Why I Love Teenagers

By Kate Riley July 31, 2017

I’ve been in and out of airports all month. First to Las Vegas to work on the flip house, then to Atlanta for the Haven Conference, then to Savannah to visit my brother’s family, and I just got back from Boise, Idaho late last night. It’s been a lot of traveling, it’s exhausting but I love it.

One of the most relaxing days I spent with my brother’s family. My nephews are 17 and 15 and my niece is 14. I love them so much. We spent a day roaming around Savannah and then spent an afternoon at Tybee Island, and it was one of the best days I’ve had all year.

I was thinking about it on the flight home, why was that day so enjoyable? Sure it’s nice to have a change of scenery and spend a day at the beach, but mostly it was hanging out with those teenagers.

I think teenagers get a bad rap. I heard it a lot when my own kids (now 11 and 13) were young. “Just wait till they’re teenagers.” Yes I’ve heard and seen stories of teens messing up in so many ways. I did too, so did my siblings. We’ve all known some bad apples. But my experience with teenagers so far? It’s been really great.

My 17 year old nephew just graduated from high school. He managed to get a year of college credits under his belt, he is dating a lovely young lady, and in the fall he is headed to nursing school. He is intelligent, witty, thoughtful, and has a great sense of humor.

My 15 year old nephew is super tech savvy. He has his own YouTube channel and in just a few hours taught me the basics of how to use Adobe Premier for making videos. (Yes, videos are coming to this site soon!). He is extremely creative and he lives in the moment and he makes me laugh with his crazy jokes.

My 14 year old niece is the loveliest person. She is curious about the world but hip to what’s happening in it. She has a beautiful heart and wants to work with special needs kids someday.

My 13 year old daughter is confident and funny. She has a passion for baking and theater and new adventures. She’s always sharing amusing memes with me or making me take silly pictures with her.

My stepdaughter is 25 now, but I remember her teenage years with fondness as well. Her friends were always coming over and always hungry, so I was always happy I remembered to grab a few frozen pizzas and extra drinks knowing they’d descend on the house at any moment. Teens come in and out of your home at all hours, their lives filled with school and activities and social events, and it’s the best when they come home and sit with you and tell you stories about their day.

Today’s teens are so savvy with technology, but I loved seeing that my nephews and niece were not always on their phones. On our family’s ride out to the beach, we shared jokes and stories instead of silently scrolling through phones. During our meals at the restaurant, we would had conversations about food and movies with no phones. I found it so refreshing to experience teenagers demonstrating real etiquette in this world where it seems so many millennials spend every waking hour taking selfies and sharing every.single.moment of their lives on social media. Funny that my nephew was on his phone when the above picture was taken, but he was talking to his grandmother so he gets a pass :)

It saddens me to read about so much bullying among teens or the stories about teen suicide. When these issues come up I treat them as an opportunity for real world discussion about depression, substance abuse, etc. These are hard issues but necessary topics to tackle.

I love teenagers because they are blossoming real people with thoughts, ideas, dreams, goals, passions. I listen to the way they talk about everything in the world and in their world. I find them funny and interesting and doing so make me feel connected to the younger generation. I see them as young adults, still learning and growing, not always having the best judgment or sense, but watching them navigate the world brings me joy.

They are the next generation. They need our support and to know we believe in them. They need a safe place to land after they’ve spent their day standing up for themselves in this world. They need to know we will always be there for them even when they mess up. They need us on the sidelines, always cheering for them.

To those of you who have small children, don’t panic. Give them a good foundation of love and encouragement. Listen to them, guide them, and call them out when they’re acting like jerks. If there is good groundwork when they are young, they will bloom into amazing people. Just watch.

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37 comments

  1. This made me cry. My girls are 10 and 13 and I feel this way. They have a fresh set of eyes and such beautiful dreams. Even with the tough days of having teenagers (preteens), I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
    Glad you are home safely after such a whirlwind month.

  2. I love this post! My son is 15 and so so funny. Our house is the hang out house and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My son has a fabulous, eclectic group of friends with diverse interests. I always learn something new when they visit. I think the key to being “the house” is that I have a rolling cart I keep filled with snacks and the boys know where the drinks are kept in the fridge. But most importantly I am always happy to see them and greet them with a pat on the shoulder. One young visitor once said, “I love coming here because you make me feel special.” You just never know when you might be making a difference in someone’s life and really, it takes such little effort.

    • what an insightful perspective Laura, thank you for sharing. It gets costly for food being “the house” but isn’t it great? How amazing that a young person recognized how special it was to come to your home. :)

  3. Kate, Thanks for your insights and your blog. I rarely comment here, but just wanted you to know that I love what you do professionally and love your insights-especially today’s.

  4. I didn’t enjoy my kids friends when they were in preschool and elementary, but I love having a house full of teenagers. I love hearing the way they think and love their senses of humor. Thank you for recognizing them for their strengths.

    • ha ha preschool and elementary was challenging too! yes I adore teens sense of humor so much.

