Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Perfect Moment Tuesday? Visions of Graduation

Each week I participate in Perfect Moment Monday, sponsored by the blog, WriteMindOpenHeart.com According to Lavender Luz, "Perfect Moment Monday" is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect Moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." And so, here is a Perfect Moment for this week.

If you have a teenager in high school (or were a teenager in high school not so long ago), you'll relate to this story. It's the battle of "who is holding the reins" as kids grow up. As a parent, when kids are young, you do everything for them...but as they grow up, more and more responsibility shifts towards them.

The conflict as they grow up (especially in the teen years) is how quickly do I (the parent) release the reins? What are they emotionally ready to take over AND what am I emotionally ready to release?  The parents' view of this typically differs (a lot) from the kids' view, which is one of the reasons the teen years can be such a struggle.

This past week served as a Perfect example of this...

Last week Tom and I were fretting over one of James' grades. After trying the nagging approach for the past three semesters (which created a lot of friction between us), we decided to try something different and determined that it is time to hand the reins over to James and see what happens.

Did a slight panic just shoot through your entire body, possibly delaying your heart beat for a split second? If so...my heart did the same thing.

What if it doesn't work? 

But we handed over the reins and jumped off the cliff, hoping that if we needed our parachutes, they would open up to save all three of us.

Lo and behold, after James took the reins, I saw him take a more mature outlook on his grades (including talking about school with us). He seems to be focusing more on his homework and looked online to see what his grades were. It was as if he cared...AND he was relieved that we weren't breathing down his neck.  It's only been a couple of days and the change is slight, there has been an improvement.

It gets even better...Last night we went to a lecture on post about preparing for college.

Are you sitting down? All three teenage boys attended! And they listened. And they got something out of it.

James, Bryce and Ryan heard many of the things we have been telling them about grades, getting involved, volunteering, working, and building a resume. But hearing it from someone else helped them to tune in and get something out of it.

How do I know? One reason I know is because when we got home, James and I had a great conversation about college, getting a job, investments, life insurance, grades, driving, and his expectations of himself.

After this pleasant conversation with such a nice young man, I went to bed with a smile on my face realizing that this nice young man was my first-born!

Bit-by-bit, he is growing up. His attitude last night reinforced our handing over the reins. In many (if not most) of his decisions now, it is up to him. Our job as parents now is to offer support, advice if necessary or when asked, and guide him as he moves through the rest of his high school education.

Will there be bumps in the road? Probably. But at least we continue to move forward. This brings to mind a statement I heard a long time ago while I was teaching parenting education programs (WAY before I had kids of my own):

Our job as a parent is to work our way out of a job.

Seeing this shift in James, ever-so-slightly and sometimes by great leaps, is what makes this transition worth it.

Just thinking about this conversation with James...is Perfect!

If you'd like to check out more Perfect Moment Mondays go to WriteMindOpenHeart.com by clicking here.


Kristin said...

You should be very proud. It sounds like all three of your boys are growing up to be wonderful young men.

Lori Lavender Luz said...

I'm enjoying your perfect moment with you -- this one is a doozy!

For once, you're the slowplow and I'm walking in the trail you blaze. I hope I do as good a job working myself out of a job as you are doing.

Cheers to James and his brothers.

dholden303@aol.com said...

Superb! How did you get to be such a great Mom? Learning by non-example???

We praise you and Tom for taking the leap and are especially proud of James for realizing that his decisions now are life-changing. We are proud of his good choices!

We are proud of our three boys and their parents!!!


Kathy said...

Here via Perfect Moment Mondays and so impressed by this post. My oldest and my only son is almost 8 years old, so though we have a ways to go before he and we are making these kinds of decisions, I still really appreciate where you are coming from writing this post and find the idea of "working my way out of a job" to be very bittersweet, but it totally makes sense.

Aramelle {One Wheeler's World} said...

You should most definitely be very proud to have a responsible young man blooming in front of you. :)

It's a little ironic to me how cyclical some of this parenting "stuff" seems to be, as I read posts from parents in all stages and ages of raising kiddos. You are taking the (enormous) steps of letting go of the reins in regards to major life-changing decisions. I am currently trying to teach myself to loosen the reins when it comes to little power struggles like what shirt my almost-2 year old wears. Reminding myself to allow him to be in control of some things. I'm certain that when I look back those battles will seem minuscule compared to what you are currently doing. But it sure seems like a biggie right now. LOL

Esperanza said...

As a teacher I LOVE that you handed the reigns to your child. He will have such a better chance at succeeding college and the rest of the life when he knows he can be responsible for his education. Such an important lesson and one that most parents seem to afraid to allow their kids to learn. I'm so glad this has been a positive experience for you. It's wonderful.

drlloyd11 said...

I love this post because it is a glimpse into my future! My parenting philosophy is often bound with what you said about getting out of the job of parenting. We are growing individuals...and sometimes it is hard to let go. I can tell how proud you are of your boys!