'My 17yo is currently staying somewhere else.' 15 parents share their experience with teenagers.

This post deals with suicide and might be triggering for some readers. 

The beginning of our kids’ teenage years is a time when we all hold our breath. That child, who once would rush up to show us an interesting rock they’d found, would take our hand to cross the road, would beg for one more story at night, is now no longer a child. We all want to keep that close relationship as they shoot up taller than us and stride towards adulthood, but it doesn’t always turn out that way. 

Mamamia asked parents to tell us about their relationship with their teens. Every story is different. Some will make your heart sing, some will make your heart break. 

Watch: Celebrities share their letters to their teenage self. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.
  • “My 13-year-old son, all attitude and ‘too cool’ during the day, reverts to his gorgeous little self at goodnight time, teddies and all. Still loves that reassurance and love.”
  • “My 15-year-old daughter cannot stand the sound of my voice. She literally plugs her ears. That, and everything I say and do is ridiculous or mortifying. I’m holding out for 17. Apparently they come good then.”
  • “Our 17-year-old, who’s in Year 11, is currently staying somewhere we don’t know at the moment after a huge blow-up yesterday when she told her dad he’s the worst parent, always has been and has never taught her anything.”
  • “My 17-year-old son will always ask for a cuddle. We chat and do lots together. If I’m sad, he always notices. He hugs me, asks me what’s wrong and lets me talk, offering incredible logical opinions and often advice. He’s the best! I should note here, he was diagnosed with Aspergers at the age of five and supposed to be unable to connect in this way. But I have spent years with him in therapy and it’s totally paid off. I couldn’t be prouder.” 

Listen to This Glorious Mess. Post continues below.

  • “My son is nearly 14 and up until this point has always been a predictable, (relatively) even-tempered, gentle person. He slept in my bed nearly every night unless his dad (who is FIFO) was home. Four weeks ago, I discovered he has suicidal thoughts and wants to harm himself. He was getting brutally bullied by a boy in his grade, and when he did the right thing and blocked the kid on all socials, the kids recruited other people to do it for him, sending him texts about how ‘you have no friends and should just kill yourself’. I’ve just tried to be as level-headed and calm and metered in my reactions as possible.”
  • Mia compares having a son grow up to the longest breakup ever, but my daughter turning 14 has been a brutal, abrupt separation that I didn’t see coming and I am blindsided and feeling heartbroken. The phone is easy to blame, but maybe it would be like this anyway. Same for COVID and disruption to school early in the year. She has gone from being high achieving, a school leader and engaged in extra-curricular activities to being in her room and on her phone. Refuses to talk to me about school or friends. Thankfully still engaged with sport and our extended family. I’m trying to find positives and hold on to what I can and hoping I get to the other side with both her and my mental health intact.”
  • “My boys, now 15, 19 and 22, have all been gorgeous teenagers and never stopped communicating. They tell me everything. The first two had school issues due to mental health and ADHD, among other things, so we had very trying times, but we never got the expected hate and grunting. They can be annoying and unhelpful but I love them to bits.”
  • “The last week my nearly 19-year-old son has put a knife to my heart. I asked for a hug because I had missed him because I hadn’t seen him recently. His reply: ‘Yeah, it’s been great, hasn’t it?’ On the other hand, when I had a breakdown and was incapable of looking after my kids, they stepped up in massive ways. My son would catch a different bus to pick up his sisters from school (he was 14 at the time, the girls were 10), and all three of them would cook dinners, do the washing and clean the house.”
  • “I have a 17-year-old daughter. She definitely hibernates in her room but also graces us with her presence. She has anxiety, so she needs that alone time, but she does socialise and we always watch the news together and eat dinner. She has been really easy so far.”
  • “I have two boys, 21 and nearly 18. Youngest will listen to absolutely no one and says he is constantly being ‘lectured’ whenever anyone tries to talk to him about anything. Huge risk-taker and extremely disrespectful and takes everything for granted and thinks he always knows best!”
  • “I have two teenage girls, 17 and 14. To be honest, I was dreading the teenage years, but they have been wonderful. Being in Melbourne, the highlight of lockdown for me was the extra time I spent with my girls, without having to share them with the rest of the world! We talked each day about what they were doing at school and we walked together. Each Saturday night we had a ‘theme’ dinner at home: Mexican, Italian, high tea, American BBQ… it was lovely to all be together.”
  • “Phone addiction, time in room and the assumption that I am completely clueless and have been walking around for the last 40 years with eyes and ears closed, having learnt nothing in life. It is challenging but I’m trying to ‘hang in there’ as every woman who has gone before me tells me to do.”
  • “My 15-year-old daughter and I LOVE spending time together. She’s one of the coolest humans I know. She regularly hands me her iPad to video chat with her friends… but she has a password on her phone that she has never been asked to share, so she knows we respect her boundaries. My daughter and I love the same shows and we regularly message each other when we’re not together. Seriously, she’s one of my favourite people in the world.”
  • “I have a 14-year-old son who has a difficult personality but he’s one in a million. Doesn’t have a phone, doesn’t play video games, draws, knits, does crochet, is happy, healthy, likes school (gets average grades) and we get along well. I have to nag him in the morning and he’s argumentative but I wouldn’t trade him for the world. He almost never goes in his room but flaps about constantly TikToking, plays board games with us, groans but comes bushwalking, looks after his cat and falls into line when you get firm.”
  • “Four daughters over here – 15, 14, 12 and 11. I love the times they make me feel like a daggy old mum, because it’s often all in good fun, dancing in the kitchen – me unable to do a TikTok move and the girls laughing/crying about it. Whilst we have our moments and always will, I love them with all the love in the world. I lost my sister in a car accident, so the sisterly moments and mother/daughter moments I get to share with our girls make me grateful every day.”

Feature Image: Getty.