This letting go can be incredibly difficult for many of us. It’s hard to look at that 16-year-old standing in front of us and not wish for the 4-year-old version who would sit on our lap and want our undivided attention.
In conversations with teens, I have reminded them that they just see their parents as they are. (That’s why they freak out when they see pictures of their parents from 20 years ago). Whereas parents look at their kids and see every age and stage of their life. This can make it hard for us as parents to let go and let teens move into the next stage. But I have a couple of ideas that might make things easier.
I suggest you take the initiative. Most transitions with teenagers I have experienced are blowouts where parents are fighting to keep their kids exactly as they have been, and teens are screaming, literally, for independence. Heated battles are not the time for many important decisions. But if you are like me, too many of those decisions to allow a later curfew, take a trip with friends, or even dating parameters are made in the heat of battle. As if we didn’t know this was coming.
A better strategy may be this: When a natural transition time is coming, say finishing middle school, set a formal “team meeting” with your child. Let them know what new privileges and responsibilities are coming their way. Ask them what they think should change. Trust me, they will have a long list of ideas. Then after these discussions, you as the parent take some time to consider and get back to them with your decisions. Taking some time before you answer may help them understand that you honestly considered their request. And maybe you will give a better answer.
Go call the “team meeting” now. Don’t wait. It’s much too hard to think straight when your kids are yelling and telling you they are being treated like a baby.
If you read above closely, you may have noticed I spoke of privileges and responsibilities. Don’t forget, and don’t let your kids forget either, that each transition comes with greater responsibility. That goes for your 5-year-old, 12-year-old, 18-year-old or even 25-year-old who is still at home. No responsibility? No privileges. Privileges are earned. Boy, I wish someone had told me this back in the day. Good luck and God bless each of you as you navigate this exciting time of life with your teens.