Parenting is a series of mistakes, failures, successes, heartache, pride.
My firstborn is certainly the research subject in all our parenting decisions.
She is also the catalyst for many rules and lots of changes we make in our family.
She was always a dynamo. She never met a stranger. She’s a social butterfly through and through and I am always content to be “Her Mom.”
I’ve watched her grow and fail, learn, and dance to and fro.
We began homeschooling because of her fall birthday. We tried a month of third grade because of her and promptly brought her back home.
I pushed until she pushed back.
I learned boundaries as a parent. I learned how to be me, a mother, a person, and make personal demands based on my own needs from her example.
She’s quite the lawyer in her well-thought-out arguments and I struggle sometimes to be democratic, respectful, gentle.
I was never treated with respect in my own home when I was growing up. I had no privacy. I wasn’t allowed to express emotions or thoughts. I attempted suicide at age 20 and ran away at age 21.
I want to be a better parent than mine were. Navigating this modern world with no role models and no guidance is really hard.
I feel I am in uncharted waters with an almost twenty-year-old.
The Christian parenting and the secular parenting books, blogs, experts all say almost the same things – tough love, harsh consequences, isolation, withdrawing love and affection, removing privileges. We don’t do that with our young kids, so why would we start now?
I never liked the purity or stay at home daughter movements. They remove autonomy from women and open doors for abusive relationships.
As children get older, the parent-child relationship evolves into friendship, hopefully. It becomes a solid relationship with gives and takes. It amazing to watch these little people grow into adults.
Our society does not respect children. Teenagers are viewed with suspicion and young adults are often humiliated and taken advantage of by many adults.
Young people have so much to offer if we allowed them respect and freedom they deserve.
Parenting a Young Adult
I have always tried to respect my children. It’s sometimes difficult when I feel disrespected and triggered. I often have to walk away and give myself a timeout and think about it.
I have very few rules: no drugs. no porn. no illegal activity.
I require my children to respect each other.
Communication is important. It’s up to me as the adult and parent to model healthy and nonviolent communication. Sometimes, it’s really, really hard. I have had to walk away to think and regroup and calm down many times.
I find myself more and more stating as calmly as possible, “What you said/did is disrespectful and that’s not ok.”
We tried to do a contract, but it was worthless with no real consequences. It just has to be an ongoing conversation and it’s exhausting.
I keep going back to respect. If we’ve never done arbitrary consequences, how can I begin now? I don’t want to require her to pay rent because she needs to save for college and her future, even though she hasn’t saved a penny in over two years from her part time job.
Attending college classes and working a part time job is paramount. I feel it teaches responsibility and offers a gradual climb into the adult world of vast responsibility.
While I would love to expect chores to be completed, that isn’t always the priority at this stage when there are assignment deadlines and potentially late shift work schedules.
I have found that if I issue very specific time-sensitive commands, they get done more immediately.
Of course I’ve been disappointed by some of my child’s poor choices.
I had to get over my own issues with piercings, tattoos, and dyed hair. It’s her body.
While tattoos and ear plugs are pretty irreversible, I don’t worry so much about hair anymore.
It’s more worrisome when she’s made poor financial and relationship choices. She has to live and learn from her mistakes.
She hates college and I don’t really blame her. It really is so very different than twenty years ago and I don’t understand why. It should be easier with so much information at our fingertips. She’s taking some time off and looking for full time work.
I’m trying not to project onto her my education values. Sometimes it does feel like a kick in the teeth. All those homeschool years – wasted? It’s her life and her future. But I fear she may have unnecessary struggles without a college degree, certificate, apprenticeship, or training.
One-third of college students drop out at the end of their freshman year. The United States now has the highest college dropout rate in the industrial world.Thrivers by Michelle Borba
I have to set clear boundaries – with consequences.
It’s really hard when there are few arbitrary consequences that matter with older teens and young adults.
Natural consequences can be scary and dangerous. Risk taking isn’t such a big deal with small kids. They might get a bruise or at worst a broken bone. Older teens and young adults might get in trouble with legal authorities or cause real irreparable harm to themselves and others.
I don’t want to the younger kids exposed to inappropriate media. I don’t want my younger kids exposed to porn, racist or sexist jokes, or violence.
Social media continues to expose the masses to a plethora of information, not all of it good. We use it as education as to boundaries, what’s worthwhile and what is abusive or vile.
I say often why something is inappropriate. Often I feel it shouldn’t be consumed by anyone.
I teach about tone and sarcasm. We need to practice kindness and I must model it for them to be to recognize it.
Why should we exploit others for entertainment?
Preparing for the future is most important for young adults.
The goal is that they be successful and independent citizens.
I try to begin young with all my kids, teaching them valuable life skills.
I discuss finances, values, goals frequently about things they understand.
They know when we have struggled financially because of an emergency. They understand when we’re saving or paying off debt. I want them to realize their privilege in financial security also.
They’ve never known adversity. Other than stress and moving frequently as a military family.
I require my kids to purchase their own smartphones. We pay for the monthly family plan.
As soon as their age is in double digits, they call to make their own appointments, with me standing by to assist if needed.
I encourage my kids to talk to clerks and store employees if they need something or to place an order. They need to learn to communicate clearly and respectfully with others.
Of course, kids must learn to do their laundry and make meals for themselves. I provide a cookbook with all our favorite family recipes.
They must help with car maintenance. It’s important to learn and understand the expense of necessary auto upkeep.
We have 529 college plans, but they probably won’t pay for an entire four-year degree. They have to work part time, save, and apply for scholarships. We discourage loans and the lifelong debt that brings.
It’s so hard sometimes to watch the fledglings flounder, fall, fail. I want to rescue them, but that wouldn’t help them learn to be successful.
You might also like:
- Graduating from Homeschool
- Parenting Teens
- 5 Best Life Skills Books for Teens
- How to Prepare for After High School
- Homeschool High School
- Teen Driving Tips
- Emotional Health
- Teaching Kids About Healthy Relationships
Sometimes the hardest thing about parenting is letting go and letting God. Learning how to pick yourself up from failure is so important. I love that you let your kids be who they are and not stuff themselves! That’s so important to soaring unfettered! Good job, Mama!
Theresa Boedeker says
I learned many parenting tips from my parents. I wanted to avoid their mistakes and not do the things that didn’t work. Great list here. We are moving from doing everything for our kids to releasing them into the world. Teaching them how to navigate daily life (run the dishwasher, car maintenance, filling out an application) is so important. Having respect for one another. Listening and negotiating with one another. And parenting teens takes more time and energy than parenting toddlers. At least in my experience. But it is worth it. The teen years are fun and you are building a relationship that you will have all your life. I have one teen and one adult. She is wonderful. A great friend. That friendship turns more into equals as the teen ages.
Wow, this is such an interesting take on parenting. My parents left me to my own resources as soon as I graduated high school. When I decided to delay college a year to work on independence skills *I’m multiply-disabled, though my parents are in denial of everything except for one disability that they can’t deny), my parents practically abandoned me. When I was 21 and in a mental crisis, they just told me to toughen up and learn to care for myself. I’m so glad you see parenting as a never-ending job and really hope your daughter will appreciate your parenting style. I’m so sorry you, like me, didn’t get the respect you deserved from your parents.
Jennifer Lambert says
Thank you for your story. I want to avoid the extremes that I experienced and witnessed growing up. I want to have a good relationship with my kids when they’re adults.
Lauren Renee Sparks says
I really enjoyed reading what you are doing as a parent since I am quickly approaching this phase. Thank you.
Lisa notes says
It’s a challenge to relearn our parenting techniques with each decade our children enter. But it’s worth our efforts to maintain close ties and camaraderie that comes with becoming friends with our adult children. I appreciate your humble attitude here, Jennifer. My daughters are now 25 and 30 and it’s a wonderful season of life to still get to be their mom at these years!