Yes, being a mother to teens is angst-y and in many ways much harder than when they were toddling around but there is a flip side– being a teen mom also means you get to give the middle finger to things you used to worry about, or drive you up a wall, because you’ve bought yourself a ticket to “You are old enough to fend for yourself and I’ve decided to pass the torch” town. I mean, if my kids are comfortable with being uncomfortable (willingly) then I can master that feeling, too.
I no longer feel the need to try to control certain things that used to make me fear others were talking about me and my parenting (or lack thereof) around the water cooler.
My kids have reached an age where they are (mostly) responsible for themselves. Can I stand at the side lines and correct them and complain and tell them I really wish they’d do this or that only to realize it’s a waste of my breath? Sure, but I just don’t want to anymore and I’ve given them full control of these 5 things:
My kids are taller than me and I couldn’t spoon feel them if I tried. I know I am in control of what comes home from the grocery store, but if they are with their friends and eat Tootsie Rolls and Doritos for dinner, then come home and feel the need to have ice cream, I don’t have it in me to monitor that any longer like I did when they were 9.
Sooner or later, it will catch up to them and they will wonder why they never feel good. Telling them they will feel better if they eat more fruits and veggies doesn’t make them want to eat them any more today than it did when they were toddlers.
Checking The Parent Portal
They are old enough to figure out that if they don’t get work done on time, there is a penalty. I feel like I add more value to their lives if I let them do their work and hand it in without reminding them or standing over them to make sure it’s done right and on time.
My parents didn’t have a portal to check and it taught me to advocate for myself and take control of the work I was producing. I carried that work ethic to college and in my career. I want the same for my kids.
Wearing Weather Appropriate Clothing
Coats are not the way to go according to every teenager out there. I’ve struggled with this since we’ve lived in Maine where it’s common to have temperatures that dip below zero for weeks on end. But if that won’t make them cover their body with a coat made of down feathers, neither will their over-bearing mother who wants to save them from hypothermia and frostbite. If they are uncomfortable, eventually they will take care of it and cover up.
If They Like Me
There was a time when all of my kids were in the midst of puberty and I felt like our relationship was slipping away. It made me sad and I compromised what I thought was the right thing to do as a parent to preserve some of that relationship. But guess what? It didn’t make them like me more.
I am their parent, I have rules and am only comfortable with certain situations when it comes to my kids. They are stuck with me. I refuse to compromise their safety, my peace of mind, intuition, or beliefs to get my kids to think I am cool. In my kids’ eyes, I am so far from cool and there’s no chance that will change– I am okay with that– it actually makes me feel like a better parent.
How Clean Their Room Is
Now, we all have our limits and using their room as a trash can or compost pile isn’t going to fly here. No one likes roaches, rats, or ants living in their house. But if they don’t want to make their bed, wash their sheets, and clean up the piles of messiness on the floor– I’ve learned to let it go. They have a door on their room; I can shut it and go on with my day and use my energy to engage in something else. Like reading trashy romance novels.
There are many things I look for in my kids that require more energy than these five things. I care they are kind. I can that they are respectful. I care that they learn how to deal with losing, disappointment, and heart-break in a healthy way. I want them to be aware of others.
People will remember them for various reasons, but they will never think back and say, “Man those Smith kids never wore a coat and ate Fruit Loops all the damn time.” After realizing that, I let go. Like, all the way.
Not only am I happier, my kids are happier and, if I am being honest, I’ll admit that they started reaching for their jackets (and carrot sticks) more after I stopped nagging them to do so.