Raising Teenagers Feels a Lot like Beat the Clock (Part 1)

TEENAGERS present a whole new challenge on the parenting journey, but not for the reasons you may think.

Shortly after our oldest recently turned 14, my husband and I celebrated 15 years of marriage. Four short years, and our “baby’s” legally a man. I feels like we’re playing beat the clock and running out of time to get him ready for the real world. Have we prepared him well?

Help! I'm raising a teenager. I feel like I'm running out of time to prepare my child for the real world.

Wait a minute. Who am I kidding! As much as my husband and I partner in raising our children, when it comes down to it, I’m really asking if I’ve done well. Have I been a good mom? And I wish I could say I’ve always done my best.

Let me rephrase that. I’m doing my best, it just isn’t always the best. I’m not always the mom he needs or the one I aspire to.

And that’s sobering, considering the pressure moms endure. If you’re not trying to be as good as your mom, then you’re like me, and you’re trying to be better. With your neck on swivel you also compare ourselves with the moms surrounding you every day. You may even envy their families, not realizing things aren’t always what they seem and you might not be willing to pay the price for what you think you see.

The pressure to be a good mom, even while raising teenagers.

Then you throw in my credentials, as a pediatrician, on top of my perfectionist tendencies, and the pressure multiples like your grandmother’s pressure cooker. All the training, all the counseling of other parents. I want to “get it right” with my own kiddos, even as teenagers. Is that too much to ask? Yes, when no such animal exists.

Motherhood isn’t about getting it right, but doing the best you can with what you’ve been given and seeing your mistakes as learning opportunities, rather than bony fingers of judgment.


With all the self-condemning thoughts we wrestle every day, it’s a wonder we get out of the bed and attempt to raise our children. But that’s the way of mothers isn’t it? We find some sort of sick comfort in criticizing ourselves and comparing ourselves to others, desperately trying to conform to standards never expressly given.

No where does it say my children’s outcomes depend solely on me, because they don’t.

Sure, I play a significant part. But in my basketball family, I’m what’s known as a role player. And so are you—whatever sport your family’s into.

Motherhood is an opportunity to partner with God, the star player.

And it’s usually when I’m chastising myself for coming up short as a mom, that a still small voice tells me I could stand to do less.


When I overplay my role, I get easily frustrated because I interpret my child’s struggles as my failure. I see myself as their answer though I’m full of questions myself. Now that I’m raising teenagers I’m in a murky emotional mix, realizing most of my parenting years are behind me.

A measure of panic kicks in. Will he become who he’s meant to be? The answer to that’s not up to me. It’s not up to any mother.

David’s mother had no idea he’d be king. God never told her. She and her husband underestimated him, figuring he’d shepherd sheep all his life. But as the shepherd of a nation, King David wrote of the Lord…

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16, NIV

There’s only One who knows a child’s end from his beginning and it isn’t you or me.

That sentence stings, countering everything you and I believe to be true. Because we’re the ones with the keen insight, the wise advice and the perfect sized band-aid for every boo boo. The ones who make it all better.

And facing the reality that it’s only true for a time, and to a small degree, is a tough pill to swallow and a good place to pause for today.


IF you found this post helpful, you’ll also enjoy reading Mommy to the Rescue.

VANESSA A. HARRIS is a blogger and the author of DADDY’s Girl Forever and its devotional.  She’s a physician turned stay at home mom, who’s never lost her NY wit.  She needs it for the three inventive children she raises in Texas with her husband, Mark.

3 thoughts on “Raising Teenagers Feels a Lot like Beat the Clock (Part 1)

  1. I’m standing in my kitchen, in tears, thanking God because He knew I needed to meet you at Blog Elevated so I could come across your blog and read this tonight. He is such a good Father! ❤️ My kids are 12 and 8 and I feel so inadequate and like I always fall short. But He has always been with us, strengthening, providing and guiding in MIRACULOUS ways. Why do we ever doubt or wonder about His love or struggle with our identity? He is all we need! And He’s taking care of our babies better than we could ever ask. I’m thankful for that tonight!

    1. Aww Coppelia! You have no idea how it blesses me to hear that this touched you.

      We moms take on too much responsibility and we need to remind each other God’s a good, good Father and He’s taking great care of us and our babies!

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