sang silly songs.

I now have two teenagers. They get embarrassed when I sing in the car, they roll their eyes at my constant reminders to clean up their rooms and complete chores, and the slight mention of hugs and kisses from mom sends them sprinting. I was wrong. These are the toughest years of parenting.

Teenagers are just as challenging as toddlers but the primary struggle, I have found, is that they are exerting
their independence in much more profound ways. How as a parent can I encourage independence while also
trying to keep them safe in their surroundings?

Parenting teenagers takes patience and prayer. Their lives are filled with so many pressures — academic and
social. Their lives are blasted on social media; they have become consumed with electronics versus outdoor games; and they are desensitized by rated R movies, language and violence. Unfortunately, they have learned to live in a world where prayer is not the priority.

When they were toddlers, they were in my care, within eyesight. Now, they are navigating school halls that are filled with bullying, drugs, hurtful words, peer pressures and violence. The days of struggling with a “no” or “mine” have been replaced with “Can I have some privacy, mom?” and “Why don’t you trust me?”

As a parent of teenagers, I can’t walk them into their classrooms anymore, carefully surveying the room for
potential harm. Harm surrounds them, unfortunately, and I must wait patiently by the sidelines and pray that they are making smart, educated and ethical choices. I have to trust them and hope that I’ve provided them with the guidance and morals to push past the negative influences and embrace the positives. I have to pray for them to make good choices, especially when I’m not around, and pray for myself that I can be more patient while teaching them to drive, watching the eye rolls, waiting for them to arrive home from a night with friends and convincing them to attend Mass each weekend.

I have to be patient, I have to pray for them and I have to trust them as they explore their independence, just like I trusted them to take those first steps, stack those blocks and learn to cooperate with one another. I also have to trust and pray that they are listening to my anecdotes, my subtle tips and words of wisdom. I hold on to the belief that even though they try to tune me out with headphones, I’m getting through, even when they are embarrassed by my impromptu conversations with their friends in the car or the random dance breaks I still insist on in the living room.

Someday they will look back and realize that mom was kind of cool, right?

I may not get the bear hugs I used to when they were toddlers and I may be blind to the fact that they purposely avoid me by blaring loud music in their rooms, but I know that someday, when the teen years have passed, they will know that mom’s antics were genuine and well-intentioned.

It’s worth the time, the frustration and the worry as we all navigate through the teen years, especially when I overhear my daughter tell her friends “My mom is so weird, but I love her.”

That’s enough for me.

— Shannon Philpott

Read More Fresh Takes on Faith HERE

January 30, 2014 - Posted by | Newspaper Writing, Opinion, Sample Work | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Love this! I’m scared to death of the teens years, as I’m struggling through ages 6 & 8, and I mean struggling! Thank you for these words of wisdom!

    Comment by lori | February 6, 2014 | Reply

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