Parents of young children sometimes live under the illusion that if they parent well, they’ll be spared the challenges common to the teen years. It’s what I personally hoped for when my little ones were young. But as my kids grew and changed, I realized I needed to, too. Here’s what I learned along the way.
I learned to approach beloved family traditions with flexibility.
We raised our kids with the expectation that every Saturday morning started at the local coffee shop. It was a tradition we all enjoyed and looked forward to until my kids suddenly sprouted into teenagers and wanted to sleep until noon.
Instead of taking a hardline approach, KidsHealth professionals recommend flexibility when it comes to family activities. “Think back: You probably felt the same way about your mom and dad,” they advise frustrated parents.
Demanding rigid adherence to family activities will likely backfire, creating a tense situation — exactly the opposite outcome desired. So instead of an unyielding “always” tone, try the posture of “sometimes.” Then identify those family activities on the calendar that rise to the “mandatory” level and let the rest go.
I learned to accept a fluid dinner hour.
It’s long been my ambition to eat dinner around the table together, but things grew to a new level of helter-skelter with high schoolers coming and going amidst sporting events, invitations from friends and other commitments.
As life bulges to unprecedented levels of busyness, stick with family dinners whenever and however possible says clinical psychologist Dr. Laura Markham of Aha! Parenting. If one teen must be absent, carry on with the rest of the family. If a partner is out of town, make the effort to gather the teens on your own.
The humble dinner hour provides a level of connectivity with teens that’s been tied to better grades, lower levels of depression and suicide attempts and less experimentation with drugs, alcohol and sex, says Markham. Furthermore, teens who eat dinner with their families show a healthier approach to food, writes Cody C. Delistraty in The Atlantic. Wherever your family dinner comes from or however awkward your conversation may seem, Markham insists it’s worth being intentional about eating together around the table.
Read in full on ParentMap.
Sometimes when great plans fall apart, something just as beautiful emerges.
It’s an honor to publish again with Grown & Flown on the topic of teens and spring break~
“Our senior daughter asked to fly out-of-state for a spring break trip to visit her best friend in Indianapolis where we used to live. “With college coming, I need to say my good-byes,” she said. She planned on attending college overseas and the significance of leaving friendships behind was real. We appreciated her intentional care for the good people in her life and this particular friendship was rare. After giving it some thought, we gave our permission for her to take this trip.
Yet, I smarted with this abrupt departure from family tradition. As a tight-knit family, we’d never vacationed separately and I tingled with a bittersweet mixture of emotions. It was her last spring break before college and she wanted to do something without us. Much as I understood her desire to see her dear friend, it was enlightening that she was willing to forego a family vacation and the host of memories and inside-jokes that would invariably be added to family lore. This was a signal among others that she was readying herself to leave. At her age, I knew her desire was a healthy one, this eagerness to chart her own course.”
Read in full here. Thank you for your comments!
So very honored to be published on Grown & Flown today, a top-tier magazine focused on parenting kids in the 15-25-year-old range.
She was as messy as she was amazing and this combination challenged my categories. It was hard for me to see past the messes to what mattered most: my daughter…
Read my essay in full here.
“Tying the knot is the easy part; staying together requires some intentional habits.
Dear Teenage Son,
Today your dad and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. It was a remarkable day since increasingly we see marriages that are falling apart. Tying the knot is the easy part; staying together requires some intentional habits and staying in love.
Well, that most certainly doesn’t happen by chance. Here are some things you may be unaware of that your dad has worked hard on to keep us together and in love over the years.”
Read in full: http://www.yourtango.com/2016287952/six-pieces-unconventional-marriage-advice-gave-my-son
“You lift your eyes and there is a bird across the street perched on the topmost point of the firehouse bell-tower. Why does she just sit there? What does she see? You need to follow the way of this mama bird, to get up high above the trees so that you can know where you’ve been and where you’re going.
Truth is, the longer you’ve been a mom, the clearer are your failures. The blessing of perspective allows painful truths to emerge that often you picked at blades of grass instead of getting up high. You’ve regarded yourself as a good mom, yet as you gain distance from the early days of babies and toddlers, preschool and elementary school, from this place above the trees you can finally see.
Like that mama bird sitting up high in the tree, you stand now as a humble mom of 17 years, better able to discern where you’ve been and where you’re going. ”
Read in full on Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/kathryn-streeter/motherhood_b_9686272.html
“Thumbing through an old journal, my eyes landed on a paragraph written after my daughter, then 13, emphatically announced that she did not like to read.
I felt the same raw emotion as when I first wrote the entry, though years had passed. From my earliest moments as a new mother, I’d longed for my daughter to experience the same enjoyment from reading and falling into a good book that I’d felt in my youth. I pictured us walking in tandem in our mutual appreciation for stories, unpacking plots and characters for each other as we bonded in conversation. Like opening up a secret tunnel, reading would be my path into her life just as it would be her path to healthy adulthood.
But somehow, for all my best efforts, I apparently wasn’t raising a daughter who loved to read. Yet what she had said on that day long ago in fact didn’t match her actions. Perhaps, in her floundering place somewhere between child and young adult, she had issued that statement as a challenge.
Wanna fight, mom?
Whatever the case, I was deeply grateful she felt safe enough to speak her mind.”
Read in full on Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/kathryn-streeter/love-for-reading_b_9596980.html
“But when I coddle, I hurt them. If I keep myself at the center of their universe, helicopter parenting and serving their every need, ultimately, the goal of independence is undermined. It’s much harder to stay in the shadows and watch my kids successfully dodge one bad decision only to perform a dramatic faceplant when the next major obstacle reveals itself. But how else will they learn?”
“I’m a safety mom. A safety person, in fact. During a past ski trip, I consistently arrived back at the chairlift last, underscoring my obvious preoccupation with not hurting myself. I checked my speed the entire descent down the mountain. Speed is not my middle name.
My teens were ahead of me. And though cautionary words were on the tip of my tongue, I made no effort to prohibit them from their rapid downhill flight. I didn’t want to harden their resolve.
People who thrive are people who are being who they believe they were meant to be. That is exactly what I want for my kids, and probably pretty close to what you want, too. We want our kids to mature into independent young adults who can make wise choices on their own.”
Read in full on Scary Mommy: http://www.scarymommy.com/club-mid/quit-helicopter-parenting/