parenting a teenager

I am the mother of an incredibly bright, loving, funny, sweet, kind and may I just say, handsome teenage boy.

He's a high school freshman.

And he's one of the most complicated people I know. He always has been.

I have always tried to parent with a lot of respect for my children as real people, while still giving enough guidance and leadership. I want to be empathetic and always, always, their biggest fans. But I never want to be that parent who is more of a pal than an adult. It's a hard balance and sometimes I don't get it right.

Recently, I found myself slipping into a very punitive, authoritarian approach with my son. It felt really false and wrong, and it wasn't getting much in the way of results I wanted, either. We were yelling more than talking.

I realized that this kind of parenting - this very bossy, directive, punitive approach - was really more about me feeling unable to control this almost-adult person. It was about my own fear of letting go, even as he makes the inevitable mistakes he is going to make.

As a parent, it really is hard to find the middle way sometimes. I want to stay focused more on the end goal - turning out a Good Man, who is honest and productive and emotionally healthy - than on the day to day issues and worries that crop up.

But it really is scary to let go. And yes, he is going to make some mistakes.


becky said...

I know what you mean.

Suzette said...

Just wait until he starts **gasp** driving! I thought I would be so cool with the whole driving thing. But it is the single hardest thing to let your child drive away with a friend who is driving, or to let your own child drive.

Anonymous said...

Katie,it sounds to me like you are on the right track.You really seem to have a level head about the whole thing.I have a pretty good feeling that your son will evolve into a good man.Just prepare yourself for your daughter because girls and their drama are hell on earth.

Laura said...

take a deep breath!
mom of three teens (currently) here reporting to assure you that you both will survive and still , someday, be mom and son and friends.
i thought i lost my 1st one at your son's age and, as promised by a mom of older kids, she came back by 17 and today (5 days before she turns 20) we are friends, mom and daughter and we respect eachother. she chose a way different path than i would ever want or walk myself but damn i am proud of my girl!
hang in there and when it comes to th battles always ask yourself is his something i am willing to go to war over before you fight.

Leslie said...

I have one about to become a teenager and it does freak me out. Having a teenage girl has been no problem because I WAS one and I understand what's going on with her. But a teenage boy seems like a scary thing to me.

Katie, I agree that Henry is a handsome boy. And I hear from a reliaable source that at least one Freshman girl says he qualifies as "hot."

dewi said...

Here is a good resource I used periodically, some insightful advice without being heavy handed towards an adolescent who is doing the job of growing up...
An adolescent's need for autonomy does clash with your desire to make sure he gets through adolescence in one piece. It a balance we have to figure out how to archive as a parent to an emerging being.

Parental authority is about an adult's authority with your child and it comes from a matter-of-fact attitude about the business at hand. Important to helping your son grow to be a good man. And different then being "authoritarian". It allows your son to have the opportunity to feel natural consequences for his behavior; it will teach him valuable life lessons. His parents need to be on the same page about acceptable behavior as he discovers the boundaries of what is acceptable. Let him know that addiction runs in his family and he need to be more diligent then other teens with drinking or smoking pot.

I personally found the mid adolescent period 15-17 yrs old with my daughter the most challenging years of our life. Good luck and hopefully he will only give you a few grey hairs and a couple of sleepless nights...

Anonymous said...

Oh, and women never make mistakes?

Anonymous said...

"Oh, and women never make mistakes?"

Exactly what did you read to make you respond with this comment?