Blossoming — and some thoughts for parents of middle schoolers at the end….
To watch a teenager blossom is truly a remarkable thing. As we look forward to homeschooling high school this fall, one thing that is most lovely is to see who this beautiful person before me is becoming. Many of you have younger children, and you think you are seeing this unfolding of individuality. In a way you are, of course, because life is always a process of becoming, and those of you have even older teenagers on the cusp of the twenties will know and will have seen more than I have…but there is something special, more intense and more beautiful in this right- now -cusp-of-15 than there ever has been before. I am enjoying this age. Parenting teens is not for the faint of heart! However, overall it is more fascinating, intimate and loving than I ever remember my own teen years being.
Teens this age can have a beautiful balance of being in nature and increased physical activities along with more responsibility in school, at home, and yes, in technology. (And yes, I am so glad we waited until this year to open up some of the avenues of technology and how it was done in the context of school and using technology as a WORK tool, not entertainment! That has been a huge help, along with strong limits!) The world is opening up, but wanting to be emotionally held by us and talking with us and being with us has not diminished, which is nice to see and I hope continues. I think the greater separation will happen at the 16 year change, which to me is where I think it would more naturally come if we just left development alone without a lot of outside influences. We have had amazing discussions, and the general common sense that I see makes me feel hopeful that whatever storms or mistakes come along, (even big mistakes and big storms), will be handled with grace by our child and hopefully by us.
It is often said that teenagers feel invincible and that is where they get into trouble. I think that is true, because I often look at today’s teens and see such vitality, such hope, such intelligence. I know a crop of really wonderful teenagers. This group of teens has me hopeful for the future of our country and the world.
There was an article about how mothers of tweens (ages 11-12) are the most depressed group of parents as their children go through physical and emotional changes, trying to separate by pushing boundaries, and how marital satisfaction is at its lowest for women (and how often these changes for children come in the midst of when we are changing the most in adult development as well). The linked article also mentions the exhaustion from driving and the children’s activities.
So, for mothers of children these ages, coming from my experience of having a younger teen….Keep talking to your children and keep them close by keeping them with the family unit. A few close friends for your child whose parents you really respect and can be super helpful. If you open things slowly and naturally as your individual child (within developmental reason) shows the maturity and responsibility to handle things, it goes easier – but the older the age the better. Fourteen is a good age for many things to unfold. Hold steady in the current…
Many things I see middle schoolers doing in terms of having this incredible outside the home schedule, and millions of hours with friends, and almost unlimited technology – well, these things to me need boundaries and with boundaries they could be appropriate for high schoolers! If your child is only 11 or 12, try to find some parents with 14-17 year olds. It really helps put things into perspective to see how little an 11 or 12 year old actually is.
The teen years are fun. They can have harrowing moments, but what a beautiful unfolding.