Advice about Parenting Teenagers

Parent Q&A

Parenting Modern Teens Feb 28, 2021 (0 responses below)
Tell me this is normal? Jan 27, 2021 (10 responses below)
16yo son’s habits are driving me crazy! Aug 10, 2020 (15 responses below)
Support With Hard Teen Girl Feb 27, 2020 (4 responses below)
  • Parenting Modern Teens

    (0 replies)

    Hi, does anyone have experience with the "Parenting Modern Teens"?  I found them on Yelp:  Parenting Modern Teens and the reviews there are too good to be true, but I am hoping they are the real thing.  Sounds like there are least two "life coaches" there, Sean Donahue and Sean Potts, and there's a few references to church and religion. It's weird that there's not a single mention of them on the Berkeley Parent Network.  Please share your experience with them if you have any.  

  • Tell me this is normal?

    (10 replies)

    It is normal - right? -  to hear your 16 year old girl say things like “everyone else is best friends with their mom” when complaining that she can’t stand to be around her parents during the pandemic. You’re not really all best friends with your teen girls? She is an only child and says she has spent 16 years waiting to get away from us. That one I *do* know is an exaggeration because pre-pandemic she was a pretty happy, social, and engaged kid. 

    I am trying to tell myself that were we not in a pandemic, this is exactly when she would have been separating from us and seeing everything we do as wrong. And it just so happens that because of the pandemic she is isolated with very little positive in her life — so it makes her skin crawl to be around us at this point. I see intellectually that if it weren’t for the pandemic we would probably still be struggling but it might have been balanced with positive peer interactions that make us not seem so bad.

    Others have gone through this - right? - and eventually regained a relationship with their young adult kids?

    RE: Tell me this is normal? ()

    Sorry you are going through this. My son just turned 20 years old and we haven't been best friends ever since he turned 16. He's extremely immature, so I am hoping that he'll become his old sweet self by the time he's 25 or 30, but I am not holding my breath. Your daughter sounds like she's looking for ways to hurt you. It's emotional blackmail that girls excel at. My 8 year old says hurtful things like that when she's particularly angry and I call that out when it happens. My son hasn't done much of that until recently, since it's a more sophisticated way to be mean, but now he does that too.  I've learned to recognize it as attempts to make me feel bad, but it's still hard not to care.

    Oh, and we are parents to our kids, not friends of any kind, let alone bffs. We provide for them, keep them safe, and of course love them, but we should also expect them to contribute back to the family and respect us. If you want to have a daily family dinner, it's your right as a parent to have her be there, help make it, set the table and be civilized with the phone off during it.  If they love us and enjoy being with us, that's an icing on the cake, but not the requirement. Yeah, pandemic sucks. And yet, she's got shelter, food, clothing, education and the spoils of modern society thanks to you working your butt off, which isn't easy during the pandemic either. How about her?  Is she a joy to be around? Has she ever considered how it is for you as parents to be around her? 

    Anyway, she sounds like a typical entitled teen.  I come from a 3rd world country, and kids never had those kinds of argument with their parents.  Life was too hard and scary to be bothered with existential questions like this. One was grateful to have a home and food, and people who cared about them. Here in the US, kids remain kids till their 30s because we shelter them too much. Don't know about your daughter, but my son never had to cook for himself, I still do his laundry, and he almost never does his only chore which is to throw away the garbage.  Maybe it's not too late for your daughter to become a full fledged member of the family, the kind that doesn't just keeps taking and then complains that you guys aren't fun to be around, but the kind that's considerate and cares about you and contributes. 

