There has been a date on my calendar that has caused me anxiety for months. It has been the anticipation of my daughter entering her teenage years. This date has thrown up all sorts of emotion with me as I have struggled with what this next phase in time would entail for her as it marked a surge in her independence and a new era in parenting for me. Being a parent of a teen is unknown territory and has had me queasy and asking questions to all of the moms that I know that have walked these steps before me. As exciting as this special day has felt for her, I knew that for me it was the first turn of the tides of her encroaching upon adulthood.
We have laid the basics of being a good person out for her since before she was born and now at this tender age of thirteen she is going to get to start really putting these life skills into practice. My memories of being a teenager flood back and have terrified me as I anticipate her next steps. When she is confronted with friend drama, will she know how not to succumb? When the boy that she secretly likes decides he isn’t going to give her the time of day will she be able to handle the rejection. Perhaps, it’s the idea that maybe he likes her too is even more frightening. Will she feel invincible when it comes to dangerous choice? The fear can make a parent’s head spin.
In parenting thus far we have laid out all of the groundwork and I think so many of us feel like its now time to step back and see how we did. I have seen so many parents disengage and move into the friend zone with their teens just because they could handle a little more responsibility. If my child is reading this, please don’t take this the wrong way but I have no desire to be your friend right now. I am not done raising you and this is what that means.
I want to hear about your day. I may not jump into fix your problems but I am going to work with you to think through them and react accordingly. I will advocate for you by teaching you to analyze your choices on your own. I am here to guide you, but my role isn’t the fixer anymore. I need you to know how to solve things on your own. Don’t worry, I am not abandoning my parental role here, I am strengthening your skills to be an adult.
I will be here when you need to cry. Goodness knows that you have enough hormonal energy to power a vehicle right now. But, I won’t let you wallow. When you fall down the rabbit hole of worry I am going to be there with an arm to pull you out. When all you can see is what you lack, I will be prepared to bombard you with the truth of how abundantly blessed and awesomely created you already are.
When you roll your eyes at me and believe I am as dumb as rocks, I am going to stumble. But, I promise to not waiver in my commitment to looking after your best interest even when this temporarily makes me the bad guy. I know that to you, I am old but when I say I have been there I mean it. But, I also promise to acknowledge that you are not me, my mistakes or my own ambitions. I will recognize that what you are going though is your own and I will honor your perspective.
When you are slacking, I am still going to nag. I know this won’t win me any popularity contests in your book but its because I believe in your potential. I am with you and for you, always. This is in academics, sports and in life. When I make you double check your math it because you will want to know how important reviewing is before submitting. It makes a difference on your grades now and on your taxes as an adult. When you commit to a sport or an instrument I am going to hold you to practicing. I am raising you to honor promises and to hold you to your best because being complacent and lazy are not admirable qualities to any future employer or spouse. Trust me, you have to give everything you have in those areas and you its hard to develop that kind of drive as adult.
Lastly, when you are stuck in the land of your own ego, I won’t let you stay there. I know how it easy is to get bogged down in what you look like, what your accolades are and what other people think of you. But, I promise to always meet your self-image and concerns with perspective. We live in a great big world and have deep rooted things instilled in our DNA. Everyone was meant to be a change maker, but as much as that has to do you with you, it also will require you to look beyond yourself, your circumstances and to meet others where they are. The need for kindness will always start with you even when it isn’t extended to you first.
That’s my promises to you. The teen years may frustrate us both but I am ready. No more being scared of what the future may hold. Because, you my child are already remarkable. Now we are accountable to each other. So, here we go teen years. No more parental anxiety on my end, I am ready for you!