Last updated on Jun 21st, 2021 at 03:30 pm

In many ways, these teenage years, meltdowns notwithstanding, are a time of miracle and wonder as I watch them grow into their future selves…

Let’s face it, the teen years are tough, and not just for the teens. They’re in an age of change that can widen the gap of misunderstanding and intolerance between the generations. But if you’re on the parenthood side of the divide, take a deep breath and reconsider your position, with this list of reasons to make the most of those teenage years.

I’ll be honest – I was dreading the teenage years. But now that I’m here – with a 13-year-old and a 16-year-old – I’m finding that it’s not nearly as bad as I imagined.

I should probably specify that I have daughters, and I concede that boys might be an entirely different prospect. But apart from the occasional meltdown – always on the days when I have no emotional reserves, of course – there are definite benefits to having teenagers.

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1. They can bath themselves and wash their own hair

I loved bath time when they were small, but it’s kind of unrelenting, that end-of-day madness, trying to bath two squirming bodies, cook supper and ensure you don’t either burn supper or let them drown, as tempting as the latter option may feel sometimes.

2. They sleep late on weekends and during the holidays

And when they do wake up, they don’t need you to do anything! They just get on with breakfast and leave you in peace.

3. They can do stuff

Washing the car, bathing or walking the dogs, cooking dinner, helping you move furniture – they have a myriad uses! They may be reluctant, but they’re also mercenary – especially if you give them a modest amount of pocket money – their needs are always greater than their income. (Evil genius level: expert.)

4. They can handle a hot kettle safely

And that means tea. Here you have to be organised – I can now summon tea by sending the 13-year-old a WhatsApp: “I love you.” It works like a dream. It doesn’t seem to work so well with her older sister anymore, so I’m milking it for all it’s worth while the younger one is still compliant.

5. They call you on your bullsh*t

Teenagers are straight-talking, and they see through all the smoke and mirrors we adults throw up around things. They will go straight to the heart of the matter, and that’s a gift.

6. They see people for who they really are

There are people my children didn’t like the minute they laid eyes on them, and they have always been right about those people in the long run. I’ve learnt to pay attention.

7. They have opinions

Those opinions may not be well-formed or informed yet, but they hold those opinions and they express them without fear. They think and they argue and those opinions will drive you nuts, but it’s wonderful to see them engaging with their world and trying to make sense of it all. And every now and then they say something that makes you think: “I did a good job.” Only every now and then, mind you …

I’ve loved my kids at every age. (I didn’t like them while they were tweens, to be fair, but I loved them.) In many ways, these teenage years, meltdowns notwithstanding, are a time of miracle and wonder as I watch them grow into their future selves.

Just don’t tell them I said so, okay? I’ll never hear the end of it.

(Article by Mandy Collins, first published on Change Exchange)