I was thinking about this the other day. Do you realize that the amount of time you have to enjoy your children is greater after age 18? Most of the years you will enjoy with your children are wayyyy after adolescence! This is important. So lets say that from ages 12-18 feel like the longest 6 years of your life. Your kid(s) challenge every fiber of your being and sanity. You fear for their life on a daily basis, you worry that a missed homework assignment, a bad quiz or test grade could change the outcome of their whole life because they won't get into the honor course or get into the college that you think will influence the rest of their life, or maybe for you it's your teen having friends that seem to have a bad influence on them, or that a boyfriend or girlfriend you dislike means that this will be who they marry. Or perhaps they are your wild child, and the term party hearty was invented just for them. Or maybe your teen is the shy one, and is home with you every weekend watching movies and sulking in their room. Whatever worries you have, they feel scary and huge and forever worries.
Here's the good news. Prior to adolescence you have instilled in your child all the good stuff. Your values, your models on how to treat people, and your love and confidence in them. This doesn't go away even if during Adolescence it looks and feels that way. It has just gone into their virtual hope chest, ready to be retrieved when their search for their own identity calms down.
Think of it this way. Life is like a metaphorical buffet table. When your kids were young, you went up to the buffet and chose for them, having a sense of what you thought they might like. You chose your family favorites, and items that mimicked things they already liked. But one day, they decided it was time to go up to the buffet table by themselves, and were excited about all the items they had never seen or tasted before. Now, they want to try everything, even those "dishes" you thought they would NEVER like.
They have to try everything before they can settle on those things that they will hang onto for life. Believe me those old family favorites will be among them, as well as some things that are completely unique to their own tastes. And that's a good thing.
Once your kids hit their twenties, the hope chest opens, and their relationship with you changes yet again. All those "mistakes" of adolescence become the thanksgiving and holiday dinner table stories. "Remember that night when you and your friends ........" Let the laughter and reflection begin. Your teen will do some pretty stupid and scary things over the next few years, but trust me, it's only a moment in time!