My girls are growing up. And with that growing comes learning...for all of us.
I often wish parenting came with a manual. A how-to on how to handle certain situations. I've always wished for this manual, but nothing like I wish for it since my girls became teenagers.
These years are hard...for all of us.
Lots of life lessons to be learned. Lots of pain & harsh words said. Lots of hurt feelings. Lots of pushing buttons & boundaries.
I'm trying hard to navigate these next few years with patience & grace.
It's hard to watch your teenager throw away pretty much everything she's been taught & become disrespectful and to not care about anyone or anyone's feelings...even her own. It's hard to watch her follow others when she should be standing up for herself and knowing that she's headed down the wrong path. We've come a long way in the past 9 months or so with her and I'm proud to say she's pretty much back to how she should be. Is her behavior perfect? Absolutely not! We still have days where she's disrespectful and we still have times when she follows others instead of thinking of what's right. But we've come a long way!
There's also that thin line of wanting to let your child experience life and have fun with her friends, while trying to keep her safe. Recently we've had a lot of little talks with her about some things she thinks she should be allowed to do. For instance, she wanted to go with some friends & go swimming. No big deal, right? Well, it just so happens these friends happen to be her boyfriend, her friend and her friend's boyfriend. To us, that changes things. It's no longer a group of friends, it's couples. Besides that, she wanted to go swimming at her friend's boyfriend's house....whom we don't know (either the boyfriend or his parents). We told her that wasn't going to happen and she just couldn't understand what the big deal was. She couldn't understand why we were hesitant to send her to someone's house we didn't know...as couples! We had a long talk about things that could happen, not putting her in a position for bad things to happen, how we just want to protect her...not ruin her life. She's a good kid...she got it (as much as a teen gets anything their parents say)...and eventually worked out a plan that was more in line with what we would allow.
We're continually having to remind our girls that they are only 13 & 15. They want to grow up so fast...and I just want to protect them from the big, bad world. While I agree they need their wings clipped just a bit as they grow, there's no way I'm letting them do some of the things they're asking to do. Another example, one of my girls wanted to ride home with a friend. This friend now lives in a different town (about 10-12 miles down the road). She's only had her license for a few months, it was raining, she would have to drive on the highway and she was with a group of friends...not just her & my daughter in the car. We told her we're not comfortable with that and she balked. Now, you may or may not agree with me, but we just weren't comfortable sending her off with someone who just recently learned to drive, in the rain, on a highway, with a group of kids that just want to have fun...not be responsible.
I realize there are times when I need to back off a bit and let them grow up. Make their mistakes. Learn their consequences. And, as hard as it is, I'm all for that. But not at the risk of them getting physically hurt.
This parenting gig is certainly not for the faint of heart!