Disclaimer: I am not stating we are fabulous parents by any means. I am just sharing some tips that have worked for us so far when raising teenagers. My kids are still 13, 15, and 17, so we still have many parenting years ahead of us. We are by no means perfect!
Well, yesterday was the last day of school for my kiddos! I absolutely love summer and having the kids back at home. I envision so much fun for the summer. Trip to Myrtle Beach, swimming in Lake Huron, barbecues, four-square, and more. What’s not to love? (Besides heat, humidity and mosquitos…)
Even though I am thrilled the kids are home for summer vacation, I can’t believe how fast this school year has gone. It is just shocking that I have 3 teenagers, and my oldest son is graduating next year. I remember when he started kindergarten like it was yesterday. When I walked him to that classroom the first time, I remember thinking “He won’t graduate for 13 years, and I still have 2 kids at home to enjoy”. Two years later, my daughter went to school, and two years after that, my youngest started kindergarten, and my nest was empty for 7 hours a day. However, even when my youngest was in kindergarten, I still felt like the kids would be young for a really long time. Graduation seemed like an event so far in the distance that it never even crossed my mind.
My how those years flew by…
Flash forward to 2011. My oldest is officially a ‘senior’ now and is going to graduation parties left and right. My daughter is also headed to a lot of those same graduation parties, but not nearly as many. She will be taking the PSAT in the fall and will start receiving billions of college pamphlets in the mail soon enough. My youngest will be starting his last year of middle school in September! Where did my little 5 year olds go? Where are the kids I could swing around in a circle in the backyard? These kids have now grown into wonderful teenagers, two of which are taller than me.
Don’t Believe Everything You Hear
As I reflect on the fact that my kids have gotten older, I remember all the people that told me how awful the teen years would be, and that I needed to enjoy my kids when they were young. Well, I did enjoy my kids when they were little, and when they were medium, and now that they are big. Just like women that love to share horrible labor stories, there are those people that love to tell you how awful life is going to be as the kids are older.
That’s not to say that the teen years are just full of joy and family serenity. However, all years in life have their issues. I can honestly say I enjoy spending time with my kids as much now as I did when they were little. What is great is I can have such interesting conversations with the kids and we can laugh at the same things. The things you do with the kids are different as they get older, but that doesn’t mean it is bad.
Don’t Give Up!!!
However, you do have some control over the relationship you have with your children as they get older. I do recognize that sometimes things happen with kids that are beyond a parent’s control, and not every child is born to be a wonderful teenager. But one thing I have found is that it is imperative to keep the lines of communication open with your child through all phases of life. I have seen so many parents basically drop out of their kid’s lives when the kids got older, but kids need their parents no matter what age they are. Sure it can be hard to figure out where you ‘fit in’ to your child’s life as they become more social and bogged down with school. However, there is no reason why you can’t interact. There are opportunities everyday to reconnect with your children. Maybe it can be during a long car ride, or while standing in line at the store. Regardless of how and where, find a way to stay in touch with your kids, and also have fun and laugh with them. No, you don’t want to be your child’s best friend, but you also don’t want to just be the person that yells and criticizes them all the time.
I will admit, I am curious to see how my relationship with my son will change as he heads off to college. I won’t know nearly as much about his day-to-day life as I do now, so I am sure our topics of conversation will be different. Again, our relationship will change, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad change. (That is what I am telling myself…)
For all of you out there that have older children, what is one piece of advice you would give to those parents out there that still have little ones? Anything you are glad you did as a parent? Share your wisdom!!