There are days when as a parent of two teens, I can’t turn a trick.
Thankfully, today was not one of those days. We had a rather pleasant afternoon over lunch celebrating my mother’s birthday as a family. My mother has the most amazing knack of bringing out the best in my children. Mind you, they also bring out the best in her and today was no exception. I suppose she’s a safe zone for them, a whole lot of love without any need for prodding them to do stuff. Gratitude thy name is mother and I love the fact that my children have grandparents they can and do turn to.
This last year or so of parenting has left me sitting here feeling very ineffective. Forget the fiscal cliff, what I’m talking about is the parental cliff and I’ve sailed right over. On my way through the free fall, I find myself latching on to any small branch of commonality with others similarly in free fall, swapping stories in an attempt to gain any insight into how to cushion this landing. Then there’s the desperate clutching onto anything resembling something remotely positive or connective from said teens.
Every parent strives towards producing independent adults who will contribute positively to the human race. And by contribution, I don’t mean splitting the atom, creating the next big Internet phenomenon or brokering world peace. Whilst, all of these are wonderful objectives and worth striving towards, really all I want for my children is to happy and independent in whatever lawful path they choose.
And there’s the rub. To get to that point, our children have to make their own declaration of independence. And the process can be brutal. Deep down inside I applaud this final snip of the umbilical cord. In fact I would be more concerned if it didn’t come. The issue really is that whilst it’s happening, the family still has to function and we all need to still take care of business. Except that now their business is no longer my business except when I should have known it was my business from the subliminal messages that now pass for parent/teen communications.
Which is why I feel like I’m currently walking on egg shells without a safety net.
The approach to a teen requesting them to do the most basic of things involves the strategy of Sun Tzu, the diplomacy skills of Henry Kissenger and the timing skills of Warren Buffett. The slightest miscalculation can have lingering repercussions and usually
someone me ends up losing a finger, or even worse, credibility. And all of this happening at a time which certainly feels like my parental report card is being handed down showing a series of Fs.
I wish I had some witty wisdom to impart on how to get through this. However, it has suddenly left me, no doubt buried under the piles of clothes in my teens’ bedrooms.
Perhaps I really should follow my teens’ advice to “Not take it so personally, mum” and instead go searching for my recently departed sense of humour. I think I’m going to need it for what’s still ahead.
15 thoughts on “Walking on Egg Shells Without A Safety Net #NaBloPoMo”
That ‘not taking it personally’ part can be key, actually, though it’s easier said than done. Teens need to pull away from us, and sometimes they do so in ways that can be unintentionally hurtful. I have to remind myself that this is part of the process. I just read the book ‘Nurture Shock’ in which studies found that argument was actually productive for teens as long as discussion occurred and the teens got something out of it as well (ie, compromise). I have to remind myself everyday that teens aren’t meant to show us appreciation. That will come later. But some days the expectations that go along with being a teenager can get trying for the parent. Arghhh.
Arghhh is right. I wonder if too, it is the expectations that go along with being a parent. I have recently started to question whether we are entitled to any about our children’s lives. The ability to argue productively and compromise are key skills to independence and I suppose it is a good thing that they practice learning these with us.
I raised my daughter as a single parent. She’s married now with a family of her own.
I didn’t think I would make it out alive during her teen years. She had a reason or excuse for everything and my name was dirt. As well, I was so far behind the times, it was a wonder I managed to get out of bed (her idea not mine).
Eventually this too passes, Mom, but don’t hold your breath. You must remember to breathe and lighten up even as it kills you to do so. I wish I had. 🙂
Thanks for your wisdom. My mantra at the moment is that this too shall pass.
Sounds good.. Go with it. 🙂
I don’t have kids of my own but have witnessed this same dynamic between family and friends’ parents and teens. All I can say is that it does get better. Living through it can turn your hair gray, though. Humor and the support of other parents who are or have gone through this is vital. Good luck.
Thank you. The more I reach out the more I get a sense that this is not unique to our family. too late about the gray hair though 🙂
I love it, so glad you wrote this
Thanks for being my sounding board. I really love bouncing ideas with you.
Oh the teens – the barriers, the heartache, the messy rooms, the unforgiving, insensitive moments. The yes I hate you – you don’t understand me – then the teens pass, and they become little adult human beings…I hated snipping the cord really hated it. The eldest left now married and we spend quality time. The youngest (26) still here…hmm is it wrong of me to say the cord was clipped long ago.. time to spread those wings? Deep breath – sense of humour and know above all else, you are never alone. 🙂 x
Thank you, just thank you :)xx
you lovely are most welcome 🙂 xx
Judy, great post. We came to a conclusion with our three that there are opportunities to say something negative toward a teen (who has been less than perfect or just totally messed up) every day. So, we stopped and chose to pick our battles. We kept thinking that they will only remember us having negative conversations. So, in my rides to school with the kids,rather than say “did you remember to…..” I started just wishing them well as they pop out of the car. It greatly improved the lines of communication. They also seem to like stories about how we fell down and got back up. It shows we all make mistakes. Your great sense of humor and storytelling serves you well. Take care and g’day mate, BTG
Very wise strategy BTG. I have come to roughly the same conclusions and am consciously working on my communication. My storytelling and humour seems to have left me at the moment and am hoping both will return before too long. I must remember to tell them a few stories about my stumbles. Thank you for that tip. I hope you are taking care also.