16 Overlooked Joys Of Raising A Teenager

Moms and dads share the unexpected upsides of parenting a teen.

There’s no denying we have a cultural obsession with the baby and toddler years. Once kids are around age 4, we’re told, the magic of parenting practically vanishes overnight. By the time your kid hits the teenage years, the prevailing narrative is that things go downhill fast.

Negative stereotypes about teens abound: They’re moody, addicted to their phones and want nothing to do with their parents. It’s not that those characteristics are wholly untrue, it’s just that they don’t paint the full picture.

“Being a teen and managing the new moods, hormones, thoughts, challenges, and pressures inside and outside of their body is a lot to handle,” Ann-Louise Lockhart — a pediatric psychologist, parent coach and mom of a teen and a pre-teen — told HuffPost. “So, yes, their brain gets over-taxed and it can lead to moodiness due to exhaustion, frustration, sadness, and a bunch of other feelings.”

And keep in mind that when a child hits adolescence, it’s developmentally appropriate for them to shift their needs for attention and companionship from their parents to their peers, Lockhart said.

“Teens start to realize they have individual interests, thoughts, values, and beliefs apart from their parents and family of origin. They become their own individual,” she said.

“We want this for our teens ― to raise them up, teach them, instill family values, and help them develop into healthy human beings. But, we also want to give them space to explore exactly what it means to be who they are and realize they can freely choose their own path.”

We hear so much about the negative aspects of raising a teen and so little about the positive ones. So we thought it would be refreshing to highlight some of the unexpected upsides of this stage of parenting.

As Kelly A., a mom of five, told HuffPost: “Amidst the storms of their adolescence, unexpected joys bloom like flowers in the cracks of the pavement.” Below, parents and caregivers share some of the overlooked joys of having a teenager.

How They Always Keep You In The Know

“Teens can have great recommendations for products, food, music, humorous content and more. They talk to people and get information from social media accounts, so they are really plugged into what’s new and interesting. Things that might not be on your radar. My daughter has told me about great makeup and hair products, some really fun apps, and an excellent taco restaurant, to name a few things. I feel like they have a wealth of information. The key is to show interest in what they like. Ask questions. Ask for suggestions. And, bonus: This helps create a meaningful connection with them.” — Adrienne Hedger

“My teens keep me current with everything: language/slang, style, tech, music, attitudes about everything from diversity and inclusion, to what is ‘cringe’ and what their generation values. It is pure joy to learn from them and see the world from their perspective, which is often more enlightened than many adults I know!” — Craddock S.

Their Unexpected Displays Of Affection

“The random long big bear hugs from your 6-foot son.” — Michelle O.

“While further and fewer between, the unexpected ‘I love you, Mom’ or hugs out of nowhere. More precious than ever.” — Tasha S.

“It is really a wonder to watch people become themselves," one parent shared.
Jordi Salas via Getty Images
“It is really a wonder to watch people become themselves," one parent shared.

Their Sense Of Humor

“Teenagers’ humor is probably not talked about often. Kids are funny, but often not on purpose. Teenagers, on the other hand, are old enough to understand humor better. He makes me laugh multiple times a day. Which helps when he has moments of pissing me off.” — Shane B.

“Teenagers are really funny. I love talking to teens, whether I’m doing a presentation to a school, engaging them in therapy, or speaking to my own. They say such funny things and are quick-witted. Sometimes this can be misinterpreted as rude, sarcastic comments because they continue to learn who they are, understand their strengths, and how they relate to others. With all the adulting, adults can be so serious, stuck in their ways, and don’t see the joys in simple things. Teens don’t miss this, and I love that about them.” — Lockhart

When They Teach You New Skills

“I am so much better at makeup now at age 48 than I ever have been. My girls are so kind and complimentary and really love sharing tips and tricks they have learned.” — Jennifer L.

Seeing Their Confidence Grow

“The joy of looking at your taller, well-raised, confident teenagers is unparalleled: to listen to their endless conversations, their dreams, aspirations, their carefree innocent laughter, everything. I have enjoyed every stage of my teen son and daughter thoroughly.” — Ritwitka M.

“I love to see the confidence and value she has in herself, knowing that while I didn’t ‘make’ that part of her, I didn’t break it, either. I love being proud of what a just kick-ass person she is. And I have way better fashion sense than I ever have because all it takes is a simple side glance to make you question everything about yourself. Also, I can get ‘convinced’ into stopping for iced coffee way more often than I would for just myself.” — Erin J.

