When I tell people that I like teens best, I’m pretty sure they think I’m being sarcastic. But I’m not.
Remember being a teenager? It sucked. I would never go back. NEVER.
I love to talk to teens and watch other adults interact with them. I have two teenagers myself, it’s the best. I am a fairly hands-off type of parent. As soon as they could put on their own clothes, I was done involving myself with what they wear. As soon as they could put food in their own mouths, I happily let them take charge of eating. When they went to school, I helped where I was needed, signed what I had to, but their work was all on them.
Their lives. Not mine.
I’ve never said…clean your room, did you get your homework done, or no, you can’t spend your money on that.
I believe in choices. I believe making our own decisions is key to becoming the best people we can be. If we mess up? We deal with the consequences and we learn.
Do I want to see my kids hurt or fail or end up on the wrong path?
Nope. But I will let them.
Because seeing them get back up on their own, seeing them find the way that works for them, and watching them become more confident with each step pretty much makes me the happiest.
Struggle is what being a teenager is.
This is why they’re my favorite. This is why I write for them. Because the fight is real. Teens might not have a mortgage or full time job, but they have their own problems, their own lives. The in-between stage of life is an important part of the journey, one where they test the waters, test themselves, face fear and uncertainty.
Never belittle it by lecturing, by telling them they’ll understand when they’re older.
Stuck somewhere between childhood and being a member of adulthood is painful, and the more tools in their arsenal the better. They want to be independent. They want to be in control of everything, but they’re not. They’re living at home, with rules they think they don’t need and parents telling them what to do.
Don’t get me wrong. Rules are good. I have a few of those.
Teens look out at the world with the fear and excitement at having to one day enter it.
Parents are guides. We are there to show them options, and not to hinder their choices…to share our opinions, but not to get in the way of them forming their own.
Recently, I watched adults offer their opinions to a teen. This nineteen year old has had some problems, he’s gone against what he’s been expected to do, made choices that have caused big issues, and his past holds a deep sadness. He’s struggling, trying to find who he is and what he wants in this great wide world. I watched him shut down as the opinions flew. I watched his gaze drift to the window. Whatever he was thinking, he held it in, knowing it would lead to arguments.
You need to…
Phrases I heard over and over. Phrases that make me cringe.
What does he want? I don’t know. I don’t think he does, which is the joy of being that age. But I don’t think he needs people telling him what to do. I know they want to help. I know they don’t want him to fail. I know they are imparting wisdom that only comes with age.
But wisdom can’t be given…we all have to find the knowledge ourselves.
He, and all teens, need a bit a freedom to find their way. We, as adults, as parents, have to be able to let go of our fear, that they’ll fail, be unhappy, or worse, and let them live…let them become who they are meant to be.
I am not telling people how to parent. Dude. I have no idea what I’m doing most days. We all have to do what works for us, with all our differing personalities and opinions. And I am prepared to hear from all the parents who want to tell me that if they let their teens make their own decisions the world would explode. Go for it.
I ask people to think. Letting teens have moments that are their own, letting them be in charge of their destinies, will help them when they go out into the world to create their own lives. Cause my goal is for my kids to leave and not come back, well, maybe for visits.