Why my Teen NEEDS to Parent Me
My teen parenting me!
“MOM! Go to bed!” My teen then pauses the show we were watching. And stares at me. Waiting for me to listen and go upstairs to bed.
I start giggling.
Of course, she’s right. I am tired. It’s way past my bedtime. And I have a wicked full day starting in less than 7 hours. So, I had better heed her advice and go to bed.
I’m giggling because this is exactly what I used to do for her not too long ago. Put the show on pause, or turn off the TV, get her upstairs, read her a story, and get her settled in bed.
For our dog, this was her favorite time of the day … cuddling with both of us in bed while I read to my daughter or she read to me.
After I would leave, with our dog in tow, my daughter would come back downstairs several times, under the pretense of wanting to finish watching the show ~ ‘just 5 more min please!’. But in reality, my daughter simply didn’t want to be upstairs alone.
I would continue to turn the TV off to try and dissuade her. Sometimes, I would go back up and try to settle her again in her bed. Other times, I just waited quietly. On the stubborn nights, I would leave the room to do some chores elsewhere in the house.
There were times that I would come upstairs only to find her asleep on the hall floor. Her compromise. She was upstairs to satisfy me, but she was closer to me and our dog for her comfort.
Ha! The life of a young teen
Now, my daughter is enjoying the luxurious life of a young teen on summer vacation.
As many teens do, she stays up late at night and sleeps in late. And I let her. Her babysitting gig doesn’t happen until the afternoons. Her chores can be done anytime. Our local pool isn’t open until later in the day.
Soon enough, she won’t have this luxury. Once high school and sports start back up, she’ll be going to bed earlier. Out of necessity. So why not let her enjoy this leisurely lifestyle now?
But it’s more than that
I know that part of her wanting to stay up after me is to feel like she has the house to herself. Part of her exploring her independence while still in the safety and security of her home. With me close by but not in sight.
That’s what I relished when she went to bed when she was younger. That quiet time. A moment not being a Mom. Not having to answer questions. Not having to guide, correct, suggest. Time to be me.
That is what she is doing. Being herself. Not being a daughter. Not having to interact with me, her mom. Not having to explain, justify, listen. Her time to explore who she wants to be. Text her friends. Watch DIY & funny videos about her passions – makeup, animals, toddlers, crafts, etc …
This is the start of her moving into full independence away from me. And I want her to do that, comfortably and at her own pace.
Soon enough she’ll be gone
Once she starts high school in a few weeks, time will feel like it’s speeding up. Before too long, she’ll be driving and spending more time away from home. Then, before I know it, I’ll be driving her to college. I know these next four years will wiz by, faster than her young childhood did.
That’s why I stay up way past my bedtime with her. To hang out with her a little longer. To be around her for 5 more minutes. To not be alone upstairs. So much like when she was younger and bedtime was approaching.
When we stay up late, we don’t talk, we’re simply in each other’s presence. Laughing at the same thing. Exclaiming loudly “what just happened?” or “they did What?”
I relish these times. The closeness. The camaraderie. The love. Being present with her.
Truth be told
As I relish these times, in a way, I am starting to process my impending grief when the time comes and she goes off to college. I know she’ll be out of the house soon. First to college. Then, out on her own. As it should be.
When that happens, I will grieve. Maybe a lot. Maybe a little. Taking the time to enjoy her presence now will help me later when she’s away.
After all, it’s been the two of us for nearly her entire life. So when it’s time for her to catapult the proverbial nest, I want to be fully present to encourage her. I want her to soar in her brilliance. In spite of my potential grief. I don’t want my suppressed grief to bubble up and cloud my excitement about her future possibilities.
Another side to her parenting me
I giggle when she tells me to go to bed. She’s right after all! I’ve stayed up late enough. Time for her to have her alone time. Let her start to spread her wings while still in the comfort of home. With me close by but out of sight.
As she tells me ‘MOM! Go to bed’ I love her determination and confidence in parenting me. That confidence will be her best friend as she enters high school, and then college not long after. That same confidence will calm my nerves when she’s away. I know she’ll be fine.
After all, she’s been practicing on me!
Bumpy teen years?
For some families, the teen years can be a bit bumpy. I often wonder if it’s because some parents are not ready to let go of parenting the way they were when their teen was a child? Or maybe they don’t know how to shift parenting gears as their child is maturing into a teen? Or is their teen simply becoming more independent and they are not sure how to parent them now?
Have you made the shift as a parent of a teen? Is your child wanting independence but still wanting the comfort of home? Have you experienced your young teen wanting to parent you? How does that make you feel? Do you embrace it for what it is – them wanting to experience their independence? Do you take offense?
If you’d like to explore your feelings about parenting a teen further, reach out to the Consciously Awesome team for support by clicking here. We have a tremendous amount of experience with helping you identify and shift through some limiting beliefs, creating new relationships with your loved ones as they themselves change, and processing the roller coaster of emotions that are part of any life. Including life with a teen.
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Shedding the shyness of my youth, I cheer exuberantly for my daughter, her teammates, and even the opposing Field Hockey team! Their pride & heart filled smiles beam in appreciation regardless of the final score.