    RE: Tell me this is normal? ()

    I am also the mom of a single child, a boy, 15. While he does complain and exaggerate, he doesn’t hate us and also isn’t best friends with us. I am certain that he doesn’t feel he can’t wait to leave us etc.  Personally, I’d listen to what she’s telling you and I’d take it seriously. The pandemic is probably amplifying her feelings, but this does sound a bit like depression. And if you love her, do you really want her to feel not close to you, and like she can’t wait to leave? I have a dear friend with a very challenging 16 year old (only child) daughter, who will readily say she loves her parents and isn’t itching to leave - even tho they for sure drive her crazy too. Again, probably not “best friends” but not in this kind of pain either. If my child ever says these things, I’ll ask WHY and listen quietly and very carefully, and probably get a family therapist. 

    RE: Tell me this is normal? ()

    Absolutely frickin normal. When I went through this painful process with my daughter I was told the startling truth that the fact that we used to be close the harder she had to push me away and claim her independence. (She started to push away when she was 12!) I remember the fact I was breathing was annoying to her! I mourned the loss of my daughter but trusted (as best I could) in the knowledge that she would come back to me one day. She went off to college and gained the independence she needed. We are very close now.

  • 16yo son’s habits are driving me crazy!

    (15 replies)

    I could use some practical advice to influence my son’s increasingly unproductive habits. Since SIP, he sleeps/ wakes up later and later. And when he is awake he is sooooooo lazzzzyyyyyyy!  He’s 16 and strong-willed, so forcing him to get up and be productive is a recipe for disaster. Can I do it? Yes, and I have. Took his phone (I still take it overnight), gave him extra chores to “drive” productivity, etc. But it was miserable all the time and our relationship was breaking down — hasn’t actually fully recovered from that period of ongoing conflict and anger. 

    A typical day:

    - He wakes up at 1 or 2 pm. I laugh at the days I was so dismayed that he would sleep till noon! 
    - Attends whatever he’s forced to wake up for — we have him set up for enrichment and volunteer stuff that he selected. An hour and a half MAX. If the appointment starts earlier he’ll most certainly go back to bed. 
    - Eats, gets on his phone — usually in a supine position — for a few HOURS, and sometimes actually goes back to bed to “rest” (from what????!!!!!!!!!)

    - Practices basketball for an hour and a half between ~6-8

    - Eats dinner 

    - More screen coma

    - I take his phone at midnight. No screens in his room overnight. That’s our rule since forever. On the rare occasion I forget to take it he can stay up til 4 AM 
    - He still stays up until at least 2 AM, which of course guarantees he won’t wake up till 1 or 2 pm the next day: showering, applying his face routine (he’s obsessed with managing his acne), sometimes does exercises which of course keeps him revved up — essentially doing all the things he should be doing during the day. 
    - Sleeps for 12 hours. 12 HOURS!!!

    I am acutely aware that his habits might trigger me more than most because I am a classic Type A. However, this routine can’t be a good thing right? I feel like he’s living half a life and it kills me to watch. I’ve asked if he’s depressed and he’s made it quite clear that the ONLY thing that makes him feel bad is when I judge his choice to exist like this. We’ve discussed all the different opportunities that open up through the simple act of being awake when the rest of the world is active. It’s exhausting and frankly just disappointing to watch him waste his youth and energy. More than anything I’m very worried that these habits might take root in such a way that influences his lifestyle in the long term. Such a lethargic way of existing rarely leads to contentment, right?

    I don't have any supportive tips or advice. But I did want to say you are not alone; I am similarly situated. And it's excruciating to be in the parenting role with this type of thing - every direct engagement with my son is combative but disengaging feels complicit. I am working with a therapist who's got child development expertise. This helps me stay grounded (some days at least). Hang in there.

