Yes teenage years are challenging, but no more challenging than raising a 2 year old. In fact I see a lot of simularities between adolecence and toddlerhood. Often the same things that worked in toddlerhood work for teens. Lots of love & encouragement, the security of reasonable boundries, one on one conversation with lots of eye to eye contact, physical touching, and REALLY LISTENING TO THEM!
I also heard the "you just wait" warnings, all the time. I felt as if some of these "well meaning" friends and family were just waiting with baited breath for my kids to "turn on me" so to speak. Argh.......well, I have to say that puberty is a difficult time and there were times with my first son that I wondered if we would ever be close again....we are. He is grown and married now and I couldn't be prouder of him. With my daughter it was different because girls are so much more vocal. We both said things we regretted but became closer through it all. During her teen years we became best friends and remain so today. She is a wonderful woman,wife and mother as I always knew she would be. My 20 year old son is in college now. He was a joy as a teenager, most of the time, and we are all just as close now.
I have teenage daughters now that I often struggle with. My 14 year old has always been the most challenging child. Very strong willed. It is a balancing act to raise her without breaking her spirit. I often thought we would never be as close as my older daughter and I were...but I'm seening now that the tough times have drawn us closer than I could have imagined. My 12 year old is just entering the adolencent years and I see so much of me in her. The "me" I don't like....ugh.....that is hard. They can be disrespectful at times and my husband and I dont' tolerate that. We let them know in a loving but firm way that that won't be tolerated. We are a close family and do most things together. They have all been homeschooled all their lives, and perhaps that has helped them to avoid the worst of the negitive teen peer-pressure, yet they still seemed to have plenty of that to deal with. However, I would attribute most to respecting them as human beings from birth. As parents we have certianly lost it many times and been far from perfect. But we have been quick to admit our failures, appoligize, and listen to our children.
The best advice I have for the teenage years is to remeber they are similar to toddlers, only bigger. Both ages are trying out independence, learning how to "walk" on their own, think for themselves, and make discissions while still in the safety net of their parents. Like toddlers, teens often take 2 steps forward and one back. Be there with love, encouragement and reassurance, when they need to take that back step.
Oh geez, i wrote a book again.....well, I hope it will encourage someone to continue their loving guidance/gentle discipline throughout the teen years. It is worth the effort!