Teenagers Are Awesome, Not Awful: #ToMyTeen

MeaganFrancisThis post is part of a sponsored campaign. Read on to find out more about #ToMyTeen!

In a little over a month, I will be the mom of both a 17- and 15-year old.

And yet somehow, until quite recently, it just didn’t occur to me that for years now I’ve been knee-deep in this, allegedly the most challenging, frightening, no-fun-at-all parenting stage: the teen years.

Because despite all the warnings I got when my kids were younger: “Think it’s bad now? Just you wait!

Despite what the rest of the world – fellow moms, relatives, parenting experts, sitcoms, commercials –  had to say about it, the fact is this:

As it turns out, I love parenting teenagers. 

Say what?

My teens can be challenging, yes. Sometimes they demonstrate their struggle for independence in obnoxious ways. And sometimes they act like jerks – then again, so do I.

They’re also hilarious. Smart. Affectionate. Knowledgeable about the world. Great conversationalists. And just all-around good people. 

I know I can’t have the only two teens in the world who aren’t lazy, entitled, ignorant, rude, disrespectful, or any of the other adjectives commonly used to describe teenagers. So why is there such a disconnect between our culture’s depiction of adolescents and the actual experiences of real parents I know who are also enjoying the teen years? 

Look, I know that there’s no way to guarantee we’ll have a great relationship with our children at any stage. All kids go through rough phases, and they all make mistakes along the way.

I also realize that I could have a very different kind of experience raising a teen daughter than I have had, so far, with my sons.

But just like anything else – motherhood, marriage, making dinner, delegating chores, or anything else –  the way we assume we will feel about something often colors our reality. How can we really stay connected to our teens if we think of them as ticking time bombs – and how can we expect them to rise to the occasion and make good choices if we insist on treating them like science experiments gone terribly wrong?

It’s time to change the conversation about teen parenting.

Raising-Teens-Today_Meagan_VER-1

This month, I am thrilled to be partnering with the Consumer Healthcare Products Association and the Stop Medicine Abuse campaign to elevate the dialogue about what it means to care for and guide these awesome, unique, valuable human beings we call “teenagers.”

October is National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month, and in addition to raising awareness about medicine abuse, we also want to highlight positive feelings about parenting teens on the #ToMyTeen photo gallery. #ToMyTeen was the inspiration behind this photo session with my 15-year-old, Isaac (isn’t he stinking adorable?) and you can get involved, too: post your own teen-positive pictures and messages on the #ToMyTeen site, and you’ll be automatically entered to win a $50 Visa gift card at the same time.

It’s super easy to post your pics: just head over the “Create Your Own” area of #ToMyTeen, scroll down the page and follow the simple instructions.

Need inspiration? Check out the #ToMyTeen gallery – it’s full of awesome pics that highlight what’s great about raising teenagers today. You might also catch a few other shots of Isaac and I, in case this cuteness isn’t enough for you:

I. MEAN.

Yes, teens need boundaries and rules, and I know that a big part of my job is steering my kids away from dangers, like the growing trend of teenagers abusing cough medicine to get high. But there’s more to it than that: the way we connect with and relate to our kids has a huge effect, too.

Research shows that kids who have solid relationships with their parents are more confident and resistant to peer pressure, meaning they’re likely to make better choices about what they put in their bodies. And while we can’t control everything our kids do at any age, one thing we do have some power over is helping our teenagers to recognize their own potential by showing how much we recognize it ourselves. 

I know it’s fun to kvetch sometimes. I’ve done it about my kids, toddlers and teens alike.

But I think it’s so important that we realize the power our words have over an entire population of children who are hovering on the edge of adulthood. When we perpetuate the stereotypes that say teens are lazy, reckless, up to no good, etc. etc., it’s only too easy to start believing it. And what we believe, our kids will eventually start to believe as well.

So will you join me in helping the rest of the world see teens in a more positive light while showing the teenager in your life some love?

Head over to #ToMyTeen now and add your own photo to the gallery along with a positive message about your teenager. You can share your photo to Facebook or Twitter right from the gallery to get more people on board. Then come back and leave a comment letting us know you posted and what your special message is!

If you don’t have teens yet, I’d love to hear what your biggest worries are about this stage of parenting. Maybe my fellow parents-of-teens and I can give you some reassurance.

Can’t wait to hear what you think about raising teenagers today!

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