Monthly review – allowing space for growth

Having a single goal focused on parenting, has meant I have learnt much about myself as a parent this year.

In the middle of this year, I wrote a newsletter titled Under parenting, over parenting or just over thinking?

This is an excerpt from what I wrote:

When I look at why do I find it harder to let go and hand over autonomy or responsibility to the teens, I find my intentions are in the right place, but my execution is wrong. My intention is for them to be good kids, with a solid work ethic, who enjoy life and work to their abilities. Our eldest is in his second last year of secondary school and his approach to homework and study makes my head hurt. Ironically his approach is exactly how I approached my schooling in the later years – last minute and unplanned, but it all gets done when it is due! I realise now how poorly this works as a study strategy and try to educate him on this, but like I was at his age, he is confident all is well and there is no need to change.

I have been saying less and less about his application to his studies and the result has been that he is still doing what he does and getting everything done, but we don’t argue over it. Somedays I think this is great, he needs to work this out for himself and feel the consequences of his efforts. Other days I think maybe this isn’t the best approach and I should do more to ensure he makes the most of the opportunities and talents he has. Somedays I am not even sure what I think!

One of the biggest lessons I have gained this year from focusing on being more present as a parent, is all kids, especially teenagers, need space to grow and mature.

While we still have boundaries for the teenager, we have backed off in many ways with regards to giving him space to make more decisions himself and be responsible for managing himself. The result has been a significant increase in maturity over the last six months. It may have happened anyway, but I believe giving him the space to grow on his own terms did certainly aid this growth.

It isn’t easy always to watch though as the decisions he makes aren’t always spot on, but what has been great to watch has been the self reflection that has occurred after the fact. The recognition that he got it wrong and would do it differently next time.

Our relationship is in a much better place than it was at this time last year and I think it is getting better all the time.

I remember about two or so years ago talking to a neighbour who had a son a couple of years older than ours. I was talking about how I was finding it a challenging parenting time and she said something very succinct, that I have hung on to:

He’ll come back.

And I think he is on his way back. Those three words helped me a lot when I thought I was doing a pretty ordinary job of parenting and wondering if I had it all wrong.

I didn’t just stand still waiting for him to come back, I had to move in his direction too. I am sure I will have to move some more next year as well as he enters his last year of secondary school. But I feel I will adapt quicker and better through focusing on being present and in tune with the dynamics of our relationship.

What have you learnt about parenting this year?