My husband and I are trying to raise a teenager and it is not easy. We get asked to chill out a lot and told he has it handled; there are lots of lost phones and belongings, and we are often shut out of an emotional world that used to be so open, tender and affectionate.
It’s heartrending and confusing to know when to intervene and when to let him experience the consequences. And this is the second teenager we are raising. The first time through didn’t seem this difficult—maybe it’s like childbirth—we get amnesia afterwards as to the labor pains and complexity involved in the process.
Going for the Gold
I have to give it to him for his ability to convince us from time to time that he’s got it all under control—and sometimes he does. I know it is tough growing up, but us wanting to help him avoid some of the mistakes we made just doesn’t work. He has to make his own discoveries, no matter how wrenching it is to watch the predictable unfold.
I want to be a model parent. I want to act with the most evolved response when things go awry and I am amazed at how, like a well rehearsed play, I fall into the role of the crazy, reactive mother.
So what are the lessons in all of this? I see several:
1) Calm down and get centered—by taking a breath and centering myself before engaging with an issue, I am more likely to act in the way I choose rather than being completely controlled by my runaway emotions.
2) Communicate—Listen to what my son has to say and what he doesn’t say about what is going on with him. Express my feelings and the impact the situation has on me. And do this often and regularly.
3) Compromise—Find the healthy balance between the limits I am comfortable with and allowing him autonomy and privacy.
4) Connect—Create time and situations where we can relax and enjoy each other, spending time together that is meaningful and mutually fun.
5) Concede the desire to be perfect—it is futile and highly over rated. How can we learn anything about ourselves and grow if it is all perfect?
6) Celebrate—Focus on the times when he makes the loving, generous, life enhancing choices that remind me he is a great kid. Celebrate the times we do connect and are able to show our love for each other in a meaningful way.
7) Compassion—above all else, find compassion in the situation. It’s hard to grow up for both my son and myself. It’s also hard to let go and let it happen, while still paying enough attention to not let things derail
Much has Been Written
There’s a reason why volumes of books and reels of film have been created on the subject. . .
So I do the best I can at this most difficult job of parenting and am grateful that I have a (mostly) wonderful teenager to grapple with.
And find yourself
Visit me some
To soothe my ache
There’s no mistakes