Mother’s Day is usually one Sunday I choose not to write a weekly newsletter. Not this year, though. This past weekend was a great one for me, and I’m left feeling exhausted and refreshed all at the same time. Much of my quiet time this weekend was spent reflecting on decisions we make as parents. As a parent of two teenagers, lately our list of decisions seem hopelessly endless…
When our kids are little, we are making every single decision for them. We decide when they will eat, what they will wear, what toys they will play with. As their personalities grow, so do their desires to have a say in decisions. They start having preferences for food, clothes and activities. On the surface, it seems they have *some* choice in the matter, but ultimately it is still the parents driving the decisions, so to speak. You don’t want steak for dinner? That’s okay! I’ll give you a choice instead: chicken nuggets or Cheerios? Do you want your healthy drink in your purple sippy-cup, or in the green one? Our young children are still wrapped in a parent-designed safety-bubble. We are the dictators – they can pick, but they cannot truly choose.
As our children become older, decisions become a bit bigger (and decidedly more expensive). Does Carson pick football or soccer this fall? Do we make him finish out the season when he chooses to quit? Does playing the flute have to last Kendyl a lifetime? Should it at least last until the squeaky thing is paid off? Our older children learn the difference between picking and choosing and they face decisions beyond Cheerios and chicken nuggets. They start making decisions to shape their personality, to teach them about life. Our role as dictators morphs invisibly to managers.
Right around this age would have been a great time to buy What to Expect When You’re Expecting Teenagers. Except, I don’t think they carry that on Amazon?
Now our two children are wrapping up their final years of high school, and we are naively faced with REAL decisions. To be honest, many of these choices were a bit of a blindside to us as parents. We still can’t figure out what happened to those years between ages 12 and 16 (let alone 18!!). If anyone finds extra years laying around, please send them our way. Seriously. The stalling techniques our kids used when balking at bed times could come in SUPER handy now that we are trying to stop Time ourselves. We have been let-go as Managers and find ourselves to be reassigned as Expert Guides.
Our daughter is a senior in high school. I cannot even begin to describe the number of decisions we have navigated this year alone. Though we have always had an open, honest relationship with our daughter, we weren’t really prepared to pass her the Decision Baton. No longer can we make choices for Kendyl. It is time for Kendyl to move past picking and choosing, and start deciding for herself. She will begin making her own difficult decisions, and discover many wonderful ones as well. She is forging her own path, and we are once again changing our roles as parents. We are transitioning from guides to Supportive (Supervising) Cheerleaders. Eventually, we will drop the supervisory role.
Sound simple? Try telling that to parents sending their oldest child off to prom. ::DEEP breaths:: . While she had the time of her life at her senior prom and will hold her memories dear, Mr. Brooks and I really struggled to make good decisions as parents while allowing Kendyl to make good decisions as an adult. In the end, we feel both happened. In fact, I feel I grew up a little over the weekend, too.
One thing that made me feel better – I shared the story of our decisions with my own parents.
Thank goodness we have parents to turn to when faced with decisions. I guess we never stop guiding our children, or needing guidance. Though the power of parental influence waxes and wanes, it is never truly discarded. In fact? I welcome my parents’ expert guidance and cheerleading much more now than I did when I was 18. These things take time, I guess.
And if some of you find those lost years for me, then I’ll have some extra time to figure it all out. To sound cliché, enjoy this time while your children are young. Our now-fourth graders will be seniors in high school in the blink of an eye, and you will wonder where all your time went. I wish you a decision-filled journey.