By: Rachel Ventura
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Rachel, and I worry. A lot. About everything. My Mom does, too. I’ve always said, “I’m a worrier. I get it from my Mom,” like it’s a genetic disorder I inherited from her. Maybe it is, who knows? I’ve worried for as long as I can remember, but it has surely gotten worse since having children.
One of the things I worry about often is my daughter becoming a teenager. I’m actually writing this blog post on my daughter’s birthday. Her 3rd birthday. I know, I know. I have years before I really need to worry about this, 10 actually, but it worries me because I’m a worrier. I get it from my Mom. ☺
My pre-teen years were not fun. I didn’t have many friends and I was teased, I was a late bloomer, and I just didn’t seem to fit in anywhere. Middle school was a miserable 3 years for me. Then I went to high school and became a teenager, and I was not a good teenager. I made bad decisions, stayed out past my curfew, was influenced by my friends, and lied to and was mean to my parents. Very, very mean. And for no reason! My parents and I are really close now and looking back at those teenage years makes me so sad! My Father will tell you that for 10 years, from the time I was 13 till I was 23, I basically never talked to him. Almost not a single word! And, I can remember having such a bad attitude towards my Mom (who is the sweetest woman you’ll ever meet). I was horrible. My Mom tells me that it really wasn’t as bad as I remember, but I think she’s only saying that because I now have a daughter and she feels bad…she and I both know how much my daughter is already like me! Oh geez.
Teenage years are rough- especially for girls. That’s why I am not as worried about my son becoming a teenager. Sure, they have their own set of problems that I know I’m going to have to deal with and worry about. But my daughter worries me because girls are, for the most part, mean. And easily influenced. And just want to fit in. Sometimes, a lot of the time, this can lead to bad things.
My daughter loves the Pinkalicious series by Victoria Kann. My heart seriously aches for the main character, Pinkalicious, while I read the story Purplicious. In the book, she is teased for liking the color pink and the girls at her school are just so mean!! Black is the new color and they won’t be her friend if she doesn’t like it as well. The story does have a happy ending, of course, as she finds a friend who likes the colors purple and pink, not just black like all the other girls. But it really got me thinking about the world we live in. I don’t know the exact age, but I believe Pinkalicious and her friends are meant to be around 6 years old. And they already have “in” colors and popular girls?! Another favorite in our house is Wreck it Ralph and I so want to cry for Vanellope when the other racers push her in the mud and ruin her car. Does all of this really start this young? Sadly, I believe it does. Unfortunately, maybe my worrying so early is not all for naught.
All these stories on the news about bullying truly breaks my heart. I sometimes wonder which would be worse, to have your child be bullied, or to be the bully? I really don’t think anyone wants their child to be either. All I know is, I want my daughter to be happy and a good person. My son, too, of course. With the terrible two’s and three’s we have been going through lately, this has actually become our mantra, happy and nice, happy and nice. I find myself saying this to my daughter repeatedly throughout the day. But just saying it doesn’t really do much. Figuring out how to make that happen is the tough part.
There are some really great teenagers out there, I know this, and it truly gives me hope! My niece and nephew are just a few. My sister has really lucked out with amazing kids who are now 14 and 16. They have a wonderful relationship with each other and the rest of the family that I can only hope continues, and maybe rubs off on my own children! At the Mommy Blogger get together dinner, one of my fellow bloggers brought her 17 year old daughter along with her. I know that when I was 17, I wasn’t caught anywhere with my parents unless I was absolutely forced to go. This young woman was happy to be spending time with her Mom. It was really so refreshing to see!
I’ve received a lot of advice from Mothers who have teenagers and the consensus seems to be:
- Communication and understanding.
- Be a Mom first, friend second.
- Know their friends.
These are really wonderful suggestions and I fully intend to follow them. But what worries me the most is that even if you do all these things, and are a “perfect” parent (even though this does not exist!), so many things can still go wrong! (In case you needed me to tell you, in addition to being a worrier, I’m also a bit of a pessimist) Kids (really, people in general) are influenced by so many things: the media, their peers, social media, and more. It seems like we are all doomed. My parents were, and are, great role models and as far as I can tell, made no major parenting mistakes while raising my siblings and me. Yet somehow I still ended up a juvenile delinquent, or at least a troublemaker, with a real bad attitude.
But all that being said, I am hopeful for my children and their generation. In addition to continuously repeating “happy and nice” all day long, here’s my plan for the years leading up to those dreaded teenage hormones.
- Provide unconditional love and a safe environment, while also letting them explore and be independent.
- Teach them good manners and right from wrong.
- LET THEM HAVE FUN!
- Show them everyone is different, no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes.
- Teach them to love and to give back whenever they can.
This is all I can do and I hope it’s enough. Until then, I will continue to worry, because that’s what I do. But I’ll also enjoy my children to the fullest- while they’re still talking to me!!