    That would drive me crazy too. I wish I had magical advice. I have 16 year old too. This is what we do for her. We made a habit chart because we both agreed that me nagging was not good for either of us. She decided what should go on the chart with some prompting from me: Move your body (this can be a walk or indoor exercise), unplug, do something for the house (this can be a chore or cooking), go outside, complete your habit chart, socialize with someone (this can be a text or playing an online game). I gave her complete autonomy and authority over what counts as what. She has not been completing the chart lately--so I'll say "your habit chart needs some love." But, what I mean is filling the chart out, not doing the stuff that is on it. I have asked her to think back and she has figured out that she does feel better when she does more things on her chart. My son doesn't need a chart, but has done better about having routines during his day. I think the key is to get buy in from your kid, which I'm not sure is going to be easy with your son. The other key, I think is to take baby steps and have him have a huge say in what goes on the chart. One thing we learned was about the "do something for the house" -- nothing ever got done. I put a list on the fridge of possible chores that would only take 15 minutes each. Still nothing. So, I was asked to provide a list in the AM of what should be done that day. Then it got done! So, a buy in to the importance of not just sitting around all day, collaboration on what should go on the chart, acceptance that very small, small, insignificant efforts constitute a win and a check-off on the chart, and editing as you go to suit your family? We also agreed that weekends were weekends and sloth was acceptable. Made that deal to get more of a buy in for weekdays. . . Good luck! 

    Was your son like this before SIP? If so, I would suggest he IS depressed and/or has a problem with executive functioning. One of the best things you could do for him in this situation (and I speak from experience) is to set a daytime screen (phone/pad/gaming system) limit of 2-3 hours with a cut-off time of 9pm.  He will hate you for a few weeks and then will begin to wake up from the coma and have a chance, at least, to re-engage with life.

    If he was a much more productive, energetic, happy teenager before SIP then maybe this is just his way of coping with the pandemic and after it's over he will return fairly easily to his former self. That doesn't make his present behavior any less frustrating (I feel your pain as I too am a type A) but it might at least allow you to be less worried about him.

    Best of luck to you. 

  • Support With Hard Teen Girl

    (4 replies)

    Hi parents, 

    I have been parenting my niece since she was 13, and she is now 16. We are having a very hard time managing her behavior. She tends to be completely silent/reclusive/secretive- and her phone is literally part of her body. We do have some times of day she is not supposed to use the phone, and she mostly adheres to them, though she isn't super jazzed about not having it. At times we will do wonderful things with her (take her somewhere she wanted to go, get her a special trip, etc., and she will be OK for part of it, but then become completely unhappy during part of it, which is really hard to take for us!). She is really good at some subjects in school and really bad at others, and doesn't care much about the places where she gets poor grades.

    We have gotten some support but are now looking for something professional to help us parent her better.  We've all been in and out of therapy but are really looking now for concrete support about what to do, and how to parent her. She has a great therapist that is working directly with her, so we're really looking for something for us.

    Looking for recommendations for parent coaches, classes on parenting teens, and other support that is specific to the teenage years. For reference, we also have younger children (under 6) but this is very different than what we deal with with the little ones. 

    Ideas? Thoughts? Recs? 

    RE: Support With Hard Teen Girl ()

    You are clearly a good person to be raising your niece, and loving to stick with her through difficult behavior. I admire you for reaching out for further support.

    I wish I would have learned about The Parent Project (https://parentproject.com) when my teen was younger. I've recently heard from people who have had a good experience with it. You might look into it.

    I have a difficult now 19-y-o. My spouse and I tried many approaches to addressing his challenging behavior which began around age 9. Our efforts were mostly focused on individual and (limited) family therapy, educational assessments and 504 Plans, as well a brief medication trial to treat ADHD. My spouse would not engage meaningfully in the family therapy, nor participate in parenting support groups/classes/programs, nor work with me to establish and enforce boundaries for appropriate behavior in our home. I won't go into details here other than to say this: our situation remains challenging as we have split our family into two households so that I can raise my second (younger) child in a safe and healthy environment.

    My heart goes out to you, you are not alone in raising a difficult teen. Do something to care for yourself every day and continue to look for support wherever you can find it.

