Sunday, May 2, 2010
On raising teens - a melancholy mood tonight
I've been in a melancholy mood tonight....a little bit sad and a lot thoughtful. Most of the blogs I read are of parents with small children. I enjoy these blogs - the homeschooling, freezer cooking, deal-finding, organizing, etc. However, I want to stress to everyone that parenting teens is arguably more difficult than tots.
Our children are born to us, gifts from God. The love we feel is awesome, a bond that is beyond words. It is natural that we have hopes and aspirations for them from day one. We pray for their safety, health, and happiness. They grow and we do our best to guide them, instill our values, and encourage them down the path we believe is right.
What do we do when the path they choose for themselves goes away from ours, like in the picture above? Our tracks start out the same, then slowly start to separate.....eventually becoming 2 independent tracks. They may go parallel, an independent life but with decisions and actions similar to our own lives - which is frequently what we envision for them. Or they may curve sharply, turn perpendicular, vastly away from our own path with decisions and life choices very different than our own.
This is the basis of my melancholy tonight. The Queen is blossoming into a young woman that i'm very proud of, but I fear is on the perpendicular path. She is responsible, smart, and independent. However, I'm sad to say, some of the values that I personally hold so deep, seem to be missing from her life.
Who's responsible for that? Is it me? Where did i go wrong? or is it just the person she is forming into? Or - the classic teenage question - is it just a phase?
At what point do i let go, stop trying to control everything, and let her decisions (and the consequences for them) stand? In less than 2 years, she will - hopefully - be on her own living a college life. Truthfully, while i believe some of her decisions are mistakes, I can't say that they all are......she is just growing to be her own person. A person that I love unconditionally, but struggle to accept some facets of her personality.....
So many of the blogs I read are those of homeschooling families. These children are held close to the family with many opportunities to immerse them in faith, instill them with values, and maintain close watch on their hearts. They focus on learning domesticity, and are able to pursue their academic interests at their own pace. I find them very interesting.
The reality is, this has not been our life. I'm a full-time working mother (and have been for many years), they have been through a hateful divorce (after 13 years of marriage), they have been public schooled, in daycares, preschools, and babysitter's homes. They learned at an early age to be independent and flexible. They have never felt what is like to have a mom that is always there, as much as I wanted to be. We have gone to church, and not gone to church. Their father chooses to not have a relationship with them. He couldn't get past his hatred for me, not even for his children. It broke their hearts, and mine broke for them. By the grace of God, they have a step-father that loves them, and they him, though the integration of this new family hasn't always been easy. I've asked a lot of my children, especially the older 2 (the Underdog was less than 2 when her dad left, she doesn't really remember him).
How do you get past the guilt and grief you feel for the life you wished you had given them? I just don't know.