Recently, I watched from the side as my husband nagged my young teenage daughter about putting on more cold-weather gear before soccer practice. She was frustrated because she already planned out what she was going to wear, and he wouldn’t stop.
He wasn’t wrong. It was cold and wet.
After a few minutes of bickering and near-tears, I finally looked at my amazing husband and said, “Stop. She either will bring more clothes or she’ll be cold. She may be miserable, but she’s not going to die. We can’t go to college with her and remind her to take a coat.”
And you may think that I’m wise because I’m picking my battles, but to be honest, that’s not it.
What Will You Do With the Time You Get With Your Teenager?
I was missing my big kid.
Yesterday, I only had about an hour that day to spend with her. She left for school early and came home late after a club meeting. I ran errands and came home right before she left for practice. When she arrived home, she was so tired that she watched TV with me for 15 minutes, and then she went upstairs to finish some homework, take a shower and go to bed.
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I only had 60 minutes with her yesterday, maybe not even that much–and I know I didn’t give her my full attention that entire span.
I realized that it’s not time that’s speeding up; but, it’s the amount of time I have with my kids each day is dwindling.
How do I want to spend that time? Can I pour enough love into her in an hour to get her through the trials of her day?
So, I told my husband to stop needling her about her gear, and when I told him why, he understood it, too.
Your Role Changes During the Teen Years
I’ve spent the first twelve years of my daughters’ lives teaching them lessons about how to care for themselves. Brush your teeth. Don’t forget to floss. Get your homework out of the way so you can relax. Be kind. Pick up after yourself. Help to pick up for others. Here’s how to make spaghetti and meatballs.
They already know so many life skills, and now that they are teenagers, it’s up to them to choose to use them where I can oversee.
They need to learn to make mistakes. They need to learn how to course correct. They need to learn how to bounce back.
They need to learn when to bring a coat and rain gear. I can’t go with them to college or be around in their first apartment or present at their job. I won’t always be there.
And while I’ll keep on teaching them how to survive in this world, set boundaries, and help them to become a productive adult–my job now is to encourage them in every way.
This Is How I Want to Spend Time With My Teenagers
I want to use that small amount of time I have each day to make sure my daughters know they are loved, that I am so proud of them, that they have a safe place to come home to every night.
I want to use my 3600 seconds to help them chase their dreams and talk about their problems and support them when they are stressed.
And while I know that we still will have fights about wet towels on the floor and dishes in the sink and why they did not walk the dog–I do not want to waste the small amount of time I have with them on this minutiae. I don’t want them to tune me out every time I open my mouth. I don’t want every conversation to end in tears.
This doesn’t mean I let them get away with being a slob or not adhering to their responsibilities–but the stuff that doesn’t matter, the stuff that I know they need to figure out on their own? Well, I’ve covered that.
Our time with our teens is limited, it’s moving fast, and it’s important. If you have the opportunity to pour some extra love in whatever time you have, do it.
They need it. You need it. And it’s really the only thing that matters.
Are you struggling with how to help guide your tweens and teens through adolescence? We highly recommend this book Parenting Teens with Love and Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood. From the authors of the bestselling Parenting with Love and Logic, this teen-specific resource empowers parents to raise responsible tweens, teens, and young adults without anger, nagging, or power struggles. Learn to set healthy boundaries, encourage important skills, and foster effective decision-making with empathy and grace.