    RE: Support With Hard Teen Girl ()

    The following approach has been a lifesaver for us in our own parenting journey: Parenting with IFS (Internal Family Systems) by Frank Anderson.  https://catalog.psychotherapynetworker.org/item/53685/#outline

    Amazing tool for disentanglement from ineffective patterns of reactivity. Worth 100 trips to the therapist!

    HTH

    RE: Support With Hard Teen Girl ()

    This sounds really hard and I’m so glad you are looking for help! I strongly STRONGLY recommend Sheri Glucoft-Wong in Berkeley. We were foundering with our blended family/new sibling/step-dad-complicates family, especially with how to handle my extremely challenging teen through all of the transitions and Sheri helped me and my husband identify our limitations/challenges and learn some concrete skills (including ways to be on the same team as our teen, to have more compassion). 
    Even just a one session consult with her would be helpful. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions

 


Feeling resentful about teen's academic & social failures

May 2013

Are there any support groups, and, if not, any therapists interested in starting one, for families of underachieving, acting out teens? My daughter just can't get her act together academically and socially despite my trying a myriad of approaches for years. Starting in elementary school and now while in high school: social skills groups, classes/lessons to support her musical talents, tutoring/mentoring, meeting and communicating regularly with her teachers in school, finally starting medication for ADHD a few months ago, offering therapy, etc.

I am on an emotional roller coaster-feeling good when it looks like she's turned the corner and is managing things better, then feeling quite down when she lets her grade slip from an A to a D and she says she has to time to bring it back up. (BTW, there is no pressure to get As, Bs and Cs are great.) It's at the point where I feel like I am making most of the effort and very little is coming from her. At times I feel like I'm being had and feel incredibly let down and resentful. It's hard to feel loving and be generous when there is so little effort on her part. She feels my disappointment is not justified, minimizes where she has fallen short of her responsibilities, and often has a rather skewed perception of reality.

I know there are support groups for families with kids in programs, but what about families on the cusp? Not severe enough issues for a residential program, yet unrelenting academic and social issues. Anything? Another reason a support group appeals is because it's hard hearing about my friend's kids' successes as well as seeing other difficult kids get their act together, while my child continues to struggle.

Responses that include recommendations, shared experiences, what you've found helpful, etc., will all be appreciated. Thanks. Nearly tapped out mom


I agree, there is little to nothing out there for parents and teens ''on the cusp.'' It is a tough place and we have navigated it for 19 years. I too wish there was something. But i can offer this: Our college son has ADHD and a touch of dyslexia ( mitigated quite a bit with tons of work in elem. school) and while it is never smooth sailing, it is getting better. There were many times that we were tapped out, end of rope, etc. He pulled some doozies. But know you are not alone by a long shot. Stay the course. You are in fact almost at the good part. & I can share that my guy is now a soph. in college and is doing OK. He is so proud to be at CU Boulder, a big state university, his top choice. He does get some accomodations, like extra time, non-distracting testing environment. ( We applied for these ourselves, a bit of work but no too bad, schools seem pretty used to this). So far has to drop at least one class each semester for various reasons. He has to put a lot of time in to get a B average, but is starting to see the benefits. Freshman year was touch and go grade wise and otherwise.Textbook last minute, play now work later ADHD. It continues to be infuriating, in a lot of areas, but we are now at age 19 1/2 seeing growth. He has had a few nice solid relationships and has had a job after school in HS & every Summer for 4 years and even works a little at college. We also see other kids he knows dropping out, coming home, etc. So we feel lucky and a bit wary. It was not any one thing that he, or we did. But I guess we just kept at it. We are hard core against all substance abuse & continue to be a pain in the butt, much to his dismay. We supported his areas of strength like skiing and art( he is a design major). He is growing up, taking pride in his accomplishments. I'll bet your daughter will too. Hang in there. Vicki


Kaiser Richmond has a social skills group called the Young Teen Group. It is an eight week program. It ended a few weeks ago but will begin again when more people sign up. Some topics include: making friends, dealing with bullying and communication. Sherri


