You’re the most terrible parent who ever existed on this planet! This is not an uncommon accusation uttered towards me these days. As I have recently entered middle-age I have also joined the group of teenage parents on earth. And so far I’m still fumbling about quite a bit in this new world. It’s exactly what I, in my slight desperation, told my teenager the other day in response to the accusation above: I’m also new to this you know!?
Showing my children that I am not all-knowing in life is something that feels important to me. I’m just a human being who loves her children and is trying her utmost to be the best parent she can be. Which is also something I told my teenager yesterday: I love you and I’m trying my very best, which I have done with all my heart every minute of every day since the day you were born.
But big deal, a teenager probably (and rightfully according to me) thinks. Because I believe that this is one of children’s basic rights in life: to have parents who love them and are trying their very best to the best of their abilities, every single day. I am blessed with such parents and that means the world to me. Not that my parents did everything right. Neither did their parents. And all the parents before them. And neither do I. I know that I have made many mistakes when it comes to raising my children and I think this is true for all of us. I believe this is because we human beings are conditioned, mostly from whatever happened in our childhood, in our own unique way and this conditioning comes in the way when we set about the enormous and daunting task of raising a child.
To me there is no such thing as a perfect parent. The most important thing for me, besides loving my children unconditionally, is to always do the best I can and correcting myself along the way while I grow as a human being. I sincerely hope that my children will see this when they are adults and looking back at their own childhood. It makes me think of something the wise Maya Angelou said:
I did then what I knew how to do.
Now that I know better, I do better.
Living in a family with teenagers has made me realize a couple of things about what feels right to me during this sometimes challenging time, so I thought I’d hereby share them with you:
I only have a couple of more years left with my children living under the same roof as me. I therefore really want to try my utmost to make the best out of this unique time because when they’ve left my house, that’s the end of having them around every day. Making the best of this time has for me a lot to do with creating memories together that we will remember for the rest of our lives. This is also why my husband and I have traveled with our children over the past couple of years, and now even live in another country for half a year.
Forget trying to control. My teenagers are their own individuals and believe right now that they know best. It seems they think that their parents are nice to have but that they’d do just fine by themselves too. I realize that this is a pretty natural part of growing up! I have found that controlling them really does not work so I will simply have to trust that I by now have taught them enough about consequences of behaviour, respect and fundamentals about life that they will be able to navigate their way in the world, both online and offline. The only thing I keep repeating and showing them over and over again, is that I love you and I am here. Any time of the day or night. That they can always come to me with whatever issue they might have and that I always will help them to the best of my abilities.
And finally, my favourite realization: being a teenage parent is the greatest way to keep on meeting myself and my own issues. Every time I argue about something with my teenagers, regardless of the topic, I can use this opportunity to investigate inside myself: why is this particular thing such a big deal to me? What is it inside me that gets triggered and why? Every time I do this, I never fail to discover interesting stuff about myself and for that I’m really grateful.
Over the past couple of years I have come to a deep realization about having children. It’s about the fact that we as parents have our children on loan so to say. I can’t describe this more beautiful than Kahlil Gibran in his poem On Children from his book The Prophet so here goes:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love, but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
Photo: Renee Fisher – unsplash.com