Parenting is never exactly a walk in the park. With each new stage, comes a unique set of challenges and just when you think you’ve mastered those obstacles, you’re entering into a new stage. For this reason, some would argue that the hardest stage is whichever one you’re in at the present moment; however, there are some periods within a child’s development that are truly much more difficult than others. Here are the most difficult stages of parenting ranked.
5. Newborn Stage
Caring for a newborn can leave you feeling like a walking zombie. While your body attempts to mend itself as you recover from the physical demands childbirth, you’re tasked with figuring out how to care for a newborn who may not learn to sleep through the night anytime soon. It is also during this stage that many mothers have to grapple with the baby blues, postpartum depression, and colicky babies. The most redeeming characteristic of the newborn stage is that the baby naps frequently, which may offer some much-needed downtime.
4. Separation Anxiety
By the time a baby is six or seven months of age, their mom has returned to work for maternity leave. Unfortunately, this is also around the time when separation anxiety kicks in. Separation anxiety is a developmental milestone during which babies begin to develop a sense of object permanence. Separation anxiety is often marked by hysterical crying when their parents are out of sight. It can be particularly heartbreaking for working parents to leave their kids at daycare each morning knowing that their baby will be upset in their absence.
3. Teen angst
Teen angst is a term often used to describe a period that ranges between the ages of 13 and 19, which is characterized by frequent mood swings and peer-related drama. It does not typically last for the entire span of the teenage years and not all teens are affected in the way. Parenting through the angsty teen years can be challenging because the constant mood swings can disruptive to the entire household.
2. Terrible Twos
Although most parents expect for the terrible twos stage to begin when a child turns two, it can actually begin before or near a child’s first birthday. The terrible twos are a developmental stage defined by rapid changes in a child’s moods and behavioral challenges such as tantrums. Though they can be emotionally taxing on parents, the terrible twos are perfectly normal and are a result of the child’s reliance on their parents and their desire for independence.
1. Middle School
A study of nearly 2,000 mothers conducted by Suniya Luthar and Lucia Ciciolla at Arizona State University found that middle school is actually the most difficult stage of parenting. Mothers of children who ranged between ages 12 and 14 reported feeling worse than parents of infants, toddlers, elementary school children, and adult children. Moms reported viewing their children’s behavior in less positive ways. Additionally, middle school is a challenging time in the lives of kids as kids begin to prioritize relationships with peers, academic demands increase, puberty hits, and insecurity is at an all-time high.