Teens are unhappy, critical of my parenting

March 2013

My family is divided. They don't seem happy and I don't know if they ever will be. I have two kids, 17 & 20. They are not speaking to each other. They are both critical of each other & both equally critical of my parenting. It's a stretch of time almost devoid of joy. They have two loving, doting, hardworking parents, albeit seperated. They have been educated, fed, clothed, entertained, protected, understood and adored their entire lives. Though no kid remembers their childhood, I do remember always being an advocate and solid support through all the many stages of their development; sports teams, field trips, summer camp, parent volunteer, vacations to beautiful places - you name it. Now there is no way to recognize the enormous amount of effort we put in to their security and happiness. I want to mend my family. Does it get easier/better naturally? We would consider family counseling, and have been each to see our own therapists in the past, but presently our insurance is limited, as is our income. We have great doctors, supportive friends & family. Parenting babies, toddlers, kids and preteens was a breeze compared to parenting these age children. A happy future is hard to see. Wants to be Happy!


Happiness, is an important emotional state, but generally even if people are happy with their lives, they usually are not happy all the time.

My advice is it sounds like your family has ''squabbling, communication'' issues, not so much ''divided''. You have to be together at some level just to argue or criticize.

I am not minimizing how unpleasant this is as a way of life, or your needs, as we grow older I seem to think finding balance, internal and external is even more pressing.

Fact : not all siblings are buddies. Some siblings really never get along.

My suggestion: Accept your children for who they are right now. Look to yourself, and find your own happiness, model happiness in your behavior, speech, and life at all times. Have no expectations whether they will express any appreciation for your efforts, since it is possible they will get worse before they get better.

Look at your budget and see if you can cut something out you do not need: vacations, movies, new clothes, coffee out, food out. Unless you are already at ''bare bones'' the money may be there to pay for counseling for the kids, just the sacrifices may require you to give up some of the things that give you relief from their attitudes and bickering.

Some kids fight as children and become closer as adults. Some siblings never ever talk to each other when given the option. If they are doing things that are physically threatening to each other or you then you are obligated to seek professional interventions until they leave your residence and reach legal age.

Raising kids is a really hard job. Hats off to you for asking for support. Keep looking. The Bay Area has many options. The hardest thing will be figuring out what you can do, what your limits are, and what they need to do on their own.

Conflict resolution courses, self help strategies may be a good way to start. You do not have to be perfect at it, just make progress. Good luck another mom


I wish I had an answer for you but in fact I am in a very similar boat although I am divorced and a single parent. I hope someone has some answers!! You are not alone. where did I go wrong?


To the parent with the 17 and 20 year olds missing happiness-- I know exactly where you've been and it is horrible, sad and hard. What your children are doing right now isn't your fault. When my son started acting out after his father and I split up (my son had a childhood similar to the one you describe for your children), I wanted to take responsibility for what he said and did rather than expecting him to take responsibility for his actions that were hurtful, bad for our family and bad for him. If I could go back in time and speak to my broken-hearted self who missed that loving sweet boy that I had known and nurtured his whole life, I would say- you get to set some boundaries around behavior even when they're all grown up. You get to say the way your sons are acting toward each other or you is not okay- You expect more from them than that. I think the hope for happiness comes after you insist on respect. In our case, my son is now 23, I finally took my own advice, and we are happier now. Been there, done that in Berkeley


Dealing with the stress of living with a teenager

July 2007

My daughter is chronologically a pre-teen (almost 12), but biologically and hormonally pubescent. I'm a single mom by choice so there's no other parent on alternate weekends, let alone at home. I am already finding dealing with the mood swings and absent-mindedness extremely stressful, and I know I am not handling it well. Nearly everything I have to say to my daughter is a correction or criticism and I'm on the verge of tears frequently. That's obviously not good for her or for our relationship. On the other hand, if I had a roommate like my daughter, I'd move. Can anyone recommend particularly helpful books to help me get through the next 6-plus years? Better still, are there any support groups? L.


