There is no doubt that your teenage child is a little different to who they were when they were six years old. What, with the mood changes, monosyllabic replies, and the strange dress sense, you can be forgiven for wondering on occasions, ‘who is this person?’ Your baby is not your baby anymore. Your baby is blooming into the human you have invested so much love and heartbreak into. Instead of resisting this morphing stage, observe with the fascination and respect it deserves. You have worked hard to nurture a good human being, but there comes a time where you need to take a step back and watch as they develop from the foundations you gave them.
My very wise 103-year-old grandmother said to me that children are 'on loan' to you for a short while and she was right. It is a tough lesson we need to learn as parents that our children are NOT our property. They are their own person. Their lessons will be their own. Their mistakes will be their own. The tween stage is the first stage where that reality really kicks in. The young person in your home will have their own opinions which may conflict with your own. They will be (hopefully) confident in expressing their differing opinions. In order for you all to survive this stage, you must reset your thinking. The safety of home is the preferred space for tweens to dabble in having their own opinions, their own agendas, their own decision making. It is time to adjust the boundaries and the way things are done in your home.
Who is this person?
Your baby is not your baby anymore
Confidence in challenging you is not a sign of rebellion.
It is a sign they feel trusted and valued to voice their opinion.
Hormonal changes, social demands, and conflicting thought processes can wreak havoc on their emotions during a time when they are trying to find their place in this world. It is very easy to feel a sense of helplessness as a parent, which is the complete opposite of how you felt when they were younger. Back then we decided (most of the time) what they ate and wore, and where they went and with whom. They were as safe as we could make them because of our decisions -hopefully. The switch from sole adult decision-maker to having to take a back seat can be tough. Really tough. Terrifyingly tough. (This is when the wine consumption increases). But it is something you must come to terms with quickly.
parents go through a change when their baby becomes a teen, a transition to the 'back seat'which can be a hard shift for some
Because of this shift, I believe that parents go through a change when their baby becomes a teen. It is the transition to the 'back seat' which can be a hard shift for some. To recall your young childhood can be vague and/or fleeting, but the memories of being a teen are much clearer and vivid…VERY VIVID! If we are not mindful, it can affect the way we perceive and treat our kids and we can find ourselves fixated on worst-case scenarios. This leads to a change in our behaviour/thinking towards them and, in our effort to protect our babies from harm, we can very easily damage our relationship, sometimes beyond the point of no return. It is imperative to not assume or gauge them based on what you were doing at their age.
It can feel a little overwhelming for us - and them
It's important to remember that as you ask yourself ‘who is this person?’ your teenager is most likely asking themselves 'Who am I and where/how do I fit in?' For some, it is an easy transition. For others, it requires exploration of their physical appearance, their interests and those they associate with. It can all feel a little overwhelming for us and them. The same level of understanding and patience that we showed when they were three is required when the approach thirteen. Will they get it right all the time? No. Will they react to things in a mature rational fashion? Hell no! We need to nurture and support them across this rickety scary bridge with encouragement, good role modeling and as many second chances as they need to get it right. The important thing to remember that getting it right is their definition of right, not necessarily your definition. How wonderful would it be to know that your teen feels safe and 100% comfortable within themselves, whether that includes green hair or not? I for one would prefer to compromise on my thoughts of green hair if that meant my child was not depressed or suffering anxiety due to lack of confidence or belief in who and how they see themselves.