It should have been simple: grocery shopping, carpool pickup, home. The shopping went quickly and I pulled in the checkout line with 15 minutes to spare before I had to pick up the dreaded junior high carpool.
Unluckily, I stood in line behind a woman who had a coupon for every item, demanded a price check on several items and even made the checker rebag half her order. I checked the time anxiously, debating if I should simply abandon all my groceries on the conveyor belt and race up to the junior high. I called my teenage son at home and he assured me he’d leave right this minute and pick up the carpool.
Yep, he forgot.
When I pulled into the driveway 15 minutes later and found that ONCE AGAIN I had failed carpool duty, I lost it. I yelled, I threw the keys, I slammed doors.
And then I felt awful.
Every day I told my kids, “Be calm. Keep your temper. It’s not worth getting upset about.” and then I lost my cool over a silly junior high carpool.
It’s hard to be the parent of a teen.
You want to be a great example, you want to be loving and kind and patient, but most parents have teens during some of the most challenging years of their life.
You’re getting older, you’re dealing with health problems, financial issues, problems at work, multiple responsibilities, your parents need more help and teenagers are challenging (and forgetful).
Maybe you’ve heard of the U Curve of Happiness? It’s a phenomenon documented by researchers all over the world revealing decreased happiness for adults in their 40s and 50s. It’s not our teens fault, the U Curve is true for people with and without children. But it just happens to fall during the years that many of us are parenting teenagers.
I’m not bringing up this U Curve to be depressing. It’s just a heads-up that if you’re the parent of a teen you should give yourself a break, examine the stressors in your life and take better care of yourself.
These days, I’ve stopped freaking out over missed carpools (the kids just walked home and nobody cared) and I’ve been coaching parents on how to communicate with their teens and have more joy in their home. When I’m coaching parents, I hear over and over, “I want to be a great parent, but I need to feel better first.”
We all want to feel vibrant and alive and have the energy to enjoy life with our family. We want to teach our kids to love who they are, to contribute to society, to gain strength, knowledge, and go out and do good in the world.
Not one us wants to set a bad example for our kids. No one sets out to be a hypocrite by telling our kids one thing and doing another.
But we’re tired. And parents often feel frustrated and overwhelmed. Most parents I know need a little TLC. The solution isn’t to beat ourselves up over our failings, rather we need to take better care of ourselves so we can take better care of the people we love. The following are not simply nice suggestions, these are scientifically proven ways to increase your happiness. Of course, you could do the traditional midlife crisis and go out and buy a nice sports car (and if you can, you should!), but these cost nothing and have longer lasting effects.
Yes, midlife offers multiple stressors. Yes, parenting teens can be extraordinarily challenging. But taking time to care for yourself will help you not only survive, but thrive during these years. These simple habits can help you become the best version of yourself, set an exceptional example for your teens and turn that U Curve upside down.
Also, I advise self-checkout as a stress reducer. Or better yet, grocery pick-up.
I have so much faith in you. I have so much faith in your teens. You’ve got this.