Having Deep Conversations

“You can have more mature conversations because they get it. I really love this stage for this reason. From engaging teens in therapy sessions as a pediatric psychologist to speaking to my own teen/pre-teen. The types of conversations parents can have with teens [hit] different. They begin to understand the world, their education, others and themselves in different ways. They ask challenging questions that help us grown-ups see the world in different ways. They are growing up in an entirely different generation, so [seeing] adolescence from their perspective is fascinating.” — Lockhart

“Kids are funny, but often not on purpose. Teenagers, on the other hand, are old enough to understand humor better.”

- Shane B.

Hosting Their Friends

“When we had teenagers many years ago, it was just delightful. I remember waking up with my husband on any Saturday morning, he’d say, ‘How many pancakes?’ I’d call out to the kids, and their friends. They were sleeping on sofas, beds, in the basement, and in our little guest house. Sometimes a few of them were sleeping on the trampoline. Once we had an approximate number, he’d start cooking.

Then the teenagers would come from everywhere. They ate breakfast, they made us laugh. And they were respectful, and fun, and amazing. I still remember every single one of those angels.” — Annie K.

Developing A Friendship With Them

“I didn’t realize how much of a good friend she would become. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company. I’ve always had a hard time with maintaining close friendships with women, and I think our relationship will continue to grow in beautiful ways. She is someone who is very much a reflection of who I was at her age, and yet so completely different.” — Kathleen D.

Getting To Be Less Hands-On In Your Parenting

“Today I was driving to work and really thinking about how much I am really enjoying my teenagers right now! I have four boys — three teenagers — and they are just fun and funny to be around! I love hearing them laugh together, having inside jokes, helping each other out with homework, wrestling around for fun (not for wanting to kill each other like the younger years!)

“When they need advice or help with an issue, when they just need to feel ‘home’ and safe and they come to you, it’s heartbreakingly wonderful.”

- Erin K.

I love hearing them talk about their future plans like college, careers and the occasional, ‘Mom, I’ll put you in a nice nursing home.’ All of the years when they were babies, toddlers, elementary age was very intensive and time-consuming, now it’s more of watching, communicating and gently guiding my teens to love themselves and to enjoy their lives.” — Christine S.

Watching Them Discover Who They Are

“Something that isn’t talked about is the beauty in watching a child find themselves as he’s maturing. Just at a deeper level. My oldest is 14. He had a rough year at 13. Confused and angry about his body changes and moods. But to see who he is now and how he came out of that. He’s an amazing kid. He knows his worth. He’s more confident. I love it. We have great deep conversations at very odd times of the day when he’s in the mood to pick my brain.” — Shane B.

Traveling Together

“Travel is so fun with teens! After years of toddler tantrums, it is such a welcome change. It is really a wonder to watch people become themselves.” — Sarah K.

Being Able To Share More Of Your Life And History

“When the aunt or uncle gives the teenager history of their parent. To share those secrets and fun times gives the teenager a new perception of their parent only a story retold by a loved one could provide.” — Maude E.

Hearing Their Perspective On Adults

“The funny and interesting views they have on adults. They are very perceptive and notice everything. One of my sons can imitate voices, and his skits of how he sees adults and mimicking them are hysterical. They watch us as much as we watch them.” — Beth D.

When They Confide In You Or Ask For Your Advice

“When your teen comes to you, without you asking, there is no greater joy. When they need advice or help with an issue, when they just need to feel ‘home’ and safe, and they come to you, it’s heartbreakingly wonderful. You know you’ve made them comfortable enough to go it alone on some things, while still being their home base. I feel most secure in my parenting and their early adulting.” — Erin K.

When They Do The Right Thing

“For example, at the end of a movie we were attending, everyone was making their way to the exits. My son, who was about 15 at the time, jumped over the seats in front of us, bent down, and took off running. His dad and I were perplexed until we saw him catch up to a man and hand him a wallet. He had seen the wallet fall out of the guy’s pocket as he exited the row. Just one small example, but I was a proud momma!” — Patricia L.

“Hearing from teachers and coaches that your teen is a positive role model for others and treats others with kindness, even when he/she thinks no one is watching.” — Jill H.

Witnessing Their Compassionate Side

“When I listen to my teen trying to make sense of the world, I see her compassion emerge. She has a clear heart that is not jaded. She is full of possibilities and hope. I love seeing the future blossom inside of her.” — Julia

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