Am I Doing Enough for My Kids?

Every so often, I get this panicked feeling that I’m not doing enough for my kids to help them succeed. #raisingteens

We’ve never been an “over-achieving” family. I’ve written about raising average kids before and how I am perfectly fine with that. I don’t need them to be doctors or lawyers, or physicists or to run their own technology empire. If they do, that’s fabulous, but if they don’t, then I’m good with that too. I want them to be happy in whatever career they choose. And I want them to choose something that allows them to pay their own bills, and maybe provides them a house with an extra room for me and my husband in our golden years (A girl can dream can’t she?).

But I’m talking about MY responsibility to THEIR future.

I have a 15-year-old. And suddenly, I feel like time is running out to teach her everything I need to teach her before she takes on the world on her own, or at least partially on her own (I don’t plan on kicking her out the front door the day after high school graduation).

While a lot of our youth seem to be floundering, with their noses stuck in their computer screens or smartphones, I worry that we haven’t done enough to inspire them to want better for their lives. But I don’t want to push or nag either, because I’ve seen the results of that scenario too.

But there are things looming in the not so distant future: SATs, driver’s license, job, college applications, scholarships to find. My rational mind tells me that this isn’t going to come all at once, and that there will be waves of responsibility and opportunity that come her way, and we’ll deal with it when we get there. But what if I fail at the parenting part and miss those deadlines. Then what?! The consequences for missed opportunities are much greater at this age than they were at age 10.

To look back now, potty training was a breeze compared to the weight I feel at the moment. By the way, my condolences to anyone going through potty training – it was, until now, the one part of the whole “parenting thing” where I felt completely unprepared. There was no manual, and if there was, I swear my kids didn’t read it! LOL

When I approach my teen, I’m met with eye rolls, and push back, and a lot of silence. Maybe I’m trying too hard. Maybe this too, shall pass. But I need to find the teen manual and find it quick. We all read “What to Expect when You’re Expecting” before our kids were born. Is there a “What to Expect when You’re Expecting a Teen?” Because I’d really like to have it on hand for reference right about now.

So, to my fellow parents of teens, am I alone in this? Will this, like potty training, happen when they are ready? Or should I rip the training pants off now, and spend the next few months cleaning up the puddles?

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Letter to my teenage children

 

It’s a precarious tightrope that parents walk: wanting to keep you safe and needing to let you go.

I need to give you enough rope to wander away, but not lose sight of home, yet still enough to pull yourself back home without getting tangled up in the process.

I want to guide you and help you with the circumstances that cross your paths, but I want you to use the tools we’ve given you to try to solve your own problems.

I want to give you freedom to experience things in your young life that will help form your opinions, your relationships and your joy. I want them to be your opinions and not mine, even if they are different from mine.

I can’t be there all the time. The world is a big place. It’s a place of wonder, a place of amazing sights and sounds, and, unfortunately, a place of danger too.

So how do I protect you without smothering you? How do I wait patiently by while you may not make the choices I would choose for you? How do I let you go and hope that you remember everything we’ve taught you? How do I know that you will come home when you get in over your head? How do I know you’ll seek wise counsel, even if it isn’t mine? I have to have faith.

I know you’ll try things you shouldn’t because, like you, I was young and curious once too. I know you’ll make mistakes, because I have, and still do. I pray those mistake can be reversed.

I hope that you find love, but not at the expense of your self. I hope you find success, but not at the expense of love.

So here’s where I have to trust. Here’s where I have to let you make your own decisions, and hope that I’ve equipped you well.

Here’s where I begin to set you free into the world, and hope you remember that you can always come back home.

The door will ALWAYS be open, the table will ALWAYS be set, and I will ALWAYS have the time.

Love,

Mom

Family Time – Am I Asking Too Much?

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Family Time should consist of more than shoe shopping on the weekends or errand running during the week. And, though I value every minute I spend with my kids, helping with homework and studying can hardly be considered “quality time.”

It seems I’m constantly competing with electronics for any conversation at all. And dinner time gives me only 20 minutes (at the most) of their undivided attention.

But getting them interested in spending time with the family, all together at the same time, doing the same activity, (especially the 14-yr-old) is down-right exhausting. And what I’m left with is grumbling kids that are sparing me very little of their cerebral attention.

The worst part is that I know they are merely “appeasing me” until they can get back to their own interests, namely the darn technology.

Has family time really changed that much from when I was a kid, or teen? I mean, I have memories of playing family games together with my brothers and my parents. I realize we didn’t have the electronic distractions we do now. In a sense, if we didn’t find friends to hang out with on a Friday night, we were essentially stuck with the parents, and, as such, we were subjected to there torturous games of “Sorry” and “Scrabble.” But we hung out…together.

The difference today is that my kids don’t have to go outside of the house to find their entertainment. And friends? They can meet up with them on-line. So maybe it just “feels” different. As parents, we’re competing for our kids’ attention on a whole different scale.

I don’t want to force them into Family Time, because then what I’m left with is pouty kids who will go along with whatever said activity is, but you can bet their enthusiasm is less than convincing, if existent at all.

So what’s a parent to do? I know I only have a few years left before they are completely out the door, at least with the older one. The 11-yr-old still has a few more years, but I feel like time is getting away from me.

So I’m asking other parents of teens: what have you done to implement Family Time? Has it been successful? I’d love some ideas.