Carrie Yamato

There used to be a time, not too long ago, when my daughter would beg me to watch TV with her or just lay with her in bed.

Now, our bonding time comes only when she’s waiting for a text to come in, needs my help to find something she has lost, or between bites of food before she’s off to tackle her homework.

I get it. The life of a teenager is busy and stressful.

She has school, she has her extra-curricular activities, and she has her friend group with all the fun and drama that goes along with it.

But, hearing the constant whines of, “Mom, not now! I’m too busy! Don’t worry about it!” gets a little annoying, and do I dare say hurtful, especially when my questions pertain to something that benefits her — as in, “Can you tell me what Halloween costume you want me to order today? Otherwise it won’t be delivered on time.”

I hear it’s all part of normal development called separation and individuation. Going against it, say experts, only creates tension and stress in the household. But, I think it could put our teens on a path to where we’ll be doing their laundry and cooking for them forever. 

Still, when I see articles such as “British Parents Spend Less Than 30 Minutes of Quality Time With Their Children,” it’s hard for me to believe that it’s healthy or the norm that we should accept. 

The article also released results from a recent poll that showed:

  • 42 percent of youngsters would rather binge television shows than hang out with their parents

  • 39 percent of teens would rather play video games than spend time with their  family.

  • 37 percent of parents find it difficult to have a conversation with their children as more than a third of kids prefer to spend time in their bedroom alone.

As a result of these preferred activities, parents can only manage half an hour of quality time with their children compared to the 75 minutes a day they spend communicating with their friends through social media.

I’m not going to do the math. But if I did, I’m sure we’d all be surprised at the minimum number of hours required to raise teen. 

As my daughter turns 14, I realize that I have just entered the world of the great teen time war, and that as much as I would love to lay in bed with her and just laugh at the funny things we’ve done throughout the day, those days will become far and even fewer between as she heads on to high school.

My friends with older children tell me to relax because it all works out in the end.

After all the disagreements and trials and tribulations of independence, teens all come back after college more agreeable and appreciative.

So, in the meantime, I should find something to do, let her figure things out herself and make the most of the time — which I guess is 30 minutes — I get to spend with her each day.

It’s an adjustment that I never really anticipated, but this year it will be one of my birthday gifts to her, that hopefully we will all enjoy.

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