Teen Regression Is the Worst, Mom Says

If you don't look at your lovely teens daily and wonder where you went wrong and how all of your hard work simply flew the coop as soon as you felt like you were making some huge progress, please my parenting friend, show me your ways.

teen playing guitar in extremely messy bedroom

Photo by Getty Images

Photo by Getty Images

Parent of teens, are you children making you feel as if everything you have ever taught them has escaped their minds? I know my kids were more aware and picked up after themselves a lot better during their toddler years than they do now as budding adults.

I am not exaggerating when I say it’s an even a bigger problem now than it was in their younger years. Also, I am a lot more frustrated with certain behaviors since my kids are all taller than me and should just know better since I’ve shed so many tears and even more blood on these teachings.

I have the scars on my knees from falling over the lacrosse gear they left outside of the bathroom to prove it. Stepping on a Lego has nothing on that kind of injury.

So, do our teens have a spell when they regress? Science says yes, and by looking around this place and watching my kids, it sure seems like they do:

Their rooms
We spend so long teaching them how to clean and pick stuff up when they are younger because it's a necessary life skill and important to keep other people in the house safe. My children went from having semi-clean rooms to keeping their space looking like a crime scene.

My son doesn't sleep with sheets and prefers a blanket thrown on his mattress. There are petrified banana peels on his dresser and exactly five Snapple bottles lining his bed. He keeps his socks under his bed because they are "easier to find that way" and has zero desire to pick up the loose change that's scattered all over his floor.

When he was younger, he'd love to line up his stuffed animals on his bed and knew clothes belonged in the dresser, not on the floor. He wasn't a neat freak by a long stretch, but I'm pretty sure sleeping on a bare mattress with banana peels rotting by his head would have deeply disturbed him and haunted his dreams.

Now, he sees nothing. Not even the tuna-crusted bowl and fork sitting on the trunk at the end of his bed. If that hot mess doesn't motivate him to clean his room, nothing I say will get him to do it. Lord knows I’m not going to do it for him so I'll just have to white-knuckle it until he can't handle it any longer.

The backtalk
We've all torn our hair out teaching them how to be respectful. That first public tantrum is a doozie and no-one of want to raise "that" kid. You know, the one we think is so naughty, out of control, and there must be something their parents are missing so we judge them before we've had kids ourselves?

We soon realize having a child who responds to every command is out of the question, and we do our very best usually getting semi-good results after a few years of teaching them self-control. If they do as they are told they may be rewarded, and cooperation usually makes for a much better day all around.

As soon as puberty hits, it can feel like their toddler souls have kidnapped their body because they are so disagreeable about everything, even if they know it will greatly improve their lives.

Some days I feel like I could I offer my kids a pocket full of diamonds if they could just go a day without talking back, and even that wouldn't work.

I've tried it all—taking away their phones and friend time, and having long talks about how they need to treat me with more respect and not simply disagree with me for the sake of being contrarian. I like to remind them that I know more than them, and that I’m tired of reminding them to stop giving me 10 excuses as to why they can't take out the trash.

You'd think the excuses would be more work but apparently by the things my kids muster up, I am wrong.

Their manners
We were out to dinner the other night and my youngest started eating noodles with his fingers because he enjoys tilting his head back and letting them dangle on the back of his throat.

The times I've had to remind them to say please and thank you in the past month outnumbers all the times I had to remind them when they younger and just learning the respectful way to treat waitstaff and the hairdresser, not to mention family members who bring them gifts on their birthday.

Apparently burping after gulping a soda while you are still in the fast food line waiting for your fries is the new cool (and best way to make your mother lose it on you in front of your friends), and there's no need to close the bathroom door when you pee because it's "too much work."

If you don't look at your lovely teens daily and wonder where you went wrong and how all of your hard work simply flew the coop as soon as you felt like you were making some huge progress, please my parenting friend, show me your ways.

In the meantime, I'll be over here trying not to gag when I walk by my kids' rooms and recording instructions on how to say "please" and, "thank you" so I don't have to say it so many times I lose my voice.