I got to escape from my regular “routine” (Its and extremely dynamic and frequently rearranged routine) today.I went out with a friend to help her shop in preparation for a party. It was so refreshing to actually talk with an adult. Particularly one who has been a mother of young children but isn’t anymore. She listens to me sympathetically without needing a turn to whine herself. And then I get to listen to her talking about teenager woes and think about all the stuff I have to look forward to. Okay, that piece is worrisome, but playing ostrich won’t make it go away.
I think many parents not only borrow trouble, but actually set it up for themselves by fearing the teen years. I had someone once tell me “when they turn 14 they go crazy”. No, they don’t. They go through some extremely predictable and understandable body changes and mental changes as they struggle to navigate the passage from childhood to adulthood. Why on earth do parents sabotage themselves into believing that teens are beyond comprehension? Instead parents need to be educating themselves on how to assist that passage. Rather than attempting to control their teens, parents should be seeking ways to guide them to rational independence. It’s a process that should begin well before a child hits puberty so that the pattern is in place. Give them as much freedom as they can deal with and they don’t feel like they have to fight for it. Let them know that you are willing to negotiate. Especially that you are willing to let them convince you that they are right.
Well, at least that’s the theory I’ve been working under for the last 9 years. Some time in the next 5 years I’ll have a feel for how well I did.
All in all I think I’m looking forward to having teenagers. There will definitely be some challenges, but I’m excited to watch my kids develop their own interests and to start being emotionally self sufficient. I’m sure when I get there I’ll miss being the major source of all their opinions, but on the other hand a 16 year old who needs his mother to tell him what he thinks is pretty pathetic and I don’t want that for any of my kids. Someday I’ll get to have adult conversations WITH MY KIDS. That will be really really cool and it isn’t that far away.