Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Parenting Teens: When Does This Merry-Go-Round STOP?

I hope you never look back, but you never forget,
All the ones who love you, in the place you live,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
Oh, you find God's grace, in every mistake,
And always give more than you take.

But more than anything, yeah, more than anything
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too...
Yeah, this....is my wish.
-Rascal Flatts 

Things 1 and 2 off to school
Yesterday, I watched my eldest son walk away from the house toward his bus stop.  His head bowed, he looked more man than child as he moved.  His arms have become roped with the veins of a man and his face needs shaving more often than not.  

His brother, taller now by an inch or two, still loped away with the easy grace of a child. But I know, as I watch his limbs lengthen and hear the deepening in his voice, that he is also moving away from our shared life and into his own.

They're in tenth and eight grades respectively and they each have only a few more years to benefit from my daily tutelage and the day-to-day umbrella of my winsome personality.

I was talking with a friend this morning about my changing role as a parent.  "I don't WANT to tell them what to do anymore," I complained.  "I shouldn't have to tell them to take out the trash or mow the grass or do their homework."  Except, apparently, I do. I have an example from last semester that fully illustrates that point but it makes me tired to even think of it.

Here's the problem:  as they begin to LOOK more like men, I don't want to ACT like some woman nagging them to do what they're supposed to do.

See, I don't want them to get accustomed to the idea of, oh, if I don't live up to my responsibilities, some chick will just tell me that I need to do my laundry or feed the dogs or pick my socks up off the living room floor.  Scratch that, socks are found on every horizontal surface in my home.  I don't want to train them to be nagged.  Nor do I want them to live with a nagger.  There is nothing more miserable on this earth than being told constantly that you're simply not meeting expectations.

So how do I handle it?  I often let them fail.  A lot.  I don't rescue them nearly as much as I could.  Or maybe even as much as I should.  I won't let them completely screw their lives over just yet but I regularly just expect them to do what they should.  But, often, they don't.


I need to come up with solutions to ease them into adulthood without causing me to lose my tenuous grasp on sanity.  Or, I could just do what I always do..what I always HAVE done as a parent:  I need to keep adapting to their needs.  I need to continue to morph as a parent to ensure that I'm giving them what they need as they need it.  It's OK for me to pull back but probably not OK for me to expect them to behave like a 40-something adult when I can barely manage that on a regular basis.  So, fine, I'll keep reminding them.

They're gonna screw up.  They're gonna tick me off.  And my job is to love them through it.  And usher them into adulthood relatively unscarred and without excessive emotional baggage that they'll have to sort through with a professional.

For now, I'll continue to watch them walk away.  I'm growing accustomed to it.  I just hope that they know that they wear my heart on their backs.  And that, no matter what...no matter how many times they fail or, let's hope, succeed, that their mom will always be thankful that she only has to raise them once.

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