Teenagers Are Harder Than Toddlers

My heart aches and my spirit has been battered and bruised.

There is a teenager down the hall that opened a door better left closed and has gotten sucked into a vortex of nonsense that was beyond his control.

Been doing all that I can to help him figure it out so that we can find our way back to the sunny side of the street but success has eluded us.

If there is a mark or moment of pain in a parent’s life it must be centered upon the moment they see their child struggling with something that seems beyond their grasp.

That is the moment I stumbled upon a short while ago but I didn’t recognize it as such and though I know better than to beat myself up over an oversight I cannot help but question myself.

A father is supposed to have the all knowing and all seeing eye. He is supposed to be vigilant, present and aware but apparently I let my eyes wander elsewhere.


I have long prided myself upon my ability to imitate the Oak trees ability to stay standing in both sunlight and rain.

The secret to successfully withstanding storms doesn’t lie in my size 12 EEE boot but by knowing when to bend with the accompanying winds.

It is in figuring out how to make the strength of the storm work for or with and not against you.

And though I would like to say this has always been my approach the reality is far different.

There have been ample times where I stood in the center of the clearing and screamed at the sky, “is that the best you have got.”

Blame some of it upon youth and my own desire to prove myself. Blame it upon my vision of my father as having superhuman qualities and my desire/need to show him and I that inherited those items too.

And then look at my current approach as having been derived from the wisdom and maturity that comes with age.

When I recognized and realized it wasn’t necessary to fight the storm every time I stopped doing so and started taking advantage of what I had learned.


What I fear is that the teenager has inherited his father’s stubbornness and desire to test himself. What I fear is that the teenager is going to be as dumb about this as I might have been at his age.

Though I am technically not responsible for the choices that have been made I still feel accountable.

I still feel responsible for helping the willfully blind to see how these choices are wreaking havoc upon the current moment and how they can impact the future.

And I do all this while trying to balance my thoughts and fears against Ben Franklin’s advice.

Because there is time and opportunity to turn and sail with the wind instead of against it.


Teenage Awareness

What I haven’t figured out yet is where the aforementioned teenager is fully cognizant of what is going on.

Do they understand the consequences of opening Pandora’s Box?

Do they recognize the impact upon the rest of the family?

Against the overall picture these things are immaterial and irrelevant because what is done cannot be ignored or rolled back in time.

The horse left the barn and this wild stallion is a mighty beast who won’t be tamed or walked back without significant effort.

And here is where my guilt raises its head again and the whispers in my mind start flowing.

“If you had done XYZ you might have prevented this or headed it off.”

“Maybe you should have taken it more seriously earlier and not allowed the beast to get a head of steam.”

So I look at the reflection in the mirror and remind the face that stares back at my own that if I was prescient and or clairvoyant we’d have won the lottery and would be living a different sort of life.

I also would have made several other choices but I am not prescient or clairvoyant so there is no point in crying about what could have or should have been.

There is no time for self-pity or whining, only for taking care of the current situation.

Chances are the teenager didn’t take time to think things through and didn’t consider what happens when the wind starts blowing right after you have torn open the feather pillow.

Teenagers Are Harder Than Toddlers

Some of you with young children might feel like arguing the point because physical exhaustion doesn’t allow you to think clearly.

You might see parenting teenagers as being easier because some of the fears you have about toddlers and infants don’t seem to exist anymore.

I am here to tell you that toddlers and infants are easier because physical exhaustion is easier than mental.

And yes, there is an ample amount of mental exhaustion that comes with bigger children.

Doesn’t matter if they follow the so-called straight and narrow and are good students and people.

You can’t help but be concerned about bigger issues like teenage driving, sex, drugs and a million other issues that you have less control over.

That is what it is, control.

Because teenagers do much more outside of their parents supervision and though that is precisely as it should be it doesn’t eliminate concern or worry.

This Too Shall Pass

It will, it really will.

One day this will be a moment in time but for now it feels like the only moment.

For now it feels like I am fighting the damn storm the way I did when I was much younger but I haven’t got that 25 year-old body anymore and I am bone weary.

The aches and bruises don’t fade as fast and physically and mentally this is hard.

However the one thing I have that I didn’t then is a mental toughness that will not let me down. I’ll find a way to help this kid stop tripping over his own feet.

But fuck…this isn’t easy.


  1. Kristen March 20, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    I am so not looking forward to the teenage years. I’m sorry you are having a rough go. As you said, this too shall pass, good luck finding the light.

  2. Renee McKinley March 19, 2016 at 6:23 am

    I agree. Teenagers are way harder than than their younger selves. Hang in there Jack. I know you’ll get through, maybe a little wind blown and weary, just remember to take a deep breath when you reach the other side. Good luck.

  3. Danny Brown March 19, 2016 at 5:59 am

    “Physical exhaustion is easier than mental exhaustion.”

    Man, isn’t that the truth. As you know, mate, I have two young ones, 4 and 6, and while they can be a handful, at least I know it’s the natural curiosity and energy of toddlerdom, and that they’re becoming the people they’ll grow into.

    Is it tiring? Yes. But I can nap while they watch TV or play games beside me. Could I nap when they need me emotionally? Hell no. And that’s the game-changer right there.

    Sorry to hear about your kid, mate. But at least he has the wisdom of an Oak to call upon. That’s as good a place to start as any.

    • Jack Steiner March 19, 2016 at 11:13 pm

      Been thinking about this off and on all day long. Four and six are great ages and sometimes I miss those days because the kids really did see me as superman.

      It is not so much ego as my wanting a simple answer and thinking that maybe my guy might choose to listen more carefully to me.

      And sometimes I miss the pure joy and energy that radiates from little ones who don’t give a damn about what people think or whether it is possible or not.

      There is such beauty in all that.

      But I do appreciate not having to worry about babysitters and being able to have some very mature discussions about life that I couldn’t have then.

      Now I just have to figure out how to take that wisdom and pound it into his head. 🙂

  4. Gina March 18, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    Ugh! I feel ya! I’ve said it before, “Little kids, little problems…”

    It will all be okay.

    • Jack Steiner March 19, 2016 at 10:27 am

      Hi Gina,

      I do appreciate all of that and the it will be ok is meaningful too, no snark. I remind myself of it but it is good to hear from those who have done it all already.

  5. Kenya G. Johnson March 18, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    This too shall pass – passed with me and my dad. No one would ever believe that once upon a time we didn’t like each other very much. I’ll have to remember that if and when my time comes. But for now, I’m going to “Keep in the Sunlight.”

  6. Larry March 18, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    I hope Steiner the Minor is okay. I hope he can use whatever the issue as a a way to grow.

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