Monday, October 28, 2019

Teens to Adults - Talk and listen

Luckily I had the foresight to name this blog, "blokthoughtsnmore". It's so random and more of a journal than really anything else. I have followed bloggers/influencers/whatever we are calling them now about parenting for many many years. Usually it is about their baby, toddler, tween... and sometimes teen... but rarely have I found people talking about their teen who is rapidly turning to an adult right before their eyes and how they go from parent to a guide of sorts. Ya know? I know there is information out there, but not much.

Maybe it's difficult to explain because until you go through it, there really aren't any words for the multitude of emotions that attack you around every corner of this experience.

My son is 17, my daughter now 14. They are at this stage in life where I have to transition a bit of how I parent and it is all together... well... hard. We go from them needing us for every physical and emotional need you can think of, to them needing us on a different level. They mostly can take care of their physical needs, if there was any reason either of them had to live on their own right now, I have every faith they could do it AND not only that but be successful at it. Their friends are taking on a lot of their emotional needs, whether they know it or not. Even though they are gone a lot I still need to make sure they understand they are loved and have a safe place to land while still toeing the line of parent and guide.

When they were younger, if they made a wrong choice or had bad behavior, I corrected right then by my own consequences I delivered based on their action, or what consequences came natural, and let them know why it was wrong and why they wouldn't be allowed to make the mistake/or repeat the bad behavior again. Now though...if they make what I deem a wrong choice, I have transitioned and have felt that my job is to help them understand and work through what motivated them to do it and whether they even want to change it - and how to guide them along that path, so that when I am not there for them to talk to, they know how to do it on their own, in a healthy way and without too much shame or guilt to block them from growing and moving forward. My job is to protect them, yet let them choose and I find that is a difficult thing to try and do or figure out. I want to cocoon them in safety not allowing the world to affect them, but that isn't reality, so I constantly swallow my fear for them and their choices. It's really hard, but NO one prepares you for that, or tells you that you have to flip any switch or that there even is this transition, so a lot of parents just continue to dictate their kids choices and behaviors even as they make this transition from Older Teen to Young Adult and from my side of things, it doesn't go well very well. So now that I am in the middle of all of this, I thought I'd talk about it.

So for the sake of keeping this post short. Here is one thing I have found to work with my kids and this weird transition we are in. My goal has always been that they feel safe to talk to me about ANYTHING. So while they were young, I endured many minute and small insignificant stories, but seemed like a big deal to them, so that I practiced listening and they practiced talking with me as an audience. I know that they will never share EVERYTHING with me, but my hope is that they share most things with me - and then have another safe adult they share the rest with. There have been plenty of times where I have wanted to completely lose my crap from something they told or admitted to me... but I didn't, (well most of the time I didn't, when I have, I have always apologized for my reaction admitting to being imperfect) we talked it through and later, in my bedroom, I would cry or vent to my husband, and then after I flipped out, we would chat about what our next steps should be so that our children understood the freedom they had to choose for themselves, but that we are always here to help them through whatever it is they need. So they feel safe to tell me most things, what they don't tell me, we have agreed they tell someone so they don't hold the hard stuff in and that had helped with this weird transition we are in. We still aren't perfect at this, but the point is we try really hard!

So talking to them, but a lot of listening. Not just when they are young and depend on you for everything and they believe everything you say, not just when it's important, but when it's dumb, or silly, or obsolete. When they want to talk, you stop and take the time to do it. I haven't always been perfect, and at different times I have found that one kid is easier to talk to than the other, it depends on them and what they are going through at any given moment, but we always, always, talk.  Because when the hard conversations come, and they WILL come, we are ready to delve into it together and I am in the KNOW of what is going on in their lives, even if it isn't the life I designed in my head they would have, I still am part of it and THAT is important.

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