Raising children is really NOTHING like what most of us expect…right? From newborns to young adulthood….it is a tough job! Just when you think you have come through a trying, difficult developmental stage…you get slapped in the face with next developmental stage and find yourself longing for the old days! Let’s start with newborns….I mean, I don’t know about you guys, but I never spent my days gazing at a quietly, sleeping baby in my arms, with my hair cascading against my shoulders in flowing tendrils. I didn’t lounge around in a soft, hug-my-curves nightie and my complexion was anything, but glowing and refreshed. Most days were spent in thread bare sweats, hair…well…let’s be honest…it was a good day if I was able to shower and wash my hair. And, although, I had moments of gazing at a beautiful sleeping infant, they were short moments, and more often than not, it would take me hours to get them to sleep, only to have them awaken when I placed them, ever so tenderly, in their crib. As for glowing, refreshed skin…GIVE ME A BREAK…I had bags on my bags and dark circles that ran practically to my chin. I was sleep-deprived, at times lonely…especially with my first, I had her when I was 20, and feeling like a fish out of water!
Fast forward through the joys of toddler-dom….the temper-tantrums, the accidents in their pants at the grocery store, the “why” phase that leaves you so on edge that it is entirely possible, should an adult ask you “why” at an inopportune moment, you might very well slap them….slap them REALLY HARD!! Of course, let us not forget night terrors and changing peed upon sheets at 2 am and my personal favorite…cleaning, not nearly as quickly, as they were making a mess! EXHAUSTING!! Cute, but exhausting!
Skip ahead to preteens and early teen years…this phase COULD be summed up in ONE word……HORMONES!! I said it could be summed up in one word, but that wouldn’t be any fun. Everyday with a 12 through say 16 year old…well, frankly, I am astonished that anyone survives…lol! It is quite possible that the next eye roll, huffy sigh and snotty back talk will leave one of my children searching the floor for their eyeballs from the force of my slap against the backside of their annoying little head…..KIDDING…don’t call DYFS…or maybe….NAH!
It gets better though, I promise! You see, I now have 2 children through all of these stages and they are now young adults and I survived…stop the presses…this is NEWS WORTHY!! Please don’t misunderstand me, I still parent them…they are 21 and 19, but the parenting is different. It is more of an advising role…a learn from my life experience mentoring system. They do not view me as the enemy any longer…the person who was single-handedly….RUINING THEIR LIFE!! It is nice for me. I didn’t experience sadness at my first 2 babies being grown! Here is a horrifying, mind-blowing statistic….when my last child turns 20…I will have been raising a teenager for…hold onto your hats…TWENTY-TWO YEARS...did you hear me…TWENTY-TWO YEARS! Let’s be honest, if I am upright, can hold a conversation and do not have a personal assistant, whose sole purpose is to wipe the accumulating spittle that continuously forms at the corners of my mouth…well then...I say I am doing great!!! Twenty-two years…..that, right now, is MORE than half of my life….kookoo!!
This is how I began thinking of the parenting years of 12-16….
Raising a 12-16 year old is analogous with a low-interest earning savings account….and I do mean LOW-INTEREST…like .000000002%….ha! Most kids TURN on you at age 12….hormones, peer pressure, insecurity, independence….almost overnight you go from cool, fun-to-be around and all-knowing to embarrassing, dull and stupid! Most days….you will experience conflict...it is the, unfortunate, reality! I believe, however, if you change your mind-set from…omg my kid is the MOST ANNOYING KID THAT EVER WALKED THE PLANET EARTH to a more calm, sort of this-too-shall-pass attitude, your life will become, at least, tolerable. In my 21 years of parenting, I have come to believe that if you think of your teen as the bank account that I mentioned it will help create a peaceful coexistence between parent and child.
How does it work?
I try to come up with a daily deposit for my teens….
It could be and, often is, a compliment.
It could be a question such as: do you need me to get anything for you today from the store?
It could be a note in their lunch or on their pillow of something you like about them (which can, at times, be challenging to come up with).
These examples are what I refer to as small deposits. The second part of my bank account theory is….let go of the expectations. Don’t expect a thank you or a reply without a hostile tone. Like a savings account that only collects small interest, it will take time for you to see a result….it is the same with your teen. Let’s say you put 5 dollars a month into a savings account…the building of your nest-egg is going to be slow, but at least you are contributing something, and over the years there will be an accumulation of funds. It would be wise to not check your balance often, as this would only cause frustration, but if you check it infrequently, you will start to realize you have enough for a spa day or that new golf club or a mini-vacation. This is how I think of my teens….I expect no return on my deposits, but eventually you WILL see the significance in your deposits and take my word on it...it is REWARDING!!
I certainly wrote negatively about being a parent today, I don’t mean to say that parenting sucks, even though… it kinda does…lol! I am simply trying to bring a sense of reality ofwhat it is like to be a parent. Parenting is NOT the pictures we see on the covers of magazines…I mean…it does have those moments…moments of unbelievable joy and pride, happiness and peace…like when they are SLEEPING…kidding…kinda, but a lot of the times, parenting is challenging. There is often a dynamic that you are fighting against in your home…it may be developmental or outside influences such as: friends, media and the millions of other things that we encounter in our lives. Needless to say, parents around the world are fatigued, defeated and frustrated.
Open up a low-interest-earning savings account in your child.
Remember to choose your battles wisely.
And most importantly…refuse isolation! We, as parents, and perhaps more accurately as humans, isolate ourselves. We are embarrassed to share our struggles, even with a close friend. We fear judgement and rejection, understandably so because of the world we reside in, but just maybe, if we all start to be consciously aware of our own judgments and diligently work against them and take a risky step of sharing honestly our lives with a friend or family….just maybe it is the first step in changing this isolating epidemic we live in.
Share your troubles with a friend, a close friend.
Vent about your parenting struggles!
Life is truly lived OUTSIDE of our comfort zones.
It is a risk worth taking and I bet you will find it to be fulfilling, stress-relieving and refreshing….freedom! I believe peace and joy come from living congruently with the core of who we are…if we spend too much of our precious time and energy lamenting, worrying and obsessing about judgement and rejection, we cover our core.…this, without a doubt, steals our joy and peace.
Make your first deposit today in your child and a call a friend to share a small part of what is REALLY going on in your life.
Live outside your comfort zone!!
Have a great day guys!!