Ahh, teenagers.

It’s tough, you know, trying to parent young people who are caught in the middle of childhood and adulthood. The physical, emotional, and behavioral changes brought on by the stages of puberty can be enough to drive an entire family insane, and it can be a dark time, my friends. Even if your teen is relatively well-behaved in the grand scheme of things (as mine are), puberty can be ugly. As they grow older, teenagers push back against “the system” in their fight to be more independent while still being taken care of within the family unit. They want to make their own decisions, and it’s a struggle for them to absorb, understand, and accept that just because they have adult-sized bodies and levels of responsibility much higher than when they were in single-digits, they are governed by rules that are sometimes based on age and experience.

That struggle makes them moody, to say the least, and often they cocoon their genuine selves away from their loved ones in the process.

I wrote one of my favorite posts, “What Do Frogs And John Belushi Have To Do With Teenagers, Anyway?” three whole years ago (don’t remember/didn’t read it? GO. And then come back.). It described the struggle of us as parents of teenagers, and how we didn’t plan on giving up. We were at the beginning of the long, dark tunnel of teenaged unrest with J.


Naturally we’ve had some great times–lots of them!–with J over the past three years, even as he’s had a little bit of a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde kind of thing going on. In the darkest times, though, I was worried that we lost our kid to puberty forever. (I have to add that, other than some school-related issues, J hasn’t–knock on wood!–been into any major trouble, “Praise the Lord and pass the people” as my mom used to say. And no, I don’t know what that means and it doesn’t even come up in a Google search.)

I have good news to report today. That long, dark tunnel finally seems to have a light at the end of it. After a few years of blank stares, one-word answers, and all of the other stuff that comes with a growing teen, we are starting to see J, our J, return to us. His brain is starting to catch up with his body, and we are the lucky beneficiaries once again of his sense of humor, his kindness, and even his wisdom. After a long, hard “winter”, our butterfly has finally broken out of his cocoon, showing the world that he is more mature, more responsible, and more amazing to be around than ever before.

I am proud.



  • m baker

    if you google the original phrase which was “praise the lord and pass the ammunition” you might be able to ascertain your mom’s meaning, thanks for this post

  • Diana

    Good to hear that someone has weathered the storm. We are deep in it now with my older stepdaughter. She is also not a talker. It is exacerbated by the fact that my stepdaughters came to live with us when the older one was just starting her freshman year because of several years of drug use/promiscuity/violence by their mother and older half-sister. It took a judge two years, but finally my husband’s concerns prevailed. We are so happy to have them with us, and grateful that she actually speaks to us now and is not using drugs or becoming promiscuous, but there is a lot of anger. Some of it is towards us, some probably towards her mother but irrationally aimed at us, and some is just typical teenage angst. We soldier on giving her love and praying every day. We don’t try to talk with her about her mother’s situation, it just seems to stir things up that she is not emotionally mature enough to deal with yet. The biggest problem right now is her struggles with academics. Living in chaos through the middle school years left her with huge knowledge gaps and little discipline for doing homework. Her grades are going to seriously affect her ability to go to college. I just had a discussion with her the other day, she was saying she was too emotional to pursue a certain career. I told her, “You won’t be emotional forever, your body is betraying you right now, have high expectations for yourself.” You are giving me hope that maybe by next year, her emotions will stabilize and we will be able to help her identify a path in life while she is still living at home with us. We are concerned that if she emerges from high school as angry and directionless as she seems now, she will go back to her mother and down a very scary path.

  • Grandma W

    I am so proud of J he is not a kid any more he is a very nice young man and you and Jim should be very proud.
    By the way I love the bow tie, his great grandfather Dan would love it so much. Do you remember him wearing them almost all the time?

  • Mrs4444

    After further thought…I wonder if having more elbow room at home hasn’t helped a little; getting out from under his brother’s shadow is probably nice 🙂