Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Parenthood’s Secret Societies April 13, 2010

I am now officially the mother of two teenage sons! Yesterday my youngest turned 13, and there is no denying it now, not that I would necessarily try. I now have the slightest glimmer into the secret society for parents of teens. I remember feeling similarly when my children were little. I had taken my son to the mall to do a little shopping, and we had his stroller with us. I had previously been able to move freely through the mall traveling among the various floors by escalator and stairs but now I was in need of an elevator. When a salesperson directed me to the back corner of one of the department stores to the elevator there I came face-to-face with a legion of parents with strollers waiting for their ride. I remember thinking I had unofficially been inducted into the “secret society of stroller moms” that previously I had not known existed. There is a similar sense – being a parent of teens – though this time instead of a hidden elevator or a secret handshake – there is a nod, eye-rolling and sigh – as we recognize each other as part of the club. As if to say, “Yeah, me too, good luck with that!”

This is a challenging age, there is no denying that. As they get older, and begin to individuate our once pleasant children can become oppositional in their independence as they strive to make their own decisions and begin the transition into adulthood. It is amazing to observe and it is not without quite a bit of pride and wonder that I am able to watch my sons become the young men that they are, but the process can be difficult as I now have to confront my own issues with letting them go and easing up on their constraints. After all, I am not looking to raise to dependent individuals who are unable to make decisions on their own or who aim to live eternity under the roof of their mother. This is what it’s all about – isn’t it? Letting them go, watching them grow and develop and become happy, self-confident, fully functioning contributors to society – is the basic framework for what our goal is as parents(though I really could flesh that out quite a bit more, I believe you get the idea). That doesn’t make it easy however and yet I do not think any of us are best served by focusing on the difficulties.

So though I may be a member of the secret society, I choose to endeavor to do my best to focus on the positive aspects of this phase of their lives. Sure there will be plenty of sighing and eye-rolling – but there will also be many smiles and beams of pride. People love to unite around their shared misery – I choose to enjoy the wonder of seeing these two young men emerge into the world.  In Appreciative Inquiry they call this “Fanning” (see: Jacqueline Bascobert Kelm, Appreciative Living; The Principles of Appreciative Inquiry in Personal Life, 2005) it is a simple method of positive reinforcement, focusing on and encouraging the behaviors you want rather than on trying to eradicate those you do not. I think we all might do better with that approach. So the next time someone ask me how old my kids are, the answer is “I have two teenage sons – and it’s great!”

 

Bridging the Great Divide March 2, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 6:25 am
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Remember when we were on the young side of the generation gap? I do and I can swear it was just a couple of weeks ago, wasn’t it? Somehow despite all my protestations to the contrary I seemed to have slipped over to the other side lately. What happened? In some ways it seems like only yesterday but I have a feeling it’s been creeping up on me for a long time. My mom, who I used to see as “the adult” is now pushing 85 and most definitely in the older adult category these days. My children who were once innocent babies are now growing into young men (well, they’re teenagers anyway – so that’s headed in the right direction at least.) And I am in my late 40’s – squarely planted in my grown-up world with all of the trappings and responsibilities of adulthood around me.

Yesterday, I was driving my son to school when he made the comment, “Mom, do you even remember what it was like to be young?” Ouch! It may not be crystal clear but I am trying.  I am trying very hard to remember that time in my life when all I really wanted was to hang-out with my friends, away from school and the outdated notions of what my parents thought would be a good use of my time. I thought somehow that I would escape the great divide but I am afraid it’s here all the same.

So now the new challenge begins – to view my children’s experience with an open mind while still establishing the parameters that from my vantage point feel necessary and important. As I am often reminded, my primary function of instilling values in my children and giving them the tools that they need to function in the world is mostly done. Now it is becoming their turn, to take what they have learned and go out into the world to see what they can make of it. It is hard – my impulse to hover is strong, but my wish to see them continue to become the wonderful, independent young men that they are is stronger. My hope is that we can ride through these next years with a mutual respect and understanding that will position us in the future to have close relationships that continue to grow and strengthen.