  5. Wonderful post today on teenagers! I have a 20 year old son entering his junior year in college in a few short weeks. We developed an everlasting bond during his teenage years. He has always been a delightful son but he truly blossomed into a heartfelt, thoughtful son during his teens. BTW, it just gets better and better!

  6. Wonderful post! Some of my best memories are from my band/color guard mom days. I loved being with the kids and chaperoning bus trips to their competitions—and even 12-hour rides for big trips to Toronto and DC. Some of their parents have become my dearest friends, and, years after graduation, I still get the sweetest feeling when they call me Mama Blakey!

  7. This is great! What a positive post to send out into the world. I’ve followed you for years now and I think you have a gift at looking for the good, especially in people. Thanks for sharing!

  8. My daughter just turned 15 and I am really enjoying this season of life. It is such a great source of joy watching her become her own person and how she views the world. Her wisdom at 15 is astonishing to me as I still feel like I don’t have it all figured out. I love the more mature conversations we can have. We most definitely butt heads, but my husband and I have really lucked out with her. Our second will be 13 next year and she has a completely different personality from our first, so it will be fun to watch her blossom too.

  9. Kate, very inspiring.

    Did I tell you that I appreciate how well you write? There are many bloggers out there who can’t even spell nor check their grammar.

    Anyway, you’re still my fave!

  10. Thank you for this post! I need to make my husband read it :) Our 4 kids range from 6 down to nearly-born so we won’t be there for a few years yet, but my husband is very scared of the teenage years – I am trying to be more optimistic! I hope to be the “hang out house” too and that’s why a second (and possibly third) living room (basement and/or bonus room) is on my must have list when buying our next home. Space and food should do it, right? :)

    • Yep that’s all they need, a hang out space and lots of snacks! The combination is a teen magnet :)

  11. I never comment, but had to thank you for this post. We have a 16-year-old daughter. I worried so much about middle school and high school, based on everything you hear. But I have enjoyed these years so much, and find myself very frustrated with all the negative press. Kids today are so much more together, sophisticated, and mature (but still as goofy and idealistic) than my age group! I’m so happy to hear something lovely and positive. I tell my daughter that she will change the world, it’s up to her whether it’s a good change or a bad one. These kids give me hope.

  12. I love this! In my church I head the teen girls organization, and I’m constantly impressed with their class, courage, and kindness. They are amazing young women who are driven and motivated! Despite their very different social groups at school, they all get along and support one another. That doesn’t just come naturally, but they make it seem effortless. I’m so grateful to see the plus sides of teenagers.

    • Isn’t it great to see them encourage and support each other too? Love that! We’re teaching our girls right!

  13. Unfortunately it is not only Millenials that behave badly. One can understand that they are still learning and growing. Some are incredible and some not. It is the adults that have no excuse. I love being with young people as well. Great post and glad you had such a nice time. Great looking family.

  14. Thanks for this post! My kids are 11 (12 in a few months) and 10. You hear so many terrible things about the teen years it was actually starting to make me nervous. I’m glad to read a fresh perspective!!

  15. Thank you for such a positive refreshing post about the teenagers in your family. They sound like a neat inspiring group of kids.
    On a side note, we love going to Tybee and Savannah.
    Were you able to check out any neat shops in Savannah like the Paris Market?
    Enjoy reading all of your posts!

    • Thanks Christy, and yes we walked all around River Street and through the historic district, it was my second time so I got to see even more, so lovely!

  16. Amen Kate! I have two girls, 11 and 13 and they are just SO much fun, so funny, sharp and honestly, I love spending time with them – much more so then when they were toddlers. Am I the only parent who thought the pre-school years were, yes, physically exhausting but also mind-numbingly boring?! (God I don’t miss playing blocks!) I enjoy them so much now. And to everyone talking about the ‘drama’ of teen girls… sometimes yes, but I also raised them to not hook-in to a lot of the drama. As a result, they have a great group of down-to-earth friends. Couldn’t agree with your post more!

  17. Love this so much and I couldn’t agree more. My son just turned 18 and is heading off to college soon. (*welp*) I have thoroughly enjoyed his teenage years and the friends around him. Sometimes I would think..’Man, kids these days really seem to have it more together than we did.’ They are smart, talented, and kind. Sometimes they do get a bad rap!

  18. Kate,
    I am a frequent reader and never comment, but I so appreciate your positive words on this important topic. Our children are 20, 17, and 15, and I’m shocked at the barrage of negative comments directed their way, simply b/c of their ages. They are good kids, loving and caring about other people, and I love hearing someone being positive about this upcoming generation. It’s filled with a lot of wonderful people!

  19. I haven’t read your blog in awhile (I used to read every single post but life just got busy). This morning I thought to come take a look and this is EXACTLY what I needed to hear. Funny how that works, isn’t it?! I have two pre-teens and have been mourning the loss of their young selves and coming of the teenage years. Your post brings me so such a fresh perspective compared to the constant stories and news I usually hear about the negatives of teenagers. Clearly, I need to be back to reading you regularly! Thank you!

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