Last February, I sent a blog post out into the world that struck a chord with tens of thousands of moms. I'd just been on Facebook and Instagram, and seeing all the beautiful little faces of my friends' small children, and reading the comaraderie of comments by other moms made me feel wistful for days gone by. You know, the days when you could commiserate over spilled milk and temper tantrums, and laugh together about the charming antics and cute sayings that went along with parenting in the early years. I thought about how the world becomes very quiet and lonely as your kids get older, the issues more complex, and the need for privacy overtakes your parenting.
Specifically, I was missing the fun I had with this little guy:
And these two princesses...
Here is the link, in case you missed it...or if you need a little wind for your sails:
When I wrote it, I didn't realize just how much moms (and dads) of older kids need encouragement. Because no matter how fantastic you are as a parent, most of us falter when our kids hit those teen years. Our confidence takes a huge hit when that compliant, radiant child (who was seven yesterday, right?) becomes withdrawn and uncooperative. And where did that attitude come from?? We beat ourselves up, going over and over what we could have done wrong to cause this acting out....when in reality, most of what we are experiencing is perfectly normal. A passing phase. A necessary step in your child's path toward independence.
But, man, it hurts sometimes.
I'm not a professional counselor or psychologist. I don't have all the answers to the questions I've received in the months following the post. But I do know one thing: that we need each other, even if only to realize that we aren't alone in our parenting struggles.
But we also need to see that it can be done.
We need to see examples of teens and young adults who have good heads on their shoulders, who made it through those angst-filled years, and who have healthy relationships with their parents. We need to see that these years can be the best years. At the very least, we need to see examples of kids and families who turned their struggles into something good.
Maybe you're in a tough spot right now.
Your relationship with your teen is rocky, to say the least. Perhaps you have no relationship at all. Can I just say that there is grace for you here? I'll be spending much more time talking about parenting older kids (and other issues related to midlife) this year, and I come at this from the vantage point of one who has muddled my way along. My kids are all in their twenties, and they all lived through my mistakes and blunders to become beautiful adults.
I can even say that these last years have been our best years...so I know it can happen for you, too.
This week, I'm laying the groundwork for the themes I'll be sharing all year long. If this resonates with you, I'd love to have you along!
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