Parenting: What To Do When My Kiddo Grows Up?
Several years ago my child was entering her preteen years, and this was a real struggle for me – the fact that she was growing up. Not so much because I didn’t want her to grow up, but because as a teenager, I really couldn’t stand my parents.
I’ve always felt really comfortable caring for young children. I know what to do, how to handle myself and them, and just have overall sense of confidence when around the younger kids. As my daughter started heading towards 13, I panicked. I talked about it to anyone that would listen looking for guidance. How in the world was I going to cope with this? What was I going to do? All of a sudden I felt completely inept at parenting and was terrified. What was happening is that all of my own unresolved teen stuff was coming up for me to look at and heal.
Most folks I spoke with said the usual, “Your little baby is going to turn into a monster and you’re not going to recognize her.” Or some version of that. One woman said to me, “I told my daughter that her only job is to get through the next few years alive.” These are the people that believe being a teenager sucks and their sole purpose is to make their parents miserable. Well, I had higher expectations for my kiddo.
There was another voice from a smaller group of people who believed that the teenage years are a time of potential and exciting growth. These people encouraged me to hold a more positive focus and vision for my experience with my daughter during this time. Life doesn’t have to be hard, and I don’t have to expect that WWIII will erupt in my home during the next couple of years. Working on healing my own issues, my intention, attitude, and beliefs would shape the way I would interact with my amazing budding teen.
We managed to get through her teen years with very few bumps and lots of honest communication and loving. I’m grateful.
So what vision are you holding of your relationship with your child or teenager? Do you even have one? If not, create one. It’s never too late no matter how old your child is.
My encouragement is to develop your relationship with your child intentionally and consciously. What relationship do you want to have with your child? Loving and honest? A relationship that fosters open communication? What else?
Then, act in ways that will promote that relationship. Tell your child you love them often and hug and kiss them even if they try to push you away – even your teenagers! Apologize if you’ve been wrong. Be interested in what they’re doing and turn off the television when they’re around. Give them your undivided attention. Turn off the radio in the car and start a conversation with your child. No iPods or cell phones when having a conversation with others. (And this applies to you parents as well!)
Also, get into therapy or seek support for any frustration you feel with your child. Heal those childhood hurts to make yourself more available for the most important relationships in your life.
Let us know how you fare. Good luck and may the force be with you!