Wow, this draft was last touched in 2011. I have a teenager now– I think I will finish this post using italics so you can see what has changed in the past 10 years now that I’m less ignorant! I bet I know less!
Disclaimer: we don’t have any yet. Update: We have one teenager and one almost-9 year old.
Often it is said that your teenagers need you more as a SAHP than they did as toddlers. This was maybe a bit true last year– the transition from doing nothing academically in middle-school to all of a sudden having AP classes and homework in every class and being expected to know things that weren’t taught in middle-school was pretty traumatic for everyone. There was also just a ton of hir needing to remember things. Last year turning in English assignments (last period of the day) was the WORST, and zie kept making the exact same MLA citation mistake on every single paper and getting Cs because of it. THE SAME MISTAKE. But this year has been a lot better. I don’t know if it’s getting more sleep, having everything set with deadlines electronically, the more flexibility that the pandemic has brought or what, but oddly having DC1 home 24/7 has been less stressful and less time for us than hir going to school. (The same is not true for DC2!) [Though to be fair, they have never needed me as a SAHP. I guess technically DH is a SAHP right now, but looking for work and doing unemployment training stuff is kind of a part-time job, so…]
I sure hope that’s not true.
I hope my DC is mature enough at that point to make good decisions on hir own. I hope I’m mature enough to trust DC to make those decisions, even if they end up becoming learning experiences. For the most part DC1 is mature and makes good decisions. Zie just needs to do some kind of extra-curricular and also there are some things zie can work on in terms of project management, but those aren’t bad decisions so much as small mistakes.
Working mom from generations of working moms… This is still true– the point I wanted to make here was that I had friends/acquaintances whose moms were SAHM and who basically catered to their every whim and made sure they met deadlines and helped them with their art projects and science fair projects and so on. I was expected to figure this stuff out myself– my mom had work, and school was my work. So starting in 5th grade or so she stopped going through my back-pack and just expected me to get good grades, which I did. (In 5th grade we also got school planners and they had to be signed every night– my mom ended up telling me just to forge her signature, which I did. I still can! She better not let me near her checkbooks!)
if my mom is to be believed, she cleaned the entire house and got her younger siblings to school every morning.. I never had to do anything like that, but I was expected to be responsible for myself.
I wasn’t quite that much of a superwoman, but I started helping with hardcore chores by age 7 and was cooking dinner several nights a week by the time I was a teenager… This is true! I could cook many things by heart. Oh hey, it looks like I say what I wanted to say here a couple sentences lower. I just the patterns of my brain haven’t changed much in the past 10 years.
I was more helpful as a teen than as a younger kid.
This benefited me as well… by the time I was on my own I knew how to cook and grocery shop and do basic cleaning. I’d been taught. I had years of practice. Just because I choose not to do many of these things now doesn’t mean I don’t know how.
As the kid gets older, zie waits on the parents rather than the other way around. That’s how I was brought up. I had kind of hoped for this, but alas, DC1 has to be cajoled to empty the dishwasher or make hir one meal a week etc. The cajoling often takes both parents (zie only does it, with grumbling, when the SECOND parent, usually DH, says zie has to). DC2 has been pretty helpful on the days that school assignments get done super early. I think zie gets bored.
Sure, I went through normal stages of teenage angst… and was treated with sympathetic but amused indulgence that it probably deserved. DC1 had some rebel-ly angst last year, but sometime last year zie found out that one of hir friends has a terrible homelife (zie was telling us this this year while in pandemic, not last year when it actually happened– zie hasn’t kept in touch with the kid, otherwise I’d have suggested zie bring the kid home sometimes) and that made hir grateful for us. And then this year there’s just been no angst at all, which I attribute to being able to get up at 8 instead of 6. Sleep is important!
I had friends who went through more abnormal stages of teenage angst. Mostly coinciding with parents divorcing. Some with SAHM (I’m not sure what I meant by this or who I was thinking about). My mom bought a pregnancy test for a friend of mine…(huh, was her mom a SAHM? I have lost that memory!) Some angst caused by parents, abuse… (There’s a reason kids go away to boarding school…) When we were residence assistants in graduate school we had a student who was an only child with a very overbearing mom… he was a stress case. One nice thing about being busy with work is that it’s really hard to cause too much damage through overparenting– there just isn’t *time*! I mean, maybe if you’re that law professor at Yale who is super messed up (apparently she hosted inappropriate parties this past year in exchange for clerkship recommendations and her husband is not supposed to be alone with law students and it sounds like there’s a lot going on besides the Tiger Mom stuff). But most of us don’t have that kind of energy!
So… I wonder how to end this. Maybe just with a series of questions for Grumpy Nation.
Obligatory update: A commenter reminded me that the mommy wars exist and I forgot to put a disclaimer #NotAllSAHP. You do you, bro. Empirical evidence says it DOESN’T MATTER (low SES kids do better in high quality preschool, bad preschools are worse than educated moms… and nothing else makes a lick of difference). That’s another nice thing about having a teenager instead of a toddler– all this stupid stuff people get angry about is years and years away. I’ve completely forgotten all the stuff that the patriarchy forces women to fight about as if it matters instead of fighting a common enemy. And I was just reminded the other day when a friend of mine mentioned a facebook war she was watching about whether or not it was ok to call your pets your children and yourself your pets’ mom. Maybe now that Trump is out of office, we’re back to our own stupidities? Guys, voter suppression is going on in a huge number of states. Figure out what your state is doing and make phonecalls. Also call your federal MOC and ask them to pass HR1.
What do you think teenagers’ role in the household is? Were you a help or a hindrance to your parents as a teenager? If applicable: Do your kids wait on you or the other way around? What should they be doing?