Happy New Year everyone. It has not been the greatest start to 2023. I’m going to back you up before I jump into this New Year.

Many years ago, we bought Max a Xbox gaming system. My husband reminded me that this is where it all began. Seth feels like he “lost” Max that day. I wanted to get Max an Xbox so that he could connect with his friends online gaming. His friends were all getting Xbox’s and talking to each other while they gamed. Me being the sap that I am fell for Max wanting to online game with his friends. This is where the story begins.

Max stopped gaming with Seth and started to game with his friends. You know the progression of your child becoming a teenager, and then adult, and essentially losing a lot of their time and attention. This is the beginning of that.

Max has a very smart computer brain. At this point today, we think he is going to major in Computer Science in college, which is a perfect fit for him. He has gamed on the Xbox, PlayStation, a PC desktop computer that Max and Seth built, and now the Occulus headset too. If there is a way to game, Max has found it.

Thankfully Max does have friends in our town that he games with. However, he has been meeting kids from all over the country that he games with online. I remind Max that you never really know who someone is. They could say they are a 16 year old high school kid and really be a 46 year old adult using a voice changer. At first, this whole thing really scared me and worried me. I would listen and hear kids voices and think it was okay until I remembered that a voice doesn’t really mean anything.  This is a whole new world that our children are living in. I certainly didn’t have online friends as a teenager.

Max was talking to both boys and girls online while he was gaming. I have never loved it but as Seth says to me, “Get with the times.” It’s hard as a protective mother to get with the times. I have adjusted to friends and now it gets even more complicated than just friends.

Max was introduced by his friends to a girl online while he was gaming. This girl became his girlfriend, and she was “living” in my home via face time.  Max would walk around the house with her in his phone. He would cook with her, exercise with her, go in the car with her, etc. I heard them talking all the time. Max’s sisters and I also regularly talked to her as she was living in the house with us. I would forget she was there as it became normal.

Months went by and Max asked to go meet her as she lives in another state 6 hours away. He asked and he asked, and he asked again to go visit her during winter break as his big Hanukkah gift. Max is persistent and relentless, and I am a sap. Put those two things together and guess where we ended up for winter break? Max is lucky that I love a new family adventure.

Seeing Max and his girlfriend meet in person for the first time is something that I will never forget. I knew that this moment was better than anything I could buy Max for Hanukkah. I felt as happy as he did because all a mother wants is to see her children happy. Their smiles were worth that long drive to me.

Their visit went well, and they loved being together and we found fun things to do while we were there. I knew the New year wasn’t going to start out on a good note because that is when we would head home. We got in the car with a very sad son to take the long car ride home. Not exactly how I would choose to start out my New Year. The car was full of sadness as we headed home. I kept asking myself, “Did I make this worse?” Max looked at me and said, “Now she goes back to being in my phone,” and the tears poured down my face. Long distance relationships suck. Seth and I have both had long distance relationships so we could both relate to how he was feeling and shared our own experiences with Max. We were as supportive as we could be as we felt bad for him.

Young teenage online love isn’t easy. I posted our trip on social media and other moms chimed in that their children were also dating teenagers that lived in a different state. I knew that I wasn’t alone, and I know that things are different than when I was Max’s age. I went to high school with my boyfriend. He lived five minutes away not six hours away!

Seth just took our sad son back to school. We hop back into the routine today and two out of my three kids were sad to go back to school. Lillie’s happy enthusiasm this morning helped me through the morning. I have allowed teenage drama to take over my emotions and am feeling sad for Max. Teenage drama has entered my life.

Do I think I need to get with the times? Yes, I do.

Do I think long distance dating is ideal? No, I don’t.

Am I ready to deal with teenage dating drama? No, I am not. Are we ever ready? I have been there. I have gotten through it. Max will too. I keep reminding him that his family is here for him as he goes through the ups and downs of life. Just knowing that I was coming home to my mom every day after high school was a very grounding force for me. Knowing that we are there for them whether they want to talk or not is very important as a teenage parent whether they communicate that or not. Ella also reminded me yesterday that, “We can do hard things.” From the mouths of babes. Excellent reminder from my smart girl.

Teenage Relationships:

  • Share your experiences with your children. Share your heartbreaks.
  • Normalize their feelings. I told Max, “Of course you feel sad. That is normal to feel in this situation.”
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Try not to be reactive over hard topics.
  • Monitor safety if there is online dating and friendships. Remind them not to give out their location, school, identifying info. Remind them that they don’t really know who they are talking to sometimes.
  • Accept that things are different. Our kids are meeting people online. My friend told me that her son met his girlfriend at camp, and they live long distance.
  • Set limits and boundaries. What is acceptable to you? Make that clear.
  • Watch out for red flags – how do they treat each other. How is your child acting? Do they seem happy?
  • Model what you want to see in their relationship – Max thanked us for being good role models. There are times when you feel ten feet tall like you are a good parent. This was one of those moments. There are times when I feel one foot tall and am not so impressed with my parenting.
  • Learn together. I’m trying hard to give myself, Max and Seth grace and understanding as we learn and grow together. This isn’t easy.

Max turns 16 in 20 days. I have a feeling this is only the beginning of a lot of teenage drama. I will tell Seth, Max, myself and all of you that we can all get through the teenage years.

Last night my husband and I got settled on our couch to watch our Buffalo Bills play the Cincinnati Bengals after a long sad day with our son. How fitting that we just got home from Cincinnati and that’s who our team was playing. Unfortunately, Damar Hamlin, one of the Buffalo Bills players suffered cardiac arrest on the field last night. We watched with the rest of Buffalo as he was administered CPR to get his heart going. I sat there praying for him with so many other people. He is now in the hospital in critical condition, and I will continue to pray for him. No one cared about the game anymore. We cared about Damar. We cared about our Bills family. This really puts things into perspective. What really truly matters in life is health and safety.

So, you see, the year has really started out sad. Sadness from Max. Sadness for Damar and the Buffalo Bills. My mother in law just asked on Facebook how we are doing. We are sad. We pray for Damar to be ok. That is so much more important than teenage drama. We will get through the angst together as a family. I have built a strong foundation with Seth for our children. I can only hope that this helps them through whatever life throws their way.

Here’s hoping that 2023 looks up. Prayers for Damar! Love to our Buffalo Bills family.

Laughing, Loving, Learning,

Rebecca Greene,

Whinypaluza Notes:

Whinypaluza Mom Group:

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