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!
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