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When our kids are little and they need us to feed them and clothe them and burp them, it’s easy. We are their only means of survival. Our role as parent and caregiver is pretty much, “Do this or your kid will die.”
Then, as they grow up a bit, we have to start letting them do things for themselves.
Pick our their own clothes. Choose snacks, decide what games to play, or what television to watch.
But we are there. Right there to help them make a better decision if their choice isn’t a good one.
Then, in what seems like overnight, they’re a teenager. Off to high school and hanging out with kids who drive and shave and do all sorts of other things I’m not really ready to think about.
And this, this is where I don’t exactly know how to fit into my kid’s life. If we help too much, then we are enabling them. Making them codependent on us to do things like bring their forgotten homework to class or make sure they get the special shoes for dance.
But if we don’t help enough? We are setting them up for a failure.
Showing them they can’t rely on us. If we aren’t there for our kids in a time I’d need, will they just turn to other, less reliable and trustworthy options?
How do you make these choices for yourself and for your teenager?
How do you know when to get involved and when to back off.
A lot of times, I try to take cues off of my daughter. To see when she thinks she needs me and when she really needs me, but as she grows up, and gets smarter, the two are becoming more and more indistinguishable.
Parenting teenagers is hard. We don’t always know what they need because they don’t know what they need either.
And the thing is, it’s not going to get any easier. Our role as caregivers has shifted to care advisors, and I don’t really know how to feel about that.
So, what do you do? How do you decide when to help and when to stand aside?
What, if any, is the magic answer?
For now, I am just going to keep on loving my kiddo as much as I can, and listening to her. Because if nothing else, I know that listening is important, and maybe she can just tell me what she needs.
And maybe that will be enough.