From Toddlers to Teenagers
They’re not so bad!
My teens are 13 & nearly 16, and it seems like only yesterday that they were toddlers!
I still know their (almost) every move. I (mostly) know what they’re thinking even when they don’t say anything. I know what their monosyllabic grunts mean (I talk teen!). I know what they’re passionate about and what they loathe. They still come to me when they’re feeling poorly. They still want (and need) cuddles.They still shout and make a fuss about the same things they always did. They still want to tell me about the latest great thing that happened to them.
They’re still my babies.
But they’re growing up fast, and there’s nothing I can do to slow it down.
Seriously, life has gone from worrying about how much sugar they’re eating, to them eating ALL the carbs as they grow 4 inches literally overnight; from learning all about building with Minecraft to record kills on Fortnite; from reading Biff and Chip to ‘reading’ Snapchat; from play dates in the garden to late night ‘gatherings’ at random teenager’s houses…
(Sometimes I am really grateful that we also have a 4 year old who keeps us all young at heart, playful and in the moment, and who we have to model ‘appropriate’ behaviour to otherwise there might be far more shouting!!)
But we are most certainly in a weird sort of twilight zone with our oldest where we are having to let her go more and more. Later and later into the night, with people we have never heard of let alone met. Which is very scary at times.
So how do we manage this?
I’ve always believed that you do the groundwork with them while they’re little, instilling into them your values and your key beliefs, and you let them go bit by bit as they grow, safe in the knowledge that they actually KNOW how to behave, and more importantly, they KNOW and TRUST that you’ll be there for them when they need you.
Fortunately the occasions where we have had to step in have been few and far between (so far), but they do happen.
And so we use these opportunities to talk. We choose to face into these as opportunities to learn and grow.
We have seen/found out about behaviour from our own children that we are less than happy with. We are aware of the behaviours of other teens that makes us cringe and worry whether we should tell their parents (yes).
But we try not to judge. Either teenagers or other parents.
I mean who are we to judge?
We are all doing our best as parents.
And we were all teenagers once.
So we choose to teach our children that failure is not something to be ashamed of or which defines you, as long as you learn from it.
And we talk. Always.
Even when its uncomfortable. Especially when its uncomfortable.
I don’t for a moment suggest that it’s easy to guide them, or to let them go. Tomorrow may well throw up an issue that needs facing into and talking about.
But it’s all holding the space for our children (for they are still children) to learn and grow and become fully rounded adults.
In summary, the teen years are as wonderful and as challenging as the early years. Just different. And, here’s the bonus, MOST of the time it’s like having your best, funniest, most brilliant friends living with you.