When you were in high school, was there ever a time when you felt truly seen by an adult? Didn’t that moment feel incredible? Teenagers get a bad rap for being stinky, eye-roll-y strangers in the house, but, like reader Meghan said, “they’re desperate to connect and know they matter.” Here are 11 brilliant reader comments on parenting teens…

On enjoying the dynamics:

“I have three boys — 16, 14 and 6. Oh, my goodness. My baby is my heart, but my teenage boys are my soul. They are such genuinely lovely people to be around. Yes, they are messy. And sometimes moody. And I can barely hear them half the time. But they will linger and chat for half an hour after dinner. And they are usually down with a Target run. And we can finally watch decent movies together!” — Emily

“For me, ages 6-12 were what I imagined before having kids: sharing games and books, short bedtime routines, not many tantrums. But I wouldn’t trade a single day of my fascinating, emotional, smart teenagers. My theory is that teen-dom is the toddlerhood of being an adult (‘This is the feeling you’re feeling and the appropriate way to express it!’ ‘Is that what you’re wearing today?’ ‘Do not put that in your mouth!’) It takes the same parenting skills you built up during the first toddlerhood, with similar teeth-gritting frustrations and immense joys. It feels deep and real and important, and I love it.” — Midge

On navigating rough patches:

“When I was 17, I was talking to some girls on a school camping trip, and I realized everyone had equally miserable relationships with their moms when they were 14 and 15. Those years were awful! I remember so many car rides with my head turned sharply away from my mom, looking out the window because we just could not talk pleasantly to each other. But you will come out of it at the other end. Just know that everyone is going through a version of it.” — Mina

“There will come a day when you are dropping your teenager off at school and he/she is in a huff about something that you think is ridiculous. They are thinking, ‘How could you do this to me?’ and you are thinking, ‘Are you serious right now?’ Before you call them an ungrateful [insert name], stop and take a breath. This has nothing to do with you. They’re in the process of developing their own lives/world/universe. It will be so much easier for them if your love remains steady. So, just smile and tell them you love them and to have a good day. Followed by ‘ungrateful (insert name)’ silently to yourself.” — Andrea

On bonding opportunities:

“Go thrifting with teens! I have boys who are 14 and 16, and it’s our favorite activity to do together. Their love of ‘90s fashion is mind-boggling, but it’s a place we can easily connect. It’s such fun watching them become truly themselves.” — Emily

“Every holiday, my teen makes me a Spotify playlist of her recent favorite songs. And it is amazing how much more conversation you can have with your kid once you understand and enjoy their musical preferences! Next time they ask what gift you’d like, ask them to design a playlist for you. They will love the creative aspect and the fact that you are interested in their ‘culture.’ Also, the music is great.” — Irene

“My teen is definitely at that argumentative stage. But when I get home late from work, I always ask if he wants to watch a show together and he always says yes. Then I make dumb jokes while he rolls his eyes, and I realize that I have become my father. Your teen is like the popular kid at school who rarely acknowledges your existence. So, when they do, you try too hard!” — Vicki

On words that change everything:

“As an aunty, I would offer the advice: deliberately choose them. ‘There’s MY guy, how have you been?’ ‘WE both have a sweet tooth.’ ‘I love it when WE cook together.’ The teenage years are full of anxiety about belonging with their peers, so make it clear they have that with you. They’ll sometimes roll their eyes, but if you stick with it, you’ll be golden. Everyone wants to be chosen.” — Tracey

“When I was a teen, I remember hearing so much negativity about my age group. I mentioned this to my mom and her response was, ‘I love teenagers, I think they’re great. I think you’re great, and I think your friends are great.’ Knowing I had acceptance and was still lovable made a big difference during those angsty years.” — Bethany

On growing up:

“Last year, I realized I was running out of kitchen door against which to measure my teenage son’s height. It stands at six feet three inches, and now so does he. We have come full circle: I think back to those small starfish palms flung out above his head when he slept in his crib — they are now large enough to completely encompass my own. I remember the laughter as his toddler feet flapped around in my shoes — I can now slip my entire foot, complete with shoe, inside his trainers, and it’s me who looks like the clown. But if we got this far, I know that it’s a job well done.” — MW

“Don’t fret about them growing up. As they do more on their own, celebrate it! You’re raising a human! They are wonderful, beautiful balls of magic! There they are walking! Playing soccer! Graduating from high school! Now you can train for your hike of the El Camino and have a cold beer while lying in the grass while you talk to your child on the phone about the luscious full life they are living.” — Jo

What would you add? We’d love to hear…

P.S. More on teenagers, including 16 genius comments on parenting teenagers and completely subjective rules for raising teen boys and teen girls.

(Photo by Guille Faingold/Stocksy.)