I know, I know…it is the new year and you are expecting some great healthy recipes, some fun new workouts, and perhaps a motivational speech or two. It IS January. As a society, we have come to expect the ebb and flow of our year and this is what you want now, right? The predictable, “New Year, Fresh Start” blog posts that come with January are filled with hope and expectation. WELL, as much as I love a new recipe, a motivational quote and a fresh new approach, if you are a mom of teens or young adults life continues along its unpredictable course leaving you with WTF moments no matter what month it is.
My family just returned from a wonderful post Christmas vacay. My hubby and I and 5 teens (three of our own, and two friends) headed to a sunny clime to spend some time together before the madness of school and activities hit high speed again. Down time is always a little disturbing for me. I love it of course, but I find that my brain starts to work overtime. As my husband says, I need to just chill. But as moms, down time can be when we are most creative, but also when we are most reflective and critical of ourselves and the job we are doing as parents. So over the holiday, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how I have to apply very different parenting strategies to each child in order to get a similar result.
When our oldest started into his teen years, I was certainly green – but you grow with them and what choice do you have? You are a rookie! You figure out what works and what doesn’t and most definitely make mistakes along the way. Then, the road kind of smoothes out and you think to yourself “I’ve got this.. I know what’s up. I know what to expect…” Then all of a sudden the second child comes along, and all of the tricks you learned and mistakes you grew from no longer apply. What worked for that one, just doesn’t work for this one. Oh, and then throw a third into the mix – perhaps of a different gender and WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS??
Oh – I know. We all went through it when they were little. As babies they are all different too. One sleeps through the night, the other is colicky. One is outgoing, the other is shy. But why oh why when they are old enough to pee in the potty and cut their own meat, don’t things get just a little easier? Is it too much to ask that even 2 out of the 3 that come from the same genetic make up be similar? Apparently, yes. BUT – as babies and young children they do not recognize that you are employing different parenting strategies in order to teach them the ways of the world. As teens, we face an entirely different challenge – because usually they are on to us. OR, at the very least, they recognize differences in our parenting style from sibling to sibling. This is where it gets really difficult.
If you have several teens in your house, without a doubt there are different dynamics to each relationship. One might take guidance better from you, and one from your partner. They might turn to each other for advice. Or they may not turn to anyone. In addition to that, what might be “right” for one, may not be the perfect path for another. Navigating all of this is HARD. And as I have already stated in previous blogs, we don’t know what the hell we are doing!!!
As they start making life decisions, what is the best method to presenting a fair, balanced approach to parenting that still garners positive results? AND how hard is it when they are starting to make decisions that you think might end in disappointment? I’ve been racking my brain for the answer and this is what I have come up with at this point. We need to let them fail.
Every child, no matter how they “need” to be parented thrives on unconditional love and one skill, RESILIENCE. We cannot prevent our children from feeling pain, hurt, or disappointment, but we can prepare them for the ride. I think in order to do this, we need to walk the line between too much and too little guidance and support. I have real trouble allowing my kids to fail. I always want to swoop in and rescue them. For sure, as I become a more “experienced” parent, I am getting better at it, but it still is hard to watch and it doesn’t get any easier. The truth is, that consequences of poor decisions are sometimes costly, often embarrassing, or at best inconvenient – but as they say, experience is the best teacher. The one thing I can say about parenting three very different teens is this. They are ALL going to fail at some point. They are ALL going to face consequences to their actions, and they are ALL going to have to deal with those consequences. My job is to make sure they are ALL able to be resilient in the face of these challenges and just be there to love them no matter what.
“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.”Gever Tulley
SO – after my vacay, and being left alone with my thoughts I am still struggling with parenting and still struggling with making it all make sense in our family. Hormones, mood swings, personality differences of our teens still teeter in a rather unstable way at the top of my mind. All I can say is, I am doing my best and for heavens sake, I hope I am not alone…
Comment on your latest teen struggle, success or tactic for parenting below. AND never fear, Danni and I have lots of cool recipes, motivational quotes and more teen angst to share with all of you in the new year, so stick around!