Parenting a teenager…

Dear Mom,

So much has been written about parenting a teenager, so I know that my words are unlikely to be all that new or fresh, but I am so struck by it that I have to comment. And just because it’s trite doesn’t make it any less powerful at a personal level.

When my oldest was little – a baby, a toddler – I remember friends with older children would talk about how parenting is a constant letting go process from the time they are born. And as my oldest now moves forward towards adulthood, this resonates so clearly that my head almost rings like a bell: I imagine others can hear my struggle to let go. Because all the other letting gos seemed so small – even though they didn’t feel that small at the time.

Preschool.

Kindergarten.

Middle school.

High school.

Sleepovers at friends’.

Camping.

School overnight trips.

Watching his disappointment without trying to rush in and save him.

Seeing him make mistakes and stumble along and not trying to catch him.

Knowing he had secrets and having to trust that they were all growthful, not hurtful; about crushes, not suicide.

Having to trust that if there was a problem he would ask for help, and that he had the skills to do that even though the skills hadn’t been tested. Like riding a bike or driving a car – you don’t know how you will handle the obstacle or crisis until it actually happens.

He was an early talker and a late bike rider, but now he keeps most of his thoughts to himself and wants to ride in a triathlon.

I’m just hoping I can stand on the sidelines cheering.

 

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