Teen, tween, and toddler. Those are pretty scary words to a parent. Parenting is a challenge at any stage, but it seems like these stages come with an extra layer of difficulty.
You get pregnant and you imagine your baby will be a perfect little angel from birth through all of those stages. You know you’ll be a better parent, so your kid will be better than all the others you’ve seen.
You have your baby and you’re convinced: this baby is the cutest, most awesome baby that ever lived! You just know your baby will do great things!
Then that baby becomes a toddler. Suddenly, your precious perfect angel isn’t behaving the way your thought she would. Tantrums ensue and you’re convinced that your baby has become possessed by Satan himself. You know it isn’t your parenting, because you’ve got that locked down. After all, you read all the books and articles on how to be the best parent ever. You’ve watched every episode of Super Nanny just so you’d know what not to do.
Somehow, by the grace of God, you survive the toddler years. Preschool starts and your child is able to follow simple instructions without a complete meltdown. They aren’t the perfect angel you envisioned, but they don’t test your sanity on a daily basis. With each year, they get more independent and self-sufficient, which allows you to take a breather so you can handle those moments when they aren’t so well behaved without having a complete meltdown yourself.
Suddenly, your child thinks they know everything. They become so independent and self-sufficient that they don’t think they need your guidance or supervision. You have to slap yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming because you thought this was what happens when they become a teenager…your baby is only ten. Surely, we have skipped a stage.
Then the teenage years come. The mood swings, the attitude! Your child now knows that they know everything. Trying to convince them they don’t is like trying to walk on water. It’s impossible. They don’t want to come out of their room except to eat, and even then, they try to convince you that they should be allowed to eat in their room. Their entire life is consumed by the desire to do what they want with whom they want to do it with.
I haven’t made it past the teenager stage, so I can only hope that what comes next is a well-rounded adult who can take care of themselves, start a family and get the hell back that they gave me from their own child. That’s the dream anyway.
Having a child in any one of these difficult stages is challenging, to say the least. Now imagine you have one in every stage at the same time! That is my current situation. I have a toddler, a preschooler, a kindergartner, a tween, and a teen.
My current toddler has been the easiest of all 5. She still has her moments of fit pitching and being completely unreasonable, but not nearly as much as her brother and sisters had at her age. Thank you God. Thank you.
My preschooler is my most stubborn child by far, but she gets easier and easier to deal with as she gets older. Her meltdowns are getting shorter and fewer, but they still make me give into her much more than I have with anyone else. My philosophy on parenting is: Do whatever works! You should definitely not let your children walk all over you, but there are just some battles that aren’t worth fighting. I have certain rules and expectations that are non-negotiable, but there are plenty that I don’t strictly enforce, depending on the child. I expect much more out of my older kids than my younger ones, but there are certain things I let my 4 year old get away with that I don’t let anyone else get away with because I’d rather save my sanity.
My kindergartner is a bit of a drama queen, but she’s at that stage where she understands that there are consequences for her actions. When she gets upset, she makes sure everyone knows it, but it’s
always usually short-lived.
