The thing is – we remember when they were completely dependent on us, and we were the center of their universe.
That makes the shift to the periphery a struggle. For us, not them.
A teenager’s world may be built on a foundation lovingly laid, brick by brick, by one parent, two parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other extended family. But when adolescence arrives, our children operate from new territories, pushing boundaries and expanding perspectives. That means leaving us behind – or at the very least – in the background.
From the view on their planets, that’s where we need to be so they can own their space, their discoveries, and their accomplishments.
Parenting the elder
My first-born walked early, talked early, bubbled over with observations on everything, and left nothing unexplored. He demanded independence while still in the single digits. I gave it to him, and he lived up to it, most of the time. When he didn’t, there were consequences and lessons, for both of us. He’s now in college, and doing well, hundreds of miles away.
He calls; we Skype from time to time. I miss the commotion and conversation. Mostly, I miss him.
Parenting the younger
My younger son could not be more different. He’s quieter. A dreamer. As a small child he smiled a great deal, spoke little, and was content to stick close. When he was four, we discovered he’d taught himself to read. At five, he picked up a pen and began to draw. He’s never stopped.
This creative kid remains more mysterious than his brother, still exhibits head-in-the-clouds syndrome, but he’s taking initiative, socializing with gusto, and proving himself capable of responsibility and independence.
He’s also telling me when to back off, appropriately. But the distance between us is painful, for me.
The star map has changed
It’s clear that the structure of my universe is changing rapidly. My dilemma is my success story, and my son’s, in the making.
These past 18 years, parenting has been my primary job, although I maintained a corporate career for much of it, and have freelanced through the rest. As my teenagers shape their own worlds far from any orbit in which I play a role, I admit that I’m having to adjust. Being a single parent makes that more difficult.
I realize the flip side is freedom, but I’m not quite there yet. Meanwhile, I wonder how other parents are managing, especially if you have raised your children to shoot for the stars.