Oh I feel your pain!! My daughter is 16!! I'm single also, but get breaks. Breaks are good. Better than books even! I can't recommend a book or a group, but I get through it in several ways: I talk with friends who have the same age children and commisserate (it helps), I go to therapy for myself periodically, we have gone to therapy together too (art therapy was great!!), and I try and take lots of deep breaths without hyperventilating! She will be like this for a while. Patience is a big factor as is being semi-detached about certain things for getting along with your teenager. Reminding yourself of this all the time is good too! When you talk with her, sometimes you have to be an ear only. She will talk to you more about what's going on with her as the years roll on if she knows that you are not going to judge her or criticize her after she's said her piece. You are balancing on a tightrope now

You have to be her friend, her mother, her jailer, and her escape partner! What I mean by that is sometimes you will need to rein her in to make sure she's safe and healthy, and other times you will have to be the one she can escape her crazy teen-age life with by going on a fun adventure together. You will have to be there when she's a mess and crying and doesn't know what to do because she's had a fight with a friend, and you will have to figure out the right thing to say to help her keep going. You also have a take a lot of gruff!! (That's the not-nice part. That's when detachment can come in handy.) I swear this period has been the HARDEST part of raising a child, for me at least!

But I try to keep an open mind, and change when the situation calls for it. I apologize when I've not done something the best way I could've and next time do it again differently. I look at this as a growth period for myself too. I don't think of myself as ''finished'', life has much more to offer and for me to learn from, even my daughter! Try to eat well, and get excercise. Don't let the stress build up. Teenagers are very sensitive and can feel all of our stuff too.

Make some basic rules for the house, start slow and repeat yourself like a broken record for the next 6 years! Sometimes I have to laugh at the whole thing too!! My daughter had it hard from 12-15 and now she seems to be have a better sense of herself. We get along great for the most part. I totally admire her. She's smart, sensitive, beautiful, and funny. She's also a slob, she walks as fast as a snail, is late, and talks back to me sometimes. But hey, we're not perfect, ever! living breathing mom of a living breathing 16-y.o. daughter!


Good for you for reaching out for support. I think it is the key to making it through. My daughter went into the teenage dark side at 12, emerged again when she was 14, and now, at 16, is a pleasure. If you had talked to me when she was 13, and told me that I would say that 3 years later, I would have laughed bitterly and never believed you. Now my son, at 14, is starting to descend, and I'm bracing myself. But have faith, they do come back. It was actually your roomate analogy that prompted me to respond. I used to say that all the time. I think one thing that helped me immmensely was having close friends to whom I could really vent. No need to hedge with ''of course I love her, but...'' They knew I loved her, and were fine with me letting out the rage I frequently felt and calling her a bitch (which is exactly how she was behaving...) When the kids were toddlers, we could all bond in the park over tantrums and picky eating. But with teens, parents seem to be not so close anymore, or afraid to really talk about what is happening in their families. So build your own support group if you can't find one.

Another thing that helped was learning to bite my tongue, intensely. It got so that we would have car drives with no words spoken fairly often. It was better than some innoccuous comment from me setting her off in some mean or negative direction. Music is good -- you are listening to it together. Actually, cultivate any activities you can do together that do not require talking. When she is ready to talk, of course you drop everything to listen and talk back. But sometimes, silence is golden.

There's a book by Micheal Reira we found very helpful, Uncommon Sense for Parents of Teenagers. The info is good, and the tone is very grounding.

Good luck. These are heavy lifting years for parents, but you and she will get through them together. anon, of course


I want to appreciate the wonderful responses so far. I remember that when I was 17 my parents were the most irritating people in the world, and it took me 20 years to get past that. This past year we've struggled with Events

Involving Really Bad Teen Judgment by my son (a junior), and our ineffective attempts at consequences and reasonable restrictions like curfews. My husband was upset to think that we were bad parents/citizens, but reassured after he checked in and found that almost all parents he knew have had even more grief and conflict, from teens we'd least suspect of it.

