Anything & Everything

September 16, 2013

Parenting Teens: So Hard, So Thankless, So Important

Filed under: ADHD,Children,Daily Life,Parenting — Susan Morgan @ 10:15 am

Who ever knew how tough a job parenting would be? Especially now that those loveable, chubby cheeked babies have morphed into self obsessed, freedom craving teens. It seems just when I get one child’s problem sorted out, another comes to take its place. There is no peace, no rest, no chance to catch your breath.

It’s no wonder comedians do routines about this seemingly endless time of perpetual conflict and need to let kids this age try their fledgling wings. The grunts and questionable fashion choices… the abominable noise that passes for music and the utter disregard for anything an older person (parent or not) has to say are pretty hard to take sometimes. Parenting children at this age is by far the toughest thing I’ve ever done, probably will ever do.

Okay, maybe there’s a college catalog proofreading project I could name that is a match, but I can’t be sure. It’d call for more thought than I have time to give.

Today it’s the trials and tribulations of my 8th grade son, who chose a web design elective class but now, after a few weeks, has decided he doesn’t like it after all and wants to switch to music. This change of heart certainly has nothing to do with the summons before the guidance department for viewing an inappropriate website. Or the lunchtime detention given out today, to help improve concentration and attitude.

Music, in my (humble) opinion, isn’t a lot of heavy mental lifting. My parental instincts sense a desire to escape a difficult situation where keeping a grade up in the acceptable range is going to be tough. That insight is at war with the part of me that always thought of all my children, this one would make a good musician — he has excellent rhythm (unlike his mother) and a memory for scores and lyrics that’s rather impressive.

To complicate my parental dilemma, I’ve just allowed my senior in high school daughter to make a class switch from French II to Chorus… essentially for the same reason. The language was hard and boring, the singing was something she likes, an easy way to a good grade and a support to her extra-curricular theater work.

So why isn’t it as easy to approve the Web Design, Music switch?

To be honest, it’s totally sexist. He’s a boy, and I’m thinking it’s our job as parents to toughen him up, to have him face down difficult people and situations, to struggle through hard times and come out the other side with a sense of triumph, if little else. To make him a man.

But can you teach this? Or is it learned though the hard knocks of life?

If making our son stick it out worked, then shouldn’t it have kicked in by now? After the multiple color coded levels of karate, the several seasons of rec league basketball, the short-lived guitar lessons and year of hip hop dance classes you’d think he would have gotten the idea you finish what you start. Seems the message isn’t getting through.

Perhaps it’s time for a more risky, more worrisome approach? Letting him do as he wants now… give him the escape clause and see what he does with it. It’s only 8th grade, and this isn’t a core subject. A part of me thinks this could make, or break him, and I’m not at all sure which.

Why does parenting have to be so hard? Why do we have to love these children so much, with everything we have? Why does what they become matter so very much to us?

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