The Secret to Surviving the Teen Years

The Secret to Surviving the Teen Years

One mom shares how she and her husband managed to get through their kids’ teenage years.

By Wendy Robinson

When I was pregnant with my first child, someone asked me if I was afraid of the “terrible 2s” and I just started laughing. At the time, I was a stepmom to a 14-year-old and a 17-year-old, so I simply replied, “I live with teenagers. Toddlers are going to be a breeze!”

And, to be honest, I was right. Toddlers are easier than teenagers, even when you factor in changing diapers and public tantrums. Teenagers tested my patience and grace, and there were days I really wondered if we’d all survive until the boys left for college.

Like most of my friends who are also stepparents, I never thought I’d fall in love and marry someone who already had children. But I met my husband (whose sons were 10 and 13 at the time) and fell in love quickly. We were engaged four months after we met and married less than a year later. I liked the boys, but it took longer for me to fall in love with them. The pre-teen and teen years were really challenging sometimes. There were lots of slammed doors and fights over homework and room cleaning and curfews. At times I wondered what I had gotten myself into, which I thought was related to being new to the parenting game until my husband confessed that sometimes he wondered the same thing. “I love him,” he said after one particularly explosive argument about cell phone use, “but I’m not totally sure I like him all that much right now.”

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Parenting older children can be tough. You don’t get the physical affection and cuteness of littler ones – instead you get eye rolls and hormones and the fun of living with someone who thinks you are a moron half the time. But don’t despair: It doesn’t last. Like so many of the things I worry about as a parent, the solution is time. Time to grow up. Time to mature. Time to be on their own a bit.

My stepsons (whom I love with my whole heart) are now 20 and 23. They are interesting and smart and no longer living with us, so I don’t have to deal with sharing a bathroom with them ever again. The other day I got an out-of-the-blue text from one saying, “I miss you and I love you,” and the other one favorited a picture of his little sister on Twitter and then called his dad for a nice long chat. We survived and we all like each other now. It really does get better.

How are you handling the tween and teen years?

Wendy Robinson is a writer, working mom, and graduate student. Someday she'd like to sleep in again. She also blogs at

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I married into 6 step-children and at that time only one was a teenager. Now I have 3 teenage girls! Let me just say that they are sneaky little things. Playing my husband, their mother and myself against each other is the toughest game of "he said, she said." I honestly loved all 6 of them 6 months into my relationship and still do through the eye rolling and the "you're nuts" looks.

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