Anybody with children has probably thought to themselves, “I can’t wait until they are older and the parenting gets easier.” However, those currently parenting tweens and teens might have a few words to say about the idea of things being easier as the tribe gets older.
“I have three sons, two of whom are teens and I would say our parenting efforts have ramped up substantially with our teen boys,” says Gena Ellis. “You think because they can feed and clothe themselves, shower without supervision and they seem more independent that you can back off, but the reality is, the teen years almost require more parenting, just in a different way.”
When children are young the focus is on teaching them right from wrong, how to be polite and what it means to share along with learning to count, and know their colors. As children mature things get a bit more complicated as parents realize the decisions made during these formative years will impact them in the future.
“In the early years, I think both my husband and I were under the impression that the younger years would be the most intensive for us as parents,” Ellis says. “Now that we have moved on, we realize that adolescence is no less intense and that our boys still need us actively involved in their lives. Not overly-involved, but involved enough that we can help them continue to grow and learn what it means to be an independent adult. We are very clear that adolescence is no time to take a back seat when it comes to the parenting journey.”
When Ellis’ oldest son forgot to turn in a paper, her first reaction was to pick up the phone and call his teacher to explain that he had been at band rehearsals all week until late in the evening and he was running behind on his school work. Instead of doing that she asked her son about the situation. He told her he had already spoken with his teacher and explained the situation. They worked something out and mom never had to get involved.
“I was very proud of my son,” Ellis says. “It made me know he has been paying attention to all we have been teaching and modeling for him when it comes to taking responsibility and being accountable. What he learned from this experience was far more powerful that if I had intervened in the situation.”
Here are a few thoughts for those preparing to or already parenting tweens and teens:
“When they are little, children need you in front leading,” Ellis says. “When they are older they need you behind them, encouraging them.”