Parenting teens is an interesting job.
The story goes that at age five I asked my Mom to stop walking me to school. I could do it myself and didn’t need anyone with me.
Apparently from that age on, I was just a really independent child.
So much so, that at age fourteen when my parents divorced, they were able to live their own lives and start over.
Most nights, I stayed home alone.
I made my choices.
I took care of me.
I watched out for my safety.
I chose when to come home for the night.
I made my meals.
I remember having mixed feelings about it. I knew I needed a loving parent to help me navigate this time in my life…..but I certainly didn’t miss all the rules and emotional chaos.
So I continued the story of my need for early independence–as I realized it set my parents free. I think even I believed that at fourteen I was capable of finishing the job.
Even though we try, teens today aren’t much different.
Teens, man. They have a way of presenting as if they don’t need us at all. Their toughest period in life is cased in the hardest matter to move towards.
Sometimes that tough exterior convinces us as parents that they are just fine without us. That we are free to go and do and build and this is the perfect time to do it. Because clearly we aren’t needed here.
I invite you to pause and to take a closer look.
When my own two reached the age of fourteen, it struck me just how much we are still truly needed. It made me look at my own early teen years with much different eyes.
Yet, it seems there is still some confusion amongst parents of teens.
A teen’s job is to push you away. They have to so they can individuate, so they can discover what is them and what is actually you.
They will shut themselves in their rooms right up until the moment you are needed. And then, it’s your time to shine baby.
Sure, your job may have shifted into taxi and funding their social lives, but make no mistake, this position is so important.
You are the shoulder on the way to and the way from. You are the guide reminding them who they are and whose they are. You are a set of eyes and ears that reminds them someone is watching and someone cares.
Yep, lots of waiting around doing nothing.
Lots of time on the couch when you could be doing something else.
You may also like to read: Why You Shouldn’t Always Trust Your Teens To Make Good Choices
Ample time in the car listening to your favorite podcast. Time to feel the fear and the pull of the next chapter.
Nobody ever told us that this time in parenting will leave you with so much space and that you will question your place in their lives.
You will begin to should yourself for what you could be doing with all of this newfound time, and then be interrupted by a request to pick up four girls instead of three on the way.
It may appear that this would be the perfect time for you to start your next chapter. And I invite you to pause.
This is a chapter. All on its own.
This chapter reads slower and you may need to read a few passages several times to fully absorb. Some of the material will be new to you and I encourage you to meet it with curiosity and compassion, not that judgment that likes to spring forth.
In this chapter you will no longer be playing the lead character, you are now in a supporting role. Less glory, and you won’t have as many lines. Make sure they count.
Breathe. This is right where you are supposed to be.
This discomfort. it’s FOR you.
Sit in it and get to know it.
Absorb this chapter just as you have chapters in the past.
I know it doesn’t feel as good, and I’m sorry for that.
But this chapter, this chapter isn’t about you.
In this chapter we watch them shine.
We are the silent foundation in this chapter.
In this chapter, they have the pen.
We are waiting for the times they hand it to us.
And they will….and they do…..and it continues.
This chapter is all about reading what they write.
Being the loudest one in the room applauding.
Standing in the back watching the world receive them.
Smiling and knowing that you are rocking this chapter so that they can move on to the next with confidence and courage.
Full-time availability for a part-time job.
Hurry up and wait.
You got it.
This is the gig.
This is a contributed piece by Kerry Foreman. Kerry Foreman is a Registered Psychotherapist practicing in Colorado. She offers Mindfulness Coaching, Personal Growth Coaching, and Parent Coaching nationally and internationally. Kerry is a writer, a system questioner, a non-conformer. She is a partner of twenty-four years to her best friend, a mom to two teens, a daughter, sister, friend, and trauma survivor. While Kerry wears many hats, she considers one of her most important ones to be healer. Self-healing and reaching out to help others on this journey. Kerry offers personal growth groups, parenting groups, and teen groups to assist on that journey. Find out more at www.kerryforeman.com or find her on Facebook or Instagram.