about raising adolescents.
The shit is about to get real.
Raising kids, consistently, is the most exhausting, monotonous activity. By the time children reach an age where they can feed themselves, pick out their clothes, and do their own homework, parents are extremely fatigued.
“Sit like a human.”
“Chew with your mouth closed.”
“Say please and thank you.”
“Be nice to the weird kid.”
“Don’t speak to me with that tone.”
These daily statements have been played on repeat for over ten years.
Just when adolescence begins, mom and dad are close to the edge. The turkey is cooked, almost. Almost because this portion of the journey is nearing an end, but never truly finishes. The worry, the care taking, the teaching continues indefinitely. Our children will always need us, but not in the ways we expect, or always welcome.
So, why do parents (especially moms) speak incessantly about our babies’ first years and our toddlers’ development, but then around fourth grade we clam up?
Are we seeing the holes in our parenting? Do we recognize our child’s humanity with all of their flaws as mirrors of our own selves? Is work consuming us to the point of disconnection? Or, are we literally devastated to realize what the experts agree: that birth to three years are the pivotal time of attachment and learning. Do we fear that we blew it? Is it too late to make an impact on our adolescents?
Or, are we blind? Do we live in a fantasy world of not my kid. She is a good girl. So modest. So hard working. He is a kind boy. So athletic. So full of life.
We tell ourselves that we have been good parents: better than some, worse than others. We convince our minds to quiet the fears surrounding sex, alcohol, vaping, drugs, eating disorders, mental illness, driving accidents, etc. We desperately want to believe our adolescent children’s version of their truth. We need to be their champion and gatekeeper.
And, then it happens. Your kid. Yup, when you are looking right dealing with a problem, a left hook knocks you down. Your kid does something so out of character that is shocking. You begin to look for your eyeglasses, wondering if you need bifocals. Have you been near or far sighted? Either way, you have not seen the worst unfolding. You did not protect your child from others and most importantly from themselves. You dropped the ball.
You get that phone call: from the principal, from a friend, from your spouse, from someone in authority. You will rise each morning wondering if it is actually true. Did your sweet child do that? Every day you will agonize over what you could have changed? How did you miss the signs? Have you always sucked at parenting?
You think that your kid will handle social media responsibly.
You think that your kid is generally nice to others at school.
You think that your kid will be cautious sexually.
You think that your kid will not drink or use any substances.
You think that your kid is responsible and thoughtful.
You think that your kid will not devastate you.