This post has been rattling around in my mind for a while? Life has changed so much in the last year in so many ways.
I was never prepared for this stage; teenagers really are a different breed. It is not a cliché, but fact.
We have two boys and like most families they are like chalk and cheese with Jack being quietly confident, likes his own company but also has lots of friends. Parenting him was easy on many levels but tough on others. He was the worse toddler ever, never slept and threw tantrums that the whole road could hear. But he mellowed as he grew up. He is quite deep, never shares what he thinks which leaves me interrogating to get any snippets of information out of him.
Joe was an easy baby so chilled, slept through almost immediately and was so well-behaved. He is confident loud and open, all in a nice way. But loves to be centre of attention, fit in and be liked. I think that need to be liked can be an issue, as he is a people pleaser. What he doesn’t realise is how likeable he is and he really doesn’t need to try so hard.
And there you have it two boys with totally different personalities, that to be quite honest require totally different approaches.
In many ways they need us much less. Yet I feel taking my eye off the ball at this stage could be fatal as they will make mistakes and do need guidance even if they feel they do not necessarily need it.
That leaves us in a period of limbo as parents. They are two old to be mothered, don’t want to be nagged! But need advice and guidance that only and adult can offer, due to life experience.
I think what I am trying to say is that I am finding it hard to let go. When they were little we had control on who they mixed with, where they went, what they ate. And now not so much! They have to go forward and make their own friends and surround themselves with people who make them feel good about themselves. But these also have to be people who are good for them.
I don’t even have the answers on this; I can’t provide a guide for how to get parenting teen’s right. Not because I feel we are getting it wrong, we wont know that for many years yet. And I suppose that is why us parents with teens are not producing these guides.
Unlike toddlers, results aren’t immediate. We can’t see if we are getting it right, as we are not with our children all the time. We have to wait. It’s like the longest cooking pie, ever. And if you had told me when they were toddlers there is a stage where you lose part control and can only hope you got it right earlier along the road I would have laughed. Said nothing is harder than controlling the terrible 2s. Ha ha looking back that was a piece of cake.
What have I learnt so far?
Be brave, parenting teens requires bravery.
They will never think you are cool, ignore them and believe in yourself.
They don’t need you less, just in a different way. Taking your foot of the pedal at this stage is like wearing a blindfold for the last hour of a 10 hour car journey! You would never do that would you?
Bring them up to know they can talk to you about concerns. Something happened at primary school just before Joe left that worried him. Thankfully he spoke to me immediately. So many children didn’t speak to their parents.
Teach them right from wrong this goes without saying right?
Make it clear you are a parent and not a friend; you are in charge of their safety and wellbeing. There will be times you have to enforce rules and make lifestyle changes if needed.
Encourage family time, this is so important. I still insist we all dine together; they would rather eat in their rooms at times. But 5 nights out of 7 we all eat together giving us time together.
We also plan regular meals out as a family to get that extra family time
Plan holidays that everyone wants to be part of to keep them travelling with you.
Communicate with school/college. Make it clear you want to be part of their education and will provide that support.
Hope and pray you have got it right so far!
Being a parent to teens is amazing, we have loved watching the boys grow into amazing young men. Travelling together as a family and sharing amazing memories is just incredible. But it is also a time when you constantly question your resolve. Be strong and trust your instinct.