I am the mom of two teenagers and one tween. To say we are floating in a sea of teenage hormones would be pretty accurate on most days. The mood swings, the food consumption, the sleeping, the not sleeping, the mess, the smells, the hour-long showers, the attitudes, the mountains of dirty laundry — it’s a lot.
Some days I long for puberty to be over. Other days I love hanging out with these new almost-adults who live with me. But, the overwhelming prevalent feeling for the last few years is of a roller coaster. You never know what you’re going to get from moment-to-moment, so you hang on and try desperately to enjoy the ride while not throwing up.
The Different Faces of the Hormonal Teenager
For the last few years, my husband and I have learned to be prepared for any type of reaction from our teenagers. One moment they are talking 90-miles-a-minute telling us about everything that has happened while simultaneously dancing around the room to the next moment falling dramatically onto the couch claiming that they hate life and nothing is fair.
The mood swings are lightning fast, and they are dramatic. We never really know what is going to create a swing, but we have learned to be careful about certain subjects.
Never ask a teenage girl about her outfit or her makeup. Do not ask if she brushed her hair or if she is going for a Cleopatra look. Never remark on her shoes good or bad. And, please, for the love of all that is good do not comment on how much she has eaten that day… even if the refrigerator now stands empty.
Likewise, don’t ask a boy about his girlfriend. Do not ask what he might like to do with his life after he graduates. Don’t interrupt a really important PS4 tournament and absolutely never ask what the smell is coming out from under his bed.
These are questions you don’t really want answers to. I mean do you really want to know that he has plans to play video games into his 30’s while he makes his fortune on YouTube? And, do you really want to see her dramatic wing eyeliner suddenly become a teary streak down her face as she runs to her room screaming that everyone thinks she’s fat?
No. No, you do not.
These are subjects you need to have predefined before you step into the world of the teenager. And this is IF, and I mean IF, they actually answer you. Most days you should feel good if you get a slight shrug or a non-committal “I don’t know.”
The Moments That Throw You Off Your Game
But, on occasion — rarely — there will be moments of beautiful revelations. That sweet little boy will emerge from his cocoon momentarily to give you a peek into what he will be like as an adult. He will sit down next to you as you work and tell you about his classes and what he thinks might be a good career choice (after he makes his millions playing video games, of course). You will stay seated in your chair at your desk afraid to make any sudden movements. You’ll turn slightly toward him (not all the way) and start to nod and comment briefly so that he knows you are giving him your attention, but not trying to dictate his decisions.
And some days she will walk up to you and give you a hug for no reason. She will say “I love you, Mommy” like she did when she was younger. You will rub her back and tell her that you love her, too, but not emphatically. You’ll find that sweet spot between sharing a heartfelt emotion and a sappy mom-hug. The hug will continue until she decides it’s over and then you will step back and act like it’s an everyday occurrence and complain about the allergies that have suddenly attacked you.
In these moments, you will cherish every single second. And, I say second, because they don’t last long before those same kids are stomping up the stairs dropping laundry and food wrappers along the way and complaining about having to be up for class at 10 o’clock. These are the moments you live for. These are the moments that throw you off your game, so you’re not prepared when the next hormone surge hits and the mood shifts.
Homeschooling While Living Through Teenage Hormones
So, how do you continue homeschooling in the midst of teenage hormones? Well, that’s where things get tricky. You have options, and as a family, you have to decide what option is best for you.
When my son reached the hormonal overload, he was a junior in high school. He was taking dual enrollment classes and commuting from the college to work to baseball back home to start the whole thing over again the next day. He was rarely at home, and when he was, it was to hibernate in his room. Then he went to college and was gone from our house for weeks at a time. When his hormones hit the peak he wasn’t living with us and homeschooling wasn’t an issue.
My daughter, however, was a bit earlier (as I learned most girls are). The teenage hormones hit her in middle school. They hit hard and swift and knocked us all over with their ferocity. As a family (one that liked a little bit of sanity), we decided that her request to attend the local private school was reasonable and safer for all concerned. This was NOT an easy decision for me. In fact, I had a hard time accepting it (just ask her teachers at that first parent-teacher meeting). But, it was the right decision at the time.
I’m not advocating sending all teenagers to school to let someone else deal with them. But, what I AM saying is that you can’t make a decision about a situation you aren’t in. So claiming your child will never [fill in the blank] will only end up in you eating your words. The truth is that my kids have not reacted to the teen years the way I did and not the same way my husband did either. We had no basis in which to determine how we would react to these years and have had to navigate them learning as we go.
Will my next child go into the school system? I don’t know. For now, she is determined to always homeschool. But, as she is becoming more independent and slightly hormonal, I’ve started making adjustments. She has more free time to do her studies independently. I don’t make her sit with me for all her subjects, just the ones I know she needs a little extra instruction. I’m letting her help me determine what her homeschool looks like and for now, it seems to be working.
Will she eventually lose her ever-loving mind? Probably, but I’m experienced now. I won’t ask about her choice of shoes.
Advice from Other Homeschool Moms Dealing with Teenage Hormones
I would love to tell you that parenting a blossoming adult is easy, but in my experience, it is not. So, I’ve given you the only advice I know — the advice of my years of not only living with teenagers but teaching them (in a former life I was a high school teacher). As I thought about this article, I wondered what other moms might say about homeschooling their teens.
So, here is some sage advice from some veteran homeschoolers. These mamas have been in the trenches, some still are, and this is their real-world advice to you. They have come out on the other side, and they lived to tell the tale.
How to Homeschool in the Midst of the Hard Things Series
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Hi, I’m Dachelle. I’m a homeschooling mom of 3 in the South. I love chocolate and have been known to hide it from my children. I can often be found reading a good book (or even sometimes just an okay book) and enjoying a jar of Nutella — don’t judge. I blog, here, at HideTheChocolate.com when I’m not creating book clubs and making lists…lots and lots of lists (it’s an addiction). Learn more…