Changing Gear in the Teens years...
If your child is nearing their teen years, you need to know that your role is about to change entirely. And knowing this will help you adjust to their needs and avoid the friction you may be fearing.
It goes something like this:
In the years from 0-6, you are your child’s first teacher. You show them everything…how to go eat, walk, get dressed…everything! At around the age of 7, these things change. Other teachers arrive onto the scene at school and in their activities, and a portion of your role shifts to administrator. You know – driving them to appointments, tracking library books, driving to play dates. This is often a very busy time for you and your child, and although you are still one of their teachers, a bit of independence is beginning to emerge.
Now – here is a secret no one tells you......you will have to relinquish both of these roles around the age of 14, when your child begins to be able to think more abstractly. Your role will need to become that of their ‘Coach’. A person who asks the right questions, supports them in figuring out their core values and who they want to be in the world. All of those other details you were managing so wonderfully all of those years? You need to let go of some of them. And trying to hold on too closely to the ‘teacher’ and ‘administrator’ hats is one of the main reasons teens begin to think of their parents as invasive, or nagging. Not that you don’t still need to pay attention somewhat to teaching (although seriously – they can learn nearly anything on YouTube) or administering (they are not likely to get themselves to a dentist appointment without your involvement), but much of this new stage is about values and listening and trust. And simply being there. Close, but not too close….which oddly enough, will keep them close.
*Thank you to Dianna Sterling for introducing me to this concept in her book Parent as Coach. It has made an enormous difference in my family life!