I figured something out this year about my parenting style: I am really really good at being the mom of infants and toddlers and even preschoolers, but somehow that style does not translate well into being the mom of older kids. The elementary years. The tween thing. The [shudder] teen thing. I am really good at nurturing and creating a supportive and safe environment, but I suck at letting go.
Is this you?
I suspect I am not the only one here. This stuff is haaaarrd.
I had an IM conversation with my 12-year-old today, and it hit me like a ton of bricks that he is going to be thirteen soon. A teenager. OMG. And I am still treating him like a little kid.
Oh, I’ve been letting go. I bought him a laptop for Christmas so he could have computer access when he’s at his dad’s house and now we don’t see him for days at a time. I let him choose his bedtime; he knows the consequences of staying up too late and he polices himself pretty well. I let him and his 8-year-old sister choose when to clean their rooms (with mixed results, but passable).
But there’s still this mindset within me: he needs me. He asks me for the antonym to “prominent” and I immediate start Googling before I think to ask if this is his homework. Oh, I know he needs me and always will, but I guess my point is that his needs are changing. And I am not keeping up.
So it’s times like this that I envy the parents who practice benign neglect. Keeping hands off a bit creates kids who are stronger and more resilient, who can make decisions and who have confidence. There’s a fine line, though, between support and suffocation. Between giving space and acting like you don’t care. And the line is always moving. Did I mention that this parenting thing is haaaarrd?
Do you think about this stuff? Talk to me here; tell us about a time when you noticed the line in your house was moving, and what you did about it.