Have you ever heard someone say, “Get a life”? Most often it means “stay out of my business”, but in a more condescending way. But, maybe it is good advice for those parents who have invested a great deal emotionally into their children. The teen years are where this fact is most apparent.
“What Do I Do Now?”
You are not the first parent to ask that question. Parenting is only fifty percent emotional. The other half is providing the practical teachings that will equip your child for a lifetime. It is a balancing act. Those that tip the scales in one or the other direction, find that their relationship with their children hits many a snag.
Usually it is emotions that cause us, as parents, to seek a greater role in our child’s life than is needed at certain times. We are speaking specifically about the teen years. Sure, it was okay for you to go everywhere with your child when they were seven or eight. The situation is awkward when they are fifteen or sixteen.
It is time for your child to spread their wings and use the tools that you have cultivated within them over the years. They are not babies but still not adults either. Emotionally, they are dealing with peers and issues like sex, drugs, bullying, self-identity and self-esteem. Physically the hormones are changing their bodies in ways they can’t control but can learn to handle. At home, parents are setting rules and handing out consequences for breaking them. Awareness is heightened because so much is in flux all at the same time.
The last thing a teen needs is their mom or dad wanting to go to the movies with their friends. Even worse, mom makes a nuisance of herself at a sleepover as she tries to be “cool” and “hip” for their child’s friends. To your child, this is nothing short of mortifying and they might not speak to you for a few days. It’s normal.
What’s not normal to them is your behavior. Now that your child doesn’t need you so much, you are left out in the cold. Your life has revolved around them for so many years that it is understandably hard to let go. So, what’s the solution?
The answer is to get your own life. Rekindle those interests that you had before parenthood took over. Take a class. Reconnect with old friends. Start a new chapter in your relationship with your spouse. The possibilities are endless and it is time for you to pursue them. Find other ways to channel those emotions and that energy that was once reserved for your child. Doing so now will help to soften the blow when they go off to college and leave the nest.
Expanding their social network is necessary for teens as they approach adulthood. It is also necessary for parents to let go and find themselves as a part of the process.