Respecting Change

Solution 1 2 or 3 Choice Showing Strategy Options Decisions Or SolvingOver the years – as the girls have gotten older I’ve tried to enable them to make more decisions.  Sometimes those decisions are minor (what’s for lunch) and sometimes they are bigger (picking out a dress for a party).  As they’ve gotten older I’ve worked hard to support their decisions – even when I disagreed.   In that I hope they’ve learned about respecting change.

When the girls were younger – in a lot of ways life was simpler.  I would pick the meal, pick the clothes or the bed time.  As they’ve gotten older and become young women – those decisions have been ceded and sometimes with some effort I’ve been respecting change.

Heading into Thanksgiving week is always a mixed bag for me.  Thanksgiving is actually one of the holidays I like.  But it runs head long into the week when Risa passed.  From there we jump into the holidays, and then the long days of winter.

The change cycle though seems to keep moving.  And rather than fighting it, I think I’ve realized respecting change is just as important as realizing it’s out there.

So, 14.0 has given up softball after more than eight years to focus on tennis.  Her decision to make.  I respect that.

So, 16.5 declares her independence with authority.  Her prerogative as teen for sure – and I respect that.

Respecting change is probably a healthy approach – but certainly not an easy plan to carry out.  Day-to-day, with my eyes wide open I try to learn something new from my girls and day-to-day they make decisions – and I try to respect them.

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Measured Involvement

Measured Involvement - balanceAs the only parent of a teen (14.5) and a very close to teen (12.0) – I am kind of lucky.  My kids are still willing to do things with me.  Whether its going to a hockey game or skiing, sitting around and watching hockey or as we did on Friday night – making homemade pasta from scratch, we still do things together.  But I also practice measured involvement – so my kids can have as much freedom as possible, while I keep a sense of family and involvement in place around them.

I think I am honest enough with myself to fully realize that as time goes on, my kids will want to do less and less with me.  I try to teach them independence and let them experience it as well.  Some of it they like – open-ended bedtime on the weekend, able to go out with friends and picking out their own clothes to name a few.  There are some traits of independence I am sure they aren’t thrilled with as well – like doing their own laundry, learning to use their allowance for their expenses and having to do chores around the house.

The independence I preach allows me to practice measured involvement – so I am not omnipresent at every event they have.  I stay way back at 14.5’s track meets and soccer games.  I jump in only when the coaches need a hand at 12.0’s softball practices and games.  My practice is measured involvement in their pursuits.

They are in the middle of a three-day weekend – except for 14.5 going out to dinner with her friends Saturday night and 12.0 having softball practice Sunday morning they have not seen any of their friends so far.  I ask them if they have plans or plans to make plans – but I will not make plans for them.  That’s me adhering to my measured involvement in their lives.

You can find volumes written on the subject of parental involvement with their teens – and I haven’t read any of them.  Instead, I rely on being honest with my kids and myself.  I hope by now we can count on one another to be fair to each other.

We’ll reach a point (probably too soon for me) I’ll have to step even further back.  I am confident I’ve given them the lessons and exposure to the experiences to make good choices.  But I’ll miss being involved in things.  So for now, as far as they’ll let me, and I’m willing I’ll embrace the moments.

Measured involvement – so far it seems to be working, because neither of my kids is kicking and screaming that I am around.  I’ll chalk that up in the win column – for now.

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The New Independence

Raising Independent ChildrenAs the girls get older and grow into the teen years, one of the things I hope to impart upon them is a sense of independence.  When I was their age, that mean riding my bicycle delivering newspapers and generally pushing the boundaries.  While my girls push the boundaries – they seem to practice the new independence.

In a lot of ways, when I was growing up my bicycle meant freedom and independence.  My bike took me all over the neighborhood, and when I was 14 or 15 it let me get my first job delivering first the New York Daily News and then Newsday.

With my bike and a few dollars in my pocket – I had my independence.  Yes, I still lived at home.  Yes, I still counted on my mom for food.  But in a lot of ways I controlled my own destiny.

And it’s not a freedom I want to give anytime soon.  And it’s a feeling I want to instill into my kids.

But times are different.  For my girls, a bicycle does not mean the same freedom.  Last night as I was driving home after dropping off one-off a friend of 14.0 we witnessed a group of 10 or more kids cross a four lane road without even looking.  I stopped, an oncoming car had to jam on their breaks.

Yeah, there was a bit of pack mentality in action.  But also, its a different environment to be romping around in.

So today is homecoming in our district.  14.0 is off with friends (and a boy) and 12.0 is with her friends.  I know everything is going to be OK – because I know my girls know right from wrong.  But I’m not sure they will ever had that sense of independence and freedom I had at their age.  This could be the new independence – or there may still be a chapter yet to be written.

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