Inside: loving (and getting along) with your teenager may look a bit different.
This is me, loving you, my big kid.
Biting my tongue and biding my time.
Thinking. And waiting.
And it’s hard—SO hard—because it’s such a switch from what parenting you used to look like.
When you were little, loving you usually involved a lot of talking and doing. Like that time you tipped too far back in your little plastic chair and gashed your head on the edge of the fireplace hearth.
Then, I leaped into action and started talking.
Then, I picked you up and took you into the bathroom, and told you what to do and what not to do.
Then, I called the doctor and took you in and called your teacher and told her you wouldn’t be at preschool that day.
Then, I took you home and took care of you and told you more about what to do and what not to do.
Then things started to change a little bit.
But now, when it looks to me like you’re getting close to tipping your chair too far back or I’m not sure I’m crazy about the chair you’re sitting in in the first place, I mostly have to force myself to be still and be silent.
It’s not that I am not parenting you. It’s just that over all the years up until now, everything I said and everything I did was supposed to be preparing you for the time when I would do less and say less and watch you pick your chair and decide how far back in it you’re going to lean.
So I shut my mouth and sit on my hands and watch and wait.
But I AM saying something.
I’m saying I trust you and believe in you and understand my role in your life right now.
And I AM doing something.
I’m staying out of the way so you can make your way. I’m stepping back so you can step up.
It’s not easy, this new version of loving you. It is, to be perfectly honest, often excruciating.
But when I have a chance to see you right your own chair and find your own balance? Well that, my darling, is nothing short of exhilarating.
It’s me, loving you.
Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two daughters (one teen and one young adult) who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She’s been married for 25 years to an exceedingly patient guy she picked up in church. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter