The Toughest Ages To Parent According to Scary Mommy Readers

They say, ‘The days are long, but the years are short.’ But if you’ve been at this parenting thing awhile, you may have noticed that some years are longer than others. We asked our readers, ‘What’s the worst age?’ As always, our brilliant audience (that’s you!) had plenty of insight to share. Answers vary, but there are definitely some recurring themes.

Infants Are The Worst

Between lifestyle adjustments, sleep deprivation, breastfeeding and the rollercoaster of postpartum hormones, parents start off with a healthy helping of ‘yikes.’

“The hardest was newborn to walking for me. I was so sleep deprived and my kid cried non-stop. Once they started walking everything got better.”

“0-4 was the hardest for me. The infant stage due to PPD and lack of sleep. The toddler stage due to big feelings.”

Toddlers Are The Worst

Once you get a handle on sustaining the life of a tiny human, nature throws in some curveballs. There’s no impulse control, there may or may not be sleep, but there sure is mobility! And… [sinister music] opinions!

“Toddler years for me with all four kids. Sure, my kids have had difficulties through all ages (oldest is almost 11) but none of them compare to the toddler years. The ratio of illogical and demanding and emotional is soooo imbalanced. Sleep schedules were still chaotic. Toilet training was hard with all of them too; one had a significant poo-smearing fascination. 😩”

“Three: they thought they were grown, but could actually do very little for themselves. They learned they were separate beings and wanted to run the show. So much attitude and zero self regulation.”

“3. Hands down. I thought it was because I also had a newborn with my first, but then with my second, 3 was still hell.”

“3-4. Toddlers are violently mobile with lots of opinions and zero sense of danger, and many are still not sleeping through the night. I wouldn’t mind another newborn but you couldn’t pay me to do the toddler phase again.”

“3…verbal, clever, don’t give a crap. Impulsive. Bigger, faster and heavier. More difficult to redirect, difficult to reason with. No sense of time or delayed gratification. They have to be taught EVERYTHING. The ‘lights’ are on intellectually and personality-wise without the experience and self-control.”

Elementary School Kids Are The Worst

“The kindergarten and first grade years. They are tired and cranky from school, they think they’re grown-up because they’re gaining independence, but they’re too young to do all the new big kid stuff they think they should be allowed to. I’ve been through it 4 times and found it equally annoying and exhausting each time.”

“8 with my daughter because how is there that much sass in such a small human?”

“Grades 2-5, around 7-11 years old-ish. They still need a lot of help but think they know everything. They want independence they aren’t prepared for. They can’t really think through safety stuff and consequences like teens, but they sure want to do the same stuff. They want all of your attention as much as a little kid, but they’re fully aware of any time you’re not giving 100%. Mood swings and meltdowns.”

“9 was definitely the most difficult age at our house.”

“9 for our family as well. He’s 10 now and we got him sorted out.”

Middle School Kids Are The Worst

Hello puberty. If you don’t remember how rough this time is, surely you’ve been warned. More warnings incoming.

“I’d say like 6th grade-10th grade. Whatever ages that ends up being. It’s totally different for each kid. The puberty hormones and the push for absolute independence even though they aren’t old enough causes serious arguing and rages. I have boys. They have the same drama as girls, they just express it as anger instead of whiny crying.”

“Middle School years; it wasn’t easy to just be friends with everyone anymore.”

“Mom to five and I can tell you each one was different. But it usually came between 12 to 16 years of age.”

“Grade 6- it’s when all the friend issues and insecurities began.”

“Started at 11. 15 now. I’ll let you know when it gets better.”

Teenagers Are The Worst

It feels like just yesterday we were the hormonal know-it-alls wreaking havoc. No need to remind me how long ago it actually was. This is the parenting 4th quarter and anything could happen.

“Boys 14 to 16 and girls 15-17. So rough. I have 8 kids. I thought it was hard when they were all little but it’s got nothing on teenagers.”

“17. Finishing high school and preparing for the next step.”

“18/19. No joke. I’d go through the terrible twos before being forced to sit and watch my newly adult child make decisions that don’t work — and helping them pick up the pieces afterwards. At this point it’s having faith that we’ve done out best as parents.”

“From the driver’s license to mid-20’s…”

Adults Are The Worst?

I know we just said the teen years are the 4th quarter but…surprise! Parenting goes into overtime!

“18-22. I have both and they’re equally difficult. Takes a lot of practice to keep your mouth shut, to trust in them, yourself, and that you did a good enough job and gave enough guidance for them to make choices on their own now. The hardest part is realizing you can’t control anything. You don’t have to like or agree with everything, but if you want a relationship with them, you choose consciously to let them spread their wings for better or worse…and don’t forget to breathe through it all.”

“Now is the worst for me…my daughter is 22. She’s trying out independence, working to move out. I want her to grow, but I know how expensive things are and want her to stay living with me for awhile. And it’s hard to get her to do chores, or keep her space clean. She’s grown, but still living in my house and I expect cleanliness. Ugh!”

“Probably 18 to maybe 45. Mine’s only 30 but thinks they know EVERYTHING. I just let them think that. Life finds a way to humble everyone! Never think that when they get grown it’s easier- it’s just different issues!”

“Whatever age they are when they move away.”

“When they have children of their own and let you know that most of your parenting was wrong. 😐”

Wait, so it’s all hard?

Yes…but, get this- it’s all good too.

“They’re all the worst when you’re in the middle of it. Looking back over it all, it wasn’t so bad.”

“3 year olds at least tend to be hilarious and command mad respect for their independence and out-of-the-box choices.”

“Around age 7, I suddenly had a cooperative, companionable child who only occasionally made a bad decision, usually involving being ‘one of the crowd,’ but we worked through it.”

“A plus side to tough grade school years is they will sometimes still snuggle, let you read bedtime stories, hold your hand, and wear cute stuff. They are getting embarrassed of having parents but still really love you and it shows.”

“Middle school was plenty challenging but also rewarding, and the challenging phases never went on too long. I just always enjoyed whatever stage they were at. Now that they are all functioning adults it is really nice!”

“13 has actually been super delightful, so far teenage girls aren’t so bad y’all!”

“The easiest has been teenagers. They’re so fun and independent.”

“I’m probably going to get some hate for this but, I don’t think there is a ‘bad’ age. Every age has challenges. Everyone warned me that babies were hard. Then, it was two year olds. Then, three, eight, teens, etc. Every developmental age will humble you, warm you and surprise you. It offsets…hopefully. Lol.”


Leave it to Scary Mommy readers to sum it up best. The worst age is…

“Mine. Because I never seem to have the energy to handle theirs. 😂”

“The one you just made it through. 😃”

“They are all hard. Different at every stage but all still hard. Parenting is hard.”

“All of em, hope this helps!”

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