I read a fun quote the other day.
“Before I got married, I had six theories about bringing up children: now I have six children, and no theories.” – John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
Jason and I have not yet been blessed with the humbling task of raising children, so of course we are filled with theories of how it can be done. ;) That being said, I have a story to share…
The other day we were at the San Diego Zoo and I saw something that drew my attention more than the adorable pandas. We were in line for the bus and I happened to notice that the fifteen-year-old girl in front of us was wearing a light colored shirt and a black bra. I had two ways of knowing it was a black bra. First, you could see it through her light colored shirt. Second, you could see about 1/2 inch of it peaking above her low cut v-neck. Now, I’m not so out of it to realize that today’s fifteen is yesterday’s seventeen. Scary…but a reality. The thing that really disturbed me was that she was with her mom and her twelve-year-old brother.
What?! How did that mom let her out of the house?
Believe me, the teenage years scare me. Jason and I joke that we will have to find a nice home to ship our kids to when they hit those years. This may come off as harsh, but I think the key to parenting a teenager is that you must have more self-confidence than the teenager, which, sadly, really isn’t much! I know what that mom is suffering from…something I’ve labeled as CMS, Cool Mom Syndrome. You may have seen this condition before. Moms suffering from CMS often overlook certain parenting duties (involving “tough love”) such as teaching modesty, in order to stay “cool” in the eyes of their teenage children. These are also the same moms that host the drinking party after prom. My mom did NOT suffer from this condition and I am so blessed that she didn’t. By the time I hit the teenage years, she was savvy. (I have three older sisters.) She would never have let me leave the house like that. In fact, I don’t think I would’ve had the guts to even try, knowing what her reaction would be.
I’ve heard moms say, as their oldest daughters are approaching the unapproachable moody years, that they are scared to death and saddened that they will loose the solid connections with their daughters that they formed throughout their early years. That has to be a hard reality that moms face, losing their daughters to the teenage years. There is hope, though. They do come back with maturity.
I think it’s all about mutual respect. Teenage daughters must show respect to their parents (even if their eyes are rolling behind your back as they walk out of the room) and parents must show respect to them by creating expectations, accountability and consistent follow-through. These are the same things needed throughout the younger years, it’s just tougher to be strong when they pull the attitude card again and again…and again.
My mom (and dad) gave me and my three sisters quite the gift by having expectations of us. As much as I may have rolled my eyes, I can now see that sometimes the best parenting strategies are the most unpopular. Teenagers have enough friends, but they only have one set of parents.
[tags]teenagers, parenting, tough love, San Diego Zoo, John Wilmot[/tags]