My three girls are all teens now. My son just turned ten and I will tell you, it’s a different world having all my kids in two digits.
Young kids are so different from bigger kids. It’s fascinating to see their minds begin to develop into abstract when before it was all so concrete and literal, but they loved fantasy and fairy tales.
It’s a lot less physical work in parenting big kids and teens, but it’s way more emotional and psychological work now.
I wish I had been more aware during my kids’ formative years. It’s hard in the trenches to see the big picture and realize the affect our words and actions might have on our children’s psychological development. I was healing myself as I was trying to be a wife and parent to four young kids. I’m still healing and working on being a better parent and person.
While it is always a journey, I feel better equipped as a parent the last few years and I can differences in my youngest and my eldest in their mental health. I pray she forgives me and heals as we grow together.
Looking back, having young kids is like living in survival mode. There is little time to be metacognitive – to sit back, to relax, and enjoy it. There are certainly some moments. There are just glimpses. There are tears of joy and of frustration. There are grave moments of regret and apologies to self, God, and the child. There is often blame when I felt like I did it all with little or no help.
I can laugh about my son not sleeping well for his first three years now. I can apologize to my eldest for relying on her as a parent helper too much now. I can continue to revise our priorities and values more towards simplicity now. I can regret our delving into Christian fundamentalism now and make amends in our family spiritual education and healing.
We’re all healthier and calmer because I work hard to make sure our home is a haven. I constantly revise our priorities. I like simplicity.
During the first seven years, children work mainly out of imitation, while from ages 7-14, children work out of authority. This is why attachment is so important to develop a trusting relationship with kids.
This is also why many families experience difficulties with teens not listening. They didn’t feel attached or safe or listened to as young children, so they won’t just magically begin when they’re older. They develop their own thoughts, values, opinions, preferences. Many parents feel threatened and triggered by kids who express themselves, question authority, and other natural developmental growth.
Around age 9, kids undergo a change or crisis when they begin thinking abstractly. They’re continuing their development from young child to older child. They’re reaching the age of reason. They’re learning to trust themselves. They’re developing an opinion and preferences. Fairy tales are no longer as magical, but they may be rediscovered soon enough. It’s important for me to stay optimistic and positive thinking so my kids don’t get burdened, overly anxious, depressed, or upset.
It’s not time to worry yet.
Changes I See
My kids started becoming much more independent around age 10.
They develop opinions about everything. Clothes, food, room arrangements. They sometimes want a whole new decor theme. I am happy to help and guide their choices. They usually have freedom to do what they want to their bodies and their space. Being a military family, we always rented our homes, but now we own our first home, and it’s so much fun!
They complete their homeschool work much more independently. I’m seeing the transition from the grammar phase to dialectic phase in our homeschool curriculum around this age and it’s so exciting! Sometimes, they ask what else they can do or how they can help.
They desire more privacy and alone time, which can be difficult in a household of six people. We do our best.
They can cook simple meals for themselves and the family. I love waking up to treats! I love having cake almost every week!
They’re making more abstract connections and asking really good questions about complex concepts. It challenges me and my thinking and often I don’t have a good enough answer. It can be frustrating, scary, and exhilarating all at once.
I try to be respectful of my growing kids with their development, but occasionally I forget what I felt like at their age or I don’t understand what they’re thinking or feeling.
I ask a lot of questions. I watch the Tik Tok videos and Instagram memes my girls send me. We talk, discuss, and learn and relearn each other. It’s a process, a journey. I am privileged and blessed to travel this life with my children.
The Waldorf curriculum is so incredible because it is so responsive to student development. I believe all children should have access to an education that respects their development and inspires their soul. I wish I had discovered it many years ago when we began homeschooling. I try to incorporate aspects of it in our learning rhythms.
The time has come when I scan the baseball field and can’t recognize my own son among the boys. He has grown and changed so much so fast that I have to squint and look a few times before I’m sure.
He still snuggles up at bedtime for a story.
I love that he still holds my hand on our evening walks.
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