My tween is usually a very big help to me. She’s a fabulous big sister and usually wants to help me with anything I ask. She’s also in that “tween” stage, which means she can be very unreasonable, very moody, and thinks she knows better than her parents at times. She has definitely tried to grow up faster than my son. I have allowed her to do things I would have never thought I’d allow at her age, but because I know my child, I know that she wants to wear make-up, shave, “date,” and have a cell phone because she’s mimicking me. It’s actually natural and healthy for a child to want to do these things, and I’ve realized that as long as she’s not acting inappropriately for her age, there’s no real harm in allowing her to do them (with a lot of supervision). To her, having a boyfriend just means that she plays with her “boyfriend” on the playground at school and talks to him on the phone. I have read her texts, listened in on her phone calls and actively talk to her about their relationship. All of it has been very age appropriate and innocent. I know that it might not always be that way, but for now, I don’t have any fear that allowing her to shave, wear make-up, call a boy her “boyfriend” or have a cell phone means that she’ll end up pregnant at 16. I actually think it’s more often the kids whose parents refuse to talk to them about that kind of stuff and let them experiment with it age appropriately who are the ones that end up pregnant at 16. Here’s my philosophy: It’s my job as a parent to educate my children on how to be independent, not to try and control everything they do. Yes, it is also my job to keep them safe, so if I see them doing something that I feel has more risk than benefit, I will step in. I know that by letting them make as many decisions on their own as they can, I’m leaving the doors of communication and trust open so that I can “supervise” them without making them feel the need to hide things from me. If you think that you can control everything your child does, you’re wrong. They will find a way to do the things they really want to do, they just won’t let you know about it…and by the time you do, it’ll probably be too late. I want my kids to take my advice and heed my warnings. They won’t do that if they think I’m always being unreasonable. If I don’t have a good logical reason behind my rules, they’ll think I’m just being mean for no reason. I’m super honest with my kids. We talk about everything. That’s what builds trust. Does that mean I’m guaranteeing they won’t make mistakes? No, but I know that I’ve given them the tools to make the best choice. That’s the thing with choices. Just because you know something is wrong doesn’t mean you’ll choose to do what’s right. Like I said, it’s my job to educate, not to dictate.
My teenager hasn’t been a teenager very long, but so far, he’s not so bad. He can definitely get that know-it-all attitude from time-to-time, but for the most part, he listens to his mama like a good boy. He knows I am the true owner of all his prized possessions and I can take them away just as fast as I gave them. He’s definitely become more picky about what he likes, which I guess is just part of growing up and becoming your own person. I try not to harp on him too much, because he’s very responsible and self-driven. He’s in all advanced classes at school and still manages to make straight A’s despite never asking for help from me anymore. In his spare time he reads science articles and tries to learn foreign languages and HTML code (yeah, that doesn’t sound like my idea of fun either). He baby-sits the girls for me anytime I need it, and he actually takes it seriously (and he doesn’t even get paid for it!). He still treats Taylor like she’s scum of the earth, but as long as she keeps her distance, there’s peace. He’s never tried to hurt her, he just has no patience with her. I guess I can’t expect everyone to get along all the time. I didn’t like my sisters growing up, but we’re the best of friends today, so I know there’s hope!
Having a teen, tween, toddler, preschooler and kindergartner is exhausting at times, but there is good and bad with every stage. Sure my threenager can be a real pain, but she’s the most laid back of all my kids. Because she’s able to play so well on her own, I’m able to spend a good amount of time writing, making this blog possible. My 4 year old can have moments of stubbornness that I can’t seem to overcome, but she’s also the first one in my lap every night and tells me I’m “the best mommy ever” more than anyone else. My 5 year old wails like she’s dying over the most trivial things, but she’s the leader of the Littles, keeping them entertained and happy in a way that no one else can. She’s constantly telling me I’m beautiful and keeps me smiling with her incessant singing and dancing. My 9 year old can be moody and unreasonable in her requests, but she helps me take care of our family and our home, taking some of the burden off my shoulders. My teen might make me want to punch him in the throat sometimes with the smart ass things he says, but I know he’s got my back any time I need it. And even though he acts like he doesn’t want anything to do with the rest of us most of the time, he still wants to talk to me about what’s going on in his life and occasionally watch a TV show together. He may act like he doesn’t need me, but I can tell he still wants me around.
Like I said before, parenting is a challenge, at any stage. You have to figure out what works best for you and yours. What works for me might not work for you. The most important thing is that you don’t get bogged down with what other people think. Parenting is hard enough without all the shaming and judgement that goes on. I’m sure some people shudder when I post a pic of my kids in their underwear. If that bothers you, ask yourself, “What is the big deal?” So long as their privates are kept private, I see nothing wrong with them hanging out around the house in their undees. If I start bringing them to Walmart dressed like that, feel free to start worrying.
What has been the most difficult stage of parenting for you? Is there anything you do as a parent that you said you’d NEVER do?