Things I Hope I Never Have to Tell My Teenage Children

Being a Mom 21

I remember when I was a teenager and I believed my mother didn't understand a thing about me. It seemed like she was so much older than me (decades upon decades, at least), and I was forever frustrated by how we were such entirely different people. Her younger years were nothing like my own, I was convinced of it. She had no idea what I was going through.

Now, of course, I realize what a confused, angry, mixed-up, total pain in the ass I was back then. I also realize my mother was the same age when she had me as I was when I had my first child. I suppose it's possible that I'll reach a similar impasse with my own children someday, and if that happens, I hope it will help for them to know how utterly imperfect I was. How I will always remember what a difficult time it was to be a teen, and how—hopefully—they don't need to feel as though we are so very different.

To my teenage children:

If you feel lost and unhappy and hopeless, I felt that way too. The teen years are harder for some than others, and I had a particularly crappy time of it. I hated school, I hated myself, I hated everything. I wore black and dyed my hair so my exterior felt more like my interior; I got in trouble and generally acted out in a variety of unpleasant ways. I felt like a misfit, and I felt alone. I never realized how many other kids felt exactly as screwed-up and confused and out of place as I did.

If you feel like school is a waste of time, I felt that way too. If you end up hating school, I will be so incredibly sad. I will feel I have failed in something I want for you, very badly. But here is where I will not budge: we will figure out a way for you to get through it, no matter what it takes. I dropped out of high school in 10th grade, and the ensuing mess of getting a GED and taking remedial community college classes and eventually becoming an adult who can't identify with anyone else's high school experience (prom? WHAT prom?)—well, it's not worth it. Sometimes things suck, and you have to do them anyway. But never mistake my unwillingness to compromise your success for my inability to understand how it feels to want to quit.

If you feel like getting high, I felt that way too. I hope I have many years to figure out how we will deal with this if it ever becomes an issue, but one thing we will definitely talk about is how I went from a young person who loved to try everything to an adult person who had no control when it comes to consumption. Alcohol was my drug of choice, but it could just have easily been something else, and it damn near ruined my life. We'll talk about that, and I will be honest with you, and I hope you will listen.

If you feel like giving up, I felt that way too. I still have the scars on my arms and the memory of a tube down my throat. I cannot imagine what my mother must have felt like during that time, but I am certain that even though it happened 22 years ago, she still bears scars of her own. I don't know why I was so convinced I couldn't talk to her—that she wouldn't understand, that she couldn't help—but it is my greatest desire that you never feel the same way. From the moment you were born, I would do anything for you. That will never change. No matter how many years go by, that is one thing that will never, ever change.


Image via Linda Sharps

drugs & alcohol, health


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Mrs.C... Mrs.Crain

<3 this and can totally relate!

zandh... zandhmom2

First, THANK YOU for an article that has nothing to do with the baby birthing/feeding/raising war or anything to do with politics! I completely agree with this.  My childhood was rough and I barely made it through.  I've talked with my kids about the importance of school & college (which was NOT an option for me) about not doing drugs (so went down that path ~ haven't told them though). I never felt I could talk to my Mom about my feelings and suffered greatly for that.  I have always told my kids that they can talk to me about anything and so far they have. My goal is to be more open and available to my kids.

doubl... doubledsmommy

What a refreshingly honest post. There is no greater teacher than life experiences.

Andre... AndreaInOKC

Love this.  LInda you are amazing! 

Gypsy... GypsyMa76

I love you & this. It's so true <3

Samantha Darby

The last one gave me chills, Linda. I just love it.

jessi... jessicasmom1

nope I do not wish to tell my child these and more than many untrue for me. 

Evaly... EvalynCarnate

Linda is my favorite author on here. Im pregnant with my second and this made me sob. I-relate-to-this-completely...

nonmember avatar Mommaworries

I love this, Linda. I guess there's a reason for people to post just to tell you that they can't relate, but I can't see what it may be. Boredom? For me, you hit the nail on the head. For years I looked at who i was as a teen (and how I felt), and wondered if I even had the right to raise a child, be a mother for all the mistakes I made and ways I led myself astray. You prove that I was right in deciding to forgive myself, but not forget. I LOVE the way that you've expressed yourself here. If you can convey those thoughts and feelings to your children as you have to us, those are very fortunate children. Thumbs up! :)

Kelly Boyd

My mom's advice was very similar, but she was married and pregnant at 15....
My parents were VERY honest with us. I have never tried "drugs." I do drink.... I turned out pretty darn well. And my mom, she is a Lawyer with her own law practise.

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