As 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.