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Navigating the Pitfalls and Privileges of Parenting Teenagers: Embracing the Role of the 'Cool Mom'

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

Recently I was driving the car full of smelly teenage girls home from hockey practice, and one of my daughter's friends called me a cool mom. The statement made me giddy but curious about what that meant.At first, I was like, OMG, best day ever, and then another part of me thought, please God, don't let them describe me as June George (Regina's self-proclaimed cool mom ) from Mean Girls. Don't get me wrong, Amy Poehler was iconic in that role, and June was a doting mom, but I also feel like she was a little desperate, and that thought was playing on repeat in my head. Later when it was my daughter and I in the car, I asked her what her friends meant when they called me the “cool mom,” and she responded “I don’t know, I gu ss use we can tell you anything, and you don’t get mad.”

The fantastic statement sent me down the rabbit hole that is Google, trying to figure out if what the kids said was positive or negative. In my mind, all I could think was, have I created a space where these kids believe that I don’t have rules and boundaries, that my kids run free without consequences? Is this why they" have labelled me as the cool parent? However, after some soul-searching and reflection, I’ve decided that that’s not what they see. In fact, I am taking it as a win and here’s why.


Parenting Teenagers and Being The Cool Mom

She's a positive and confident parent, not a parent without rules or boundaries.

A cool mom listens without judgment. She encourages conversations, not lectures.

A cool mom meets her kids where they are not where she expects them to be.

A cool mom accepts missteps and failures as opportunities for learning and growth, not shame and disappointment.

A cool mom has boundaries and rules but allows her kids to explore and grow freely within them.

A cool mom loves without conditions or unrealistic expectations.

A cool mom helps her kids set goals and gives them the tools to crush them.

A cool mom is not perfect and makes mistakes often, but she apologizes and reminds her kids that, like them, she is growing and learning too.

A cool mom recognizes her child is quickly maturing but is also still a child that needs protecting and is ok with saying no sometimes.

A cool mom isn't about a lack of rules, zero responsibility, and always saying yes, because if those were the criteria, I certainly would not qualify. I think being a cool mom means you have boundaries, encourage communication and prioritize mutual respect over absolute authority. No, what makes a cool mom is listening, speaking honestly, remaining calm and thinking before you react. I believe that the success of a cool mom is when you create a space in which they feel comfortable opening up, sharing, asking questions and being their authentic selves.

ThePitfalls Of Being The "Cool" Mom

You want to know that one of the hardest parts of being the cool mom, it's being included in their conversations, keeping quiet and letting the conversation happen around you. Trying not to make everything a lesson; sometimes, they need you to listen. It takes everything in me not to use these moments and lay them with sage advice or wisdom. Instead, I try to ask thought-provoking questions, allowing them to arrive at their solutions.

There are pitfalls to being that parent that kids come to when they are struggling; there is a responsibility that needs to be taken seriously and respect that needs to be honoured when that child is not yours. When a child confides in you, it’s not your job to solve their problems but instead coach and guide them to come to their own solutions. When they speak about their family, it's not your role to judge, but instead, remind them tenderly that their parents love them and only want what's best for them. Encouraging them to speak their truth to t"eir parents in a calm and respectful manner.

There will come a time, in truth, multiple times, when your child or one of their friends will share information with you that will have you conflicted. They may be drinking, partying or perhaps have started to explore sex, and you will be faced with a decision regarding whether you inform their parents or keep it to yourself.

It is here that you must ensure you always lay out solid boundaries. I am careful to be clear about this when talking with my kids and their peers. It's a real struggle when your child or their friends share sensitive information with you, as it can leave you torn about whether you should report back to the parents. I remind them that I will never lie to them or for them, especially to other parents. I am so loyal to my children, always wanting to ensure I maintain their trust, but I also have to consider the safety of each situation. When my kids talk to me or share concerns, I have a rule of thumb. If it's physically dangerous or illegal, then I have a moral obligation to let the involved parties know, but if it falls into the normal range of teenage rebellion and exploration, I monitor it to ensure it doesn't get out of hand.

A large part of me does not want access to the information they share with me; ignorance is bliss sometimes. However, I am honoured to know that they will tell me what's going on, even if I'm going to be upset or hesitant about whatever shenanigans they are getting into. Parenting teenagers is a hard job, and being in the dark when it comes to knowing what's going on in their life is never fun.

It's so tricky because there are times when I feel like my children and their friends shouldn't be so open with me, that some secrets are ok, but then when I really think about it, I remind myself that it's better to have all the information then bit and pieces.

Lastly, it's important to remember that no matter how hard you try, there are going to be times in your motherhood journey when you are most definitely going to be the bad mom, the mom who argues or disagrees with her kids and will be labelled the Villian in their story. This is where you will have to take comfort in knowing that there is always another cool mom out there that will be looking out for your child just as you have for theirs. That old saying, it takes a village, never held more truth than parenting though the teenage years. I am unbelievably humbled that my children both have an army of Cool Moms to watch over them and help guide them during this trying phase of parenthood.

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