Parenting is NOT for the faint of heart. Problem is there’s no way to know that until you’re “in it.” Sure, parents may warn you beforehand, but you think, “I will be different. My children will be great because I’m going to ace parenthood.” You already know what you’ll do differently from your parents, or you’ll do everything exactly as they did – depending on your family history.
You survive the sleep deprivation of infancy. Your child survives the physical dangers that tempt toddlers. And you feel a wonderful sense of pride as you send them off on their first day of kindergarten. Life hums along and you confidently think as God did when looking at creation, “Yes. This is good.”
But then something happens. You’ve “got” this parenting thing, you’ve hit your stride – and the next moment you realize you’re in the middle of a minefield and you have no idea if the next step you make will set off a BOMB. You have no idea how to move your feet – in what direction or how far. Each step you make could have far-reaching and serious consequences. How did this happen? How did you end up here? It’s called…
A D O L E S C E N C E
Adolescence is a minefield. You tell yourself you’ll do things better than your parents – and you WILL. BUT… you and your teenager will find other roadblocks in your way instead. Ones you could never have anticipated. You’ll find yourself replaying scenes from your own adolescence. You’ll be amazed at the buttons your teenager is able to push, and how you fall for it without even realizing. And the hormones and developmentally exploding brain! Sometimes all I have to do is look at my daughter the wrong way and a bomb goes off! Say “no” to a request one night and I get a shrug and a grumble. Say “no” to a similar request on another night and the roof comes off the house and she hates me. One moment your child is the most generous, kind human on the planet, and the next acting like the most selfish, thoughtless human being in history.
Career goals start to come into play. You might end up looking at your child and saying, “Who are you and what have you done with my baby?” or “How could this child be MINE?” You have expectations of college and your son aspires to be a heavy metal drummer. You see a lawyer before you, but your daughter wants to be a mechanic. Or conversely, you wish you had a liberal daughter who would want to be a heavy metal drummer and she wants to be a lawyer for the Republican party! How far do you let them go in following a dream, especially if it’s risky (like the drummer) while trying to prepare them in case the dream fails (which in their eyes it could never, because adolescence). And can you prepare them at all, because of course you’re the last person in the world they want to listen to!
If their other parent is involved in their life, it’s a minefield you have to maneuver with your co-parent as well. When the kids are small decisions are fairly easy – keeping your child physically safe, how much tv, how much processed food, when should bedtime be etc… But when your child hits adolescence, you may find your parenting styles differ. (And no matter how much you’ve talked about parenting styles and philosophies before, when you’re “in it,” it’s a different thing.) Your different childhoods may clash. Your different views of the world may clash. Things like gender expectations, how boys and girls are treated, the kind of freedom you want (or don’t want) to give your son or daughter.
There are decisions to make like:
- “when does she get to go to a mixed gender party?”
- “How late can he stay out?”
- “How old does she have to be before I DON’T have to know everyone she’s going to the movies with?”
- “When do we let him drive with friends?”
- “How often do we check the parent’s page on the school website to see his grades? Every day? Once a week? At progress report time?”
Many times you have to make up your mind or set the rule on the spur of the moment, because they’ll fling a situation at you that you hadn’t thought about, and you don’t have time to say, “let me track down dad/mom and discuss it with them first.” And woe to you if it’s a decision your co-parent disagrees with! And then, if you stick by your guns, but have a standing agreement with your co-parent that you don’t “put down” the other parent in front of the child, you find yourself defending an opinion to your child that you don’t hold yourself! My husband and I have had fights before. Heck, we’ve been married for twenty years, we’ve had LOTS. But the disagreements we’ve had over parenting styles and decisions now that our oldest is fifteen are HARD. Really hard.
A minefield I tell you!!!
I have no words of wisdom. No advice on how to get through it, because I’m still IN it. Pray for me – and I’ll pray for you.