One of my co-workers gave birth to a beautiful baby girl recently. A pretty pink card was passed around the office so that we could all write words of congratulations to her and her husband on becoming parents. Most of my colleagues signed the card with cute sayings like – “Welcome to the world” and “Can’t wait to meet the little bundle of joy.” I, on the other hand, really wanted to pass along my words of wisdom. (I didn’t – but I wanted to). I’ll never forget what a good friend of mine wrote to me right before I was about to give birth to my daughter: “First the pain, then the pleasure, then the patience.” At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about – but 17+ years into this parenting gig and now I get it. In case I need to spell it out for anyone – The pain is childbirth. The pleasure is all the cuddles and cuteness that babies and toddlers bring. The patience, well that would be the teenage years. The God’s honest truth is that I love this stage of their lives when they become young adults and see their individual gifts they will soon contribute to make the world a better place. But, let’s face it. We parents need a lot of patience when it comes to raising teenagers. And full disclaimer–patience has never been my strong suit. I remember when those “What to Expect” books were helpful for potty training, sleeping schedules and socializing. Unfortunately, those books stop at the second year of their lives–which is a real shame.If there was a “What to Expect” book for raising teenagers, I think this is what the table of contents would look like. Chapter 1 – Patience – Get Some. You are Going to Need It. Chapter 2 – The Front Seat – Birds, Bees, Smoking, Drinking, Drugs, Politics – and other conversations you will have with your child when you are driving them somewhere. Chapter 3 – The Passenger Seat – Where you sit, hold tight and pray while you teach them how to drive. Chapter 4 – Clean Your Room – Is this worth the battle? Chapter 5 – Grounded! – Discipline beyond timeouts and swear jars Chapter 6 – Cell phones and Social Media – Necessary evil or perfect parenting tool? Chapter 7 – Friends – Fights and Forgiveness Chapter 8 – Dating – Need I say more? Chapter 9 – The Tough Stuff (Part I) – Teen depression, anxiety, bullying and so much more. Chapter 10 – The Tough Stuff (Part II) – Love and limits. Roots and wings It ain’t easy. It’s quite a journey, But, I’ll say one thing – it’s all worth it.