I used to think that raising toddlers was a nightmare, until my own woke up one day and turned 15. Don’t get me wrong, toddlers are EXTREMELY challenging, but I would take that challenge any day over the teen syndrome.

Once in a while I see a glimpse of that sweet, good-natured boy that I raised – but most of the time what I experience is the whole 15 thing. The problem is that when they turn this age, they are experts at it. They know exactly how to drive parents insane and are relentless at doing it. There is no rhyme or reason for many things they do are say – it just is. I have devised a 5 rules that help me to remain sane:

1. Let go of the small stuff.
It is REALLY important to choose your battles. Sometimes at the height of frustration it is really hard to walk away, but it is imperative for your own sanity.

2. Don’t engage in insane debates – you will never win
This is by far the most annoying thing about my 15 year old, he is capable of making a case for whatever it is he wants to do in what sounds like a very convincing way. Once you ‘peel back the layers’ you realize that what is being suggested is insane. Don’t fall for it – disengage and walk away.

3. Find unique ways to connect with them and to remain present in their life
I connect with my son through his music, he introduces me to new stuff all the time and I love it – we listen together all the time. I also support his passion for skateboarding – though it makes me nervous — even providing transportation for him (and his friends) to and from skating locations. Some other things – I text message him, leave notes in his backpack and in his room, and we have a sit down family dinner at least 2x per week…

4. Don’t forget that you are in charge
Sometimes I just want to wave the white flag, surrender, and let him rule. I have done this once or twice and it never pays off – so don’t do this. Put your foot down with no further discussion as to why. They may hate you now but appreciate it later.

5. Keep a mental picture of them as your beautiful baby
Remind yourself of how special they are – and that this is just a phase both of you will joke about later on in life.