Some things are easy to ask advice about. When your kids are young and they hit, bite or throw a tantrum you can post on Facebook to get ideas on what to do. Johnny keeps blowing raspberries while you are feeding him his baby food? Your neighbor might have some suggestions. Susie won’t keep her diaper on during nap time? The mom in your playgroup may have some experience.
When our kids are young, it’s not such a big deal to share stories about their shenanigans. In fact, the stories are often amusing after the fact, even if their defiance makes you livid in the moment. However, as they age, the difficulties you have with them maybe aren’t so humorous. You hesitate to tell other people for fear they will question your parenting skills, or not let their kid hang around yours anymore.
The baby, toddler, and preschool year are exhausting. Our bodies may ache physically at the end of the day from running around so much and lack of sleep. Potty training may wear on our last nerve.
When kids enter the teen and tween years, the physical nature of parenting lessens, but the emotional nature ramps up. Every day seems like there is a new dilemma to face. What movies can they watch? How far away from home can they go on their own? What friends do you trust enough to allow your child to go to their house alone without you? And on, and on, and on.
The day comes where your child commits a major infraction. Suddenly, you can err in two different ways. You can share the story too publicly. You see, as your children age, their stories become more of their own. These stories aren’t really for you to share anymore without their permission. Or, you can err on the side of being so fearful to share due to shame that you neglect to get the help and advice you need to deal with the problem. You feel your best friend who always gave such great advice might not understand the fact that your daughter sent a sext message to her boyfriend.
I have discovered now that my oldest is ten that parenting suddenly feels a bit lonely at times. My ideas for blog posts wane a bit. My boys have always encouraged me to share their stories here. I think I inadvertently led them to believe that sharing them on here makes them somewhat famous. Ha! Now that my oldest is ten, I know there are stories that might potentially embarrass him that I now keep to myself.
Here are a few pieces of advice. Honestly, I’m writing them primarily for myself. Telling you simply helps me process them.
Remember that as your children age, their stories become more of their own.
Never publicly demean your child through social media for their choices/decisions.
Work even harder to find trusted friends or mentors to share the burdens of parenting with.
Offer grace to your children as they begin to make more of their own decisions.
Offer grace to your friends and their children when they share burdensome moments with you.
Look for ways to encourage other parents of tweens and teens. If you see their kid doing something awesome, let them know.
Let your child know their stories are safe with you. They will certainly clam up if they know you run to other family members or friends with tales of every offense they commit.
Pray for other parents, and for your children.
It’s okay to admit parenting this age is hard, but look for every opportunity to build your child up at home and in front of others.
Remember that this stage will pass just like all of the others. They don’t stay tweens/teens forever (thank goodness)!
If you are feeling a little like an island in your parenting endeavor right now, I understand. One of my most recent battles was over a book I wouldn’t let my son read. It took place smack in the middle of the library. At least when he was a toddler I could pick him up, drag him out, and strap him in his seat. We don’t have that luxury anymore when they are nearly our size. Suddenly a screaming fit from a two-year-old doesn’t seem so horrendous anymore!
“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.”