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ANONYMOM: 8 Going On 18

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I have a daughter, she’s 8 going on 18, and driving me crazy! Of course, I love her to death; she’s feisty, independent, and a free thinker. All traits I admire, but these traits are also difficult to parent. I find myself struggling between wanting to encourage her strong personality, while at the same time, trying to keep her in check with the fact that the world doesn’t revolve around her. 

It’s driving me nuts to see her mimic teenagers, then I realize that before I know it, she’ll be a teenager! The fear sets in. I’m trying my best to be a good role model and build a relationship where she knows she can always come to me. 

I’m also blessed to have mom friends, who I respect immensely, that are currently dealing with teenage daughters of their own. I’m trying to learn from them. I’m seeing these incredible moms with their incredible daughters navigating this stage of parenting and it’s scary. Moms who are seemingly doing everything right and yet these once innocent and sweet little daughters are now prisoners of their teenage brain and acting totally out of character. 

By nature, I’m a planner (aka control freak). I tend to worry a lot, and to combat this anxiety, I plan. I’m fully aware that my planning is just a false sense of control, but it makes me feel better. I start to wonder; how can I plan for the teenage years?

I remember before having kids, I’d see parents and totally judge them. I’d think to myself, I would NEVER let my kids eat all that junk food or play on an iPad. Fast forward 10 plus years and two kids later and I have no shame handing them sugary snacks as they play on their iPad. Full disclosure, there is a little shame, but there comes a point when you realize it’s all in the name of survival and I cut myself some slack. I don’t want to make that same mistake again; feeling unwarranted judgy-ness, now potentially self-directed. Knowing how committed and focused I already am, and perpetually over-thinking (better yet, self-judging) that I myself can and should do even better, even more as a parent. 

The reality is that we’re all trying very hard to do our best; we all love our children and although it might be a bumpy ride, the majority of us will have done our job as parents and will be able to look back proudly and gratefully, and perhaps with pleasant exhaustion, satisfied that we have all, parent and teen alike, have survived the teenage years. 

But the real question is: could we (and should we) be doing it even better…. collectively?  Can we parent in more of an integrative way and less from an isolated Parent Island standpoint? 

I think we can, and I think we should. And not to be completely cliché’

(yes, I’m going to say it)…….

I think it takes a village.

I know, we’ve all heard that said a thousand times, but it holds true. Imagine if we put away our egos, stopped trying to out parent one another, and worked as a team, a community supporting each other and our kids. Together.

I’m not talking about some Facebook parent page (unfortunately Facebook often tends to make adults revert back to their own teenage selves!). Instead, a real community where we’re all invested in each other. Where our kids have other trusted adults that they can go to for guidance and advice and not just rely on their peers for that feeling of connection and support. 

I realize that teenagers are just trying to explore themselves, their surroundings, their meaning, and their purpose, while trying to find their sense of belonging and identity in this world as they navigate their way to their own unique true north. It can be a messy trek through challenging terrain, but much less so, if we