Our family therapist acknowledged our outrage that our son was an obnoxious slobby roommate with misplaced feelings of entitlement, making stupid mistakes (like not studying or getting enough sleep or handling his money well), and not a dutiful child mirroring our values. He also pointed out that our son's mistakes hadn't involved the police or personal injury or pregnancy or substance abuse, and that our son's grades (while slipping) and his health and potential were still excellent.

We took a deep breath and shipped him off to be away from us for 8 weeks, to live at a dorm and take summer college classes. It has been a wonderful thing for our son to be on his own, and clearly the right thing for all of us. He loves his big new world. He can be polite and cheerful in his infrequent contacts with us; we can be more accepting of his autonomy and confident of his safety. We're hoping that this will help us all survive his senior year together. another parent holding on


Boy, can I relate! I have a 12-year-old teenage too, and she's made life so stressful I sometimes feel like crying, too. You can find online support groups for parenting teens.

I love to read and have found these books that are helping me get through this phase (oh, gosh, 6 years?!) These should be available at the public library.
Get Out of My Life, But First Would You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall? When We're in Public, Could You Pretend You Don't Know Me? Ophelia's Mom: Loving and Letting Go Girl in the Mirror Why Do They Act That Way? (great book on the way teenage brain development leads to behaviors) Don't Give Me That Attitude! 24 Rude, Selfish, Insensitive Things Kids Do and How to Stop Them
I admire you for asking for support. Hang on. We'll all help each other get through this. Nancy


Reflections on my daughter's 18th birthday

Jan 2006

My daughter turns 18 this month and this has occasioned some reflection on my part about the task of being the parent of a teenager. She is my first- born; I still have a 15-year old son to fret over, so my work is not yet complete. But 18 is something special, not just another birthday.

As I have thought about the past five years (or more? she was certainly a teenager well before she was 13), the metaphor that sticks in my mind is that being the parent of a teenager is like delivering them all over again: the awe, wonder, joy, sense of accomplishment, and deep, overwhelming, all- consuming adoration of this new human being are all as fresh as they were 18 years ago. But there is also a lot of pain and a certain amount of blood on the floor.

As I\xc2\x92ve read through the \xc2\x93Parents of Teens\xc2\x94 entries over the years, there have been times when I\xc2\x92ve been smug and arrogant\xc2\x97what\xc2\x92s wrong with these people? We don\xc2\x92t have problems like that, why don\xc2\x92t they just do it the way we did? And there have been other times when I have felt guilty, hidden, and alone: surely no other child has been as you-name-the adjective (deceitful, lazy, thoughtless, messy, mean, etc.), and no other parent has been as helpless, as ineffectual, as bewildered, heartbroken, or betrayed by the actions of the child who came out of her own body.

To all of you who have shared this journey with us and especially to those who are still delivering: the fact is that most of these children survive being teenagers and most of us parents do too. The path is never what we expected or imagined, and many of our children will not be quite the people that we thought we wanted them to be. But they are also far more than we ever dared to hope and dream in so many ways. Mostly, they are a gift and they are a labor.

To my daughter (and you know who you are), I would like to say that you have always been and will always be the light of my life. I carried you in my heart long before I found the right partner to allow to be your father and I will carry you in my heart long after it stops beating, and yours stops beating, and your father\xc2\x92s and brother\xc2\x92s and children\xc2\x92s stop beating. You are a magnificent person\xc2\x97full of flaws, full of feeling, still becoming, but also, already, magnificent. Fly free, my child, fly free and high and be only as afraid as you need to be in order to be safe.

But first, turn off the TV, do your homework, finish your college apps, and clean your room.

Happy Birth Day and much love, from your mother. anonymous