Living the life of a teenager’s parent

Parenthood   ›   Living the life of a teenager’s parent

We met with Sarah, Blaise, Marie-Soleil, Guillaume, Julie, Estefania and Mireille, parents of teenagers between 12 and 18 years old. We asked them what surprises them the most about their young ones, what delights them, but also what exasperates them: do you recognize yourself in their stories?

Adolescence is a complex period, navigating numerous factors without an instruction manual. It’s a time of self-discovery, identity formation, and experiencing life’s ups and downs, rarely in a linear fashion. But it’s not just teenagers who experience adolescence at 1000%: their parents are also at the forefront of their teen’s fluctuating moods and character, which is sure to create surprises, both good and bad!


A world of contradictions


Contradictions are at the heart of adolescence – towards oneself as well as towards those around them. Parents are often the first targets of their teen's 360-degree turns. Although difficult to follow, these contradictions are natural and essential to the young person's development.  

"I’m always surprised by her great maturity on certain subjects, and her great immaturity on others! No grey area!"

"It’s funny to see how she wants to move towards adulthood, and that she tends towards that. But on the other hand, there are so many signs that show us she's still a child! It's really obvious that adolescence is that: having one foot in two universes that don't meet. Hello, the splits!"

"It’s hard to find my place with her sometimes. She expects me to be there all the time, available and present. But I have to give her her freedom. But I must remind her to do her homework. But I have to let her go out. Help, for real."

"What surprises us the most is that her attitude can change in a split second and go from one extreme to the other – never in between. All it takes is for us to say a word, to make a gesture that doesn't suit her, and suddenly she goes from a normal attitude to anger, losing all her empathy. Most of the time, we don't even know what we could have said or done to experience this total torunaround."


Weird, You Said Weird?


Adolescence is a period of profound transformations and major upheavals, it's the time when we give birth to an autonomous self, different from our parents. This can translate into behaviors, attitudes, or language that confront parents.


"Sometimes, she texts endlessly with her friends. I ask her then why they don't call each other, and she replies, 'too lazy'. That, for me, is incomprehensible."

"Honestly, when he talks to his friends, I don't recognize him. He says words, with a tone, even an accent that he doesn't have at all at home. I let it go, but I hope he expresses himself better with his teachers."


Teen = Frustrating


Beyond the little quirks, adolescent identity construction often involves conflict. Provocations, absolute knowledge, and eye rolls: a selection of what exasperates you the most.


"What drives me crazy is the state of her room and her little know-it-all answers."

"He mumbles SO MUCH! When I ask him to repeat something he said that I didn't understand, he gets angry and shuts up, or he speaks in his super low, deep voice so I understand even less."

"I sometimes get really upset when I hear her say outrageous things to her little brother, or even to us. Things that make no sense. I ask her if she realizes what she's saying, how hard it is, sometimes mean. She doesn't let anything go with her brother, even though she knows how to be so kind to him at other times."

"What exasperates me the most is paying for their cell phone plan, and they don't answer me when I try to reach them! The glasses that pile up in their rooms, the jeans pockets not emptied when I do the laundry... And more seriously, their loss of interest in school since the pandemic. That's hard, I think."

"It’s simple, my daughter has an answer for everything. The other day, I asked her to pick something up, and she sighed. I asked her if she realized that I spent my life picking up after her. She answered me with the greatest relaxation that I, unlike her, had chosen this life. I didn't even know what to say."


A Host of Good Surprises


Young people offer us a fresh look at the world, an intense and authentic look, far from the cynicism and heaviness of the environment. Teenagers experience everything for the first time, and it's fabulous to watch them go.


"I thought confrontation was inevitable, that they were going to send me away one day or another, be mean, rebel. Not at all! They tested some limits but always remained respectful and grateful. It's possible and it fills my heart!"

"My daughter is bright, sensitive, and willing. She likes to spend time with me. We do skincare routines and laugh a lot together. She's like a friend who costs me a lot of money!"

"What delights me is having created a mini best friend. When I spend time with my daughter, I wouldn't trade my place for anything in the world. I love to spoil her and please her, take care of her, give her my all. It's very rewarding for me!"

"Our bond is fusional. Her emotional maturity, her empathy, her compassion, and her understanding of others and the world are extraordinary."

"What do I love about her? The way she talks about her passion (dance), her gratitude for what we do for her, her demonstrations of affection."

"He’s an excellent big brother: he takes the time to help him with his homework, to motivate him for athletics, which they both practice... It's beautiful to see."