Mothering a teenager is a lonely job. Moms are busy people with lots of responsibilities outside of their kids' lives, so they don't always have time to connect with others who are going through similar things. Their kids are also becoming more independent and relying on them less. This is a big adjustment that leaves many moms feeling incredibly isolated.
Their kids are moving away from them, but they’re still supposed to be involved in the kids’ upbringing and know how to do it well. It’s sort of assumed that if your kid’s a teenager then you’ve figured out this whole mothering thing and are doing fine on your own. So it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a lot of support.
Many times that’s not true, though. As the kids grow, so do their problems. The stakes of their decisions get higher. The kids have more independence, but parents are still responsible for the results of their choices. And no one teaches you how to have the hard conversations. So when things do go wrong, you think everyone else has a handle on it and that you alone are failing.
Our St. Louis therapists have outlined some of the main factors that make it so isolating to be the mom of a teenager:
1. Relationships With Your Kids Change:
One of the major shifts that causes so much isolation for mothers of teenagers is the way their relationships with their kids change. As teenagers begin asserting their independence and exploring their own personal identity, they may push away from parents and seek out friendships instead. While this is a normal part of development, it can be sad not to feel as needed.
Their world is rapidly expanding, and as their mom, you may feel like you are no longer their primary source of support and comfort. This can leave you feeling isolated and disconnected from your kid’s life. Your family system is changing and there are no instructions for how to cope with this change—a change that feels a lot like loss.
2. Moms Fear Judgment:
Judgment is a common fear. But moms of teenagers feel it from all sides, which can isolate them from both their families and communities. Moms often don’t want to be vulnerable at home because they worry about what their kids think of them, at a time when that relationship is already changing.
They keep quiet about their struggles and try to be perfect, thinking they need to look strong or unshakable. This means they can’t open up at home about how they’re doing or what they’re feeling.
This would make anyone feel unseen.
3. The Big Conversations Are Hard:
Many moms don’t know how to talk about the hard topics like drugs, drinking, sex, or sneaking out. They know it’s their job as parents, but no one gives you a manual when your kid turns 13 to tell you what to say and when.
Pretty much all parents experience this self-doubt, but they assume everyone else did actually get the manual and is doing great. They think they’re the only one struggling.
There are big consequences for failing at this part of parenting, too. If you make a mistake and your kid causes trouble you might take blame from the community for not parenting correctly. And you might drive your kid away if you don’t have the conversation in the right way with them.
There’s a big risk of loss at this stage, and that fear keeps a lot of moms on edge. They must stay focused on walking the tightropes of these conversations and that doesn’t leave much energy for anything else.
4. Moms Get Isolated From Other People:
It's hard to go out with friends when you're worried about your teenager coming home late or skipping school, or whether they're doing drugs or drinking alcohol. You might be too embarrassed to tell anyone how difficult things are at home right now because your child is acting out in ways that seem unreasonable or embarrassing--like stealing money or getting caught having sex. And that leaves a lot of topics unavailable for conversation. This can make outings hard.
Your friends and family probably try to support you, but it's hard for them to understand what you're going through because they just aren’t dealing with the same life stage as you. They might have some experience with teenagers, but unless they are raising them at the same time, things will be different.
Honestly, even if you’re both raising teenagers together, kids develop such unique personalities at that age that it will still feel like a completely alien experience to both of you.
As your kids get older you also lose the connection with other parents. When your child was younger, you might have met other moms at school events or you could have gone to other houses so the kids could play while you chatted with their parents.
But as your little kid turns into a teenager, especially once they start driving, they may prefer to spend more time doing other things that don’t require your involvement. This means you could drift away from the friends you made when your kids were smaller and had a bigger circle that included you.
As a mom of a teenager, it’s easy to feel alone and isolated. Your relationships with your kids are changing rapidly, you’re not as needed on a daily basis, and your kids want more autonomy and space. This can really make you feel unbalanced and like you don’t have a solid understanding of your own identity as a mom.
With help you can re-discover your identity, even from inside the chaos.
You can fight against your feelings of instability and isolation by seeking help and support to navigate the situation. If you think you need to talk to someone about the changes in your life, or your challenges as a mom, you can reach out to a therapist at Marble Wellness.
Our therapists in St. Louis specialize in therapy for moms and are ready to hold a completely non-judgmental space for you, where you can talk about any of your hopes and anxieties. So, if you want to find this kind of support, contact us at Marble Wellness and we will pair you with a therapist who will help you navigate through, and thrive in, this new life stage.
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Our St. Louis team of therapists have a variety of training backgrounds and areas of expertise. We specialize in anxiety, depression, grief, chronic illness, therapy for men, couples, and maternal overwhelm. We can also help new moms with various postpartum concerns, moms in the thick of parenting, and moms with teens. We can also chat from wherever you are in the state with online therapy in Missouri and online therapy in Illinois. No matter where you are in your journey, we would love to support you.
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