A Lesson on Listening to My Teens

my girls

My three teen daughters, ready for our fun at 12am on Black Friday.

I bought my 16yo daughter the new Taylor Swift CD for Christmas.  My daughter knows I enjoy Swift’s music, too, so it wasn’t a big surprise when she asked me a few days after Christmas:  “Have you listened to my new CD, mom?”  I told her I hadn’t, and then brushed the question from my mind.

The next day:  “Have you listened to my new CD yet?”  No, I answered, still distracted and not giving her question much thought.

When she asked again a few nights later, I actually joked about it, “Geesh, Hannah, lay off already!”  “Well, there’s a song on it that I think will make you cry.”  “Make me cry?” I joked.  “Well,” she answered quietly, “it made me cry.”

As is often too true of me, I was distracted by a hundred other things and never did bother to listen to the CD.  Until one night, when my daughter insisted.

She actually sat me down next to her, got the music, and told me she wanted me to hear this.  And that she would be listening with me.  The song is called “Never Grow Up,” a gentle ballad sung softly with a guitar.

Here are the lyrics:

Your little hand’s wrapped around my finger
And it’s so quiet in the world tonight
Your little eyelids flutter cause you’re dreaming
So I tuck you in, turn on your favorite night light
To you everything’s funny
You got nothing to regret
I’d give all I have, honey
If you could stay like that

Chorus
Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up
Don’t you ever grow up
Just stay this little
Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up
Don’t you ever grow up
It could stay this simple
I won’t let nobody hurt you
Won’t let no one break your heart
And no one will desert you
Just try to never grow up
Never grow up

You’re in the car on the way to the movies
And you’re mortified your mom’s dropping you off
At 14, there’s just so much you can’t do
And you can’t wait to move out someday and call your own shots
But don’t make her drop you off around the block
Remember that she’s getting older too
And don’t lose the way that you dance around in your pj’s getting ready for school

Chorus

Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up
Don’t you ever grow up
Just stay this little
Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up
Don’t you ever grow up
It could stay this simple
No one’s ever burned you
Nothing’s ever left you scarred
And even though you want to
Please try to never grow up

Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room
Memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home
Remember the footsteps, remember the words said
And all your little brother’s favorite songs
I just realized everything I have is someday gonna be gone

So here I am in my new apartment
In a big city, they just dropped me off
It’s so much colder than I thought it would be
So I tuck myself in and turn my night light on

Wish I’d never grown up
I wish I’d never grown up

Oh I don’t wanna grow up
Wish I’d never grown up
I could still be little
Oh, I don’t wanna grow up
Wish I’d never grown up
It could still be simple
Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up
Don’t you ever grow up
Just stay this little
Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up
Don’t you ever grow up
It could stay this simple
Won’t let nobody hurt you
Won’t let no one break your heart
And even though you want to
Please try to never grow up
Oh
Don’t you ever grow up
Oh
Never grow up
Just never grow up

My daughter was absolutely right – I cried.  And she cried.  And we hugged.  In those few minutes, I believe my daughter was trying to tell me all about her fears, her love for us, and her deepest feelings about this stage in her life.

Sometimes our teenagers don’t tell us everything with their own words.  Sometimes they try to show us how they feel by moving closer to us on the couch or by stopping by to say Hey at our bedroom door.  Sometimes it’s asking to sit next to us in the front seat or lingering with us at the table after dinner.

I don’t think it’s easy for a teenager to verbalize all they hope for and fear about growing and changing and contemplating all the unknowns about life beyond home.  But don’t EVER take for granted that they aren’t thinking those things.  Listen to the other ways they are trying to communicate with you, even if it’s through another person’s beautiful song.

  • DebbieLB

    This is an awesome post–I have five teens: 19, 17, 16, 15, 15…and it is easy to get caught up in keeping the house clean, the kids fed, the basketball uniforms washed…and forget to really listen. We talk…but do we listen?! Thanks for the reminder and I’m heading to iTunes for that song right now!

    • Thanks, Debbie! Wow – FIVE teens! My three girls are enough right now, and there are truly some days I’m thankful for my two boys, who are younger. They’re still just so simple and relaxed. 🙂 All in all, though, it’s amazing what I learn from my girls. Sounds like you and I are both very blessed.

  • My tween LOVES this song and sings it in the shower all the time. I tear up often when I hear the words and I wonder how many of them she really understands. Probably more than I realize.

  • Nicki Woo

    Oh my goodness. What a beautiful post. I’m crying here as I type. I love you. And your daughter. And my daughters.

    You’re so right. It’s in the little movements and gestures they make to us as they try to navigate the world. I have very fiery, ornery 10 year old, who gravitates to me often, just to be close, to tell me about her day, and to soak up my love. I hope it stays like that forever.

    Loved me you last night. I think you’re fantastic, with a great personality, and I hope that we can become friends. Love your blog of course. It is a total reflection of you, I’ll be back soon.

    God bless, http://www.nickiwoo.com

    • Nicki – I’m overwhelmed by your kind words! Thank you so much! It was great meeting you, too, and I’m glad you weren’t too put-off by what felt like a bit of hyper-activity on my part that night. 🙂 It had been a long day, and I think my mind was really elsewhere, which led to me being a bit too chatty and giggly. 🙂 I hope we get another chance soon to chat! And it sounds like we’re both quite blessed to have our girls in our lives. Such a great responsibility with such great rewards. 🙂 Take care!

  • Oh my gosh what thoughtful children you have and for teenagers that’s even a bigger deal. I hope my girls have a great heart like that when they get older. And how true it is that sometimes we need to stop ourselves and listen to our children sometimes they say the most profound things!

  • Dawn Sandomeno

    I loved this post. I agree that our teens communicate with us in many and some just go right over our heads. I’m so happy for you that you got the message and thrilled that you took the time to share it – we can all use a reminder. I’m going to share this with my friends – it’s a great wake up call for so many that are missing the message from their teens!

  • Great post Stacey. You are so right about teenagers. They talk to us in their own language and we need to listen.

  • This is a wonderful story to read. I have a 16-year-old daughter (just one child). I try hard to stay open, but we laugh at each other often because we’re both guilty of being too distracted to listen. I’m blessed with a daughter who talks to me WAY more than I have a right to expect. Her friends, too, talk to me (and I adore them all). I love teenagers. They’re magical.

  • Jamie Palmer

    She’s so thoughtful! I wish my daughter when she’s 16
    she’s like your daughter.. your lucky to have her. <3

  • MJ on Parenting Teens

    Wow, this post made me realize that I do sometimes take small things that my teen may have been trying to say for granted. The daily activities at home often occupies my mind and in a way that made me guilty about a lot of things. Thanks for reminding me that a simple “Hi” from my son may already be a lot to say for teens like him. I’ll try to be more sensitive and listen to what they have to say from now on. The song has greatly touched my heart too.