As the mother of two teen daughters, there are daily parenting challenges that can't be found in parenting books. The "third circle of hell," also known as parenting teenagers, can be rough.
Some of my best friends have already lived through this parenting stage and survived it with their sense of humor intact.
I've learned there are five absolute rules of parenting teenagers that will save your sanity. I shared the first absolute rule and so the second rule should go down quite easily. If you have any kind of alcoholic beverage near you, now is the time to take a sip.
Absolute Rule #2 -- Bad Takes on a Whole New Meaning (Blue hair and nose rings are not bad).
I learned about this rule when my oldest daughter hit high school. My older daughter's first year of high school was hard... on me. I felt like I had dropped my child on another planet, where all the alien girls wore dresses the size of a Kleenex tissue.
A little tough love from one of my best friends helped me get a grip.
One morning, I called my friend in a panic. When I was dropping off my freshman daughter at school, I witnessed two teenagers almost having sex in the car next to me. My friend, who has raised four teenagers without losing sanity or her sense of humor, quietly listened to my rant. Then she asked me two questions:
"Is your daughter on crack? Is she pregnant?"
When I answered no to both of these questions, my friend replied:
"Bad takes on a whole new meaning when you have teenagers. The stuff you worry about changes completely. If it's not your daughter having sex in the car next to you -- let it go. You need to toughen up or you won't make it."
Bad becomes REALLY bad when you are raising teenagers. Keeping your kids safe, while letting them make mistakes, is a daily challenge. We learn valuable life lessons by making mistakes but the stakes are higher for modern teens. A lapse in good judgement, like posting a drunken picture on the Internet, can follow your child forever.
Parents can get in trouble, even go to jail, if your teen has a party at your house. Eight states have specific "social host" laws that say parents can get in trouble if underage guests are drinking.
Raising a teenager in 2012 is way different from when you were growing up. Keep it simple and worry about the stuff that matters. In other words, if your kid isn't having a kid or smoking a crack pipe -- you're doing alright as a parent.
Photo: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight/Juno