In the last few years, I’ve noticed something odd. When I would tell people that my daughter was 13 (or 14), they’d furrow their brow, and say “oohh,” with a mixture of cynicism and sympathy that I found puzzling. As if they were saying, oh, too bad, those are difficult years. I have not found that to be the case.
My daughter turned 15 yesterday, my son turned 13 three weeks ago. They are both delightful kids. Are they different from when they were younger? of course. They will ride in the car with me and say very little sometimes, but when my daughter and her friends are in her room, the chatter is constant. I think what helps is that I realize this is appropriate behavior, from a developmental point of view. I am trying to parent with the end in mind, and having them become more independent, having their friends take an increasingly important role, is a step in the right direction–toward growing up.
They still enjoy time with us, which is great. Last night, in our birthday tradition, my daughter got to pick the menu (steak and potatoes). We ate as a family, and went around the table, each saying what we liked about her. (another important birthday traditon at our house). Her brother offered things like “you’re not always mean to me” which we laughed about and asked him to try and state in a positive way. Her dad and I each offered blessings as well.
We played Ping Pong, video games, and dominoes. We ate chocolate cheesecake and laughed.
All this week, during spring break, Melanie has either had her friends over or been at their homes. Our house has been full of noise and energy. Tonight we’ll have a group of her friends over for dinner and a sleepover, since they’re kind of beyond the age for birthday parties (which, I have to admit, is a relief. I was not so good at entertaining a bunch of kids for a few hours when they were younger).
I respect who my daughter is becoming–a woman of faith. I try to name her strengths out loud–she’s a leader, a loyal friend, kind, sure of her opinions–not just on her birthday but often.
Question: what are some of the joys and challenges of parenting, in your experience? What advice or questions do you have?
I loved each stage. Each had their unique challenges, but also rewards. Now that mine our in their twenties, I love that stage too. Now I’m mom to six — three new in-law children, who I love as much as if I had given birth to them.
I love this post, Keri. : )
One of the things that I have learned recently..is even if you teen pulls away from your hug , needing to be an independent being and all…they still need touch. Just grab their shoulder as you go by, touch their arm when you chat with them, touch them on the back as they go out the door, they may not realize you are even doing it, but it fills a need subconsciously and it really makes a difference. They can feel like individuals without having to be totally separate from your physical love. Its just a small thing that makes a big difference in their attitude. With boys we tend to pull back from them more than girls as they grow up and because they often don’t seek or accept mama’s physical hugs etc. But they still need touch. Its as if it grounds their being. My boys are so much happier with family and themselves when I’ve take time daily to simply put my hand on their back or shoulder on a off during the day. they don’t even realize it…But God made us to be connected.
I agree with you, I love the teen-“age.”
My boys are 21 and 19 and my daughter’s 17 & 4 (adopted from China).
I found that by shifting my parenting to more of a “mentor” really helped me to get through many of the changes. There was no question that I (my husband and I) was in charge, but I reminded myself to treat them less like my little kids and more like I would treat one of the kids in our youth group.
By respecting and encouraging them, I gained more access into their lives.
I also agree that we need to have the mindset that we are raising them to go. We are preparing them for the challenges and joys that life has to offer them.
It is hard when they move out (my oldest is in NYC attending Amy Pohler’s school and doing the comedy club circuit), but when we know that the goal is for them to leave and find their own lives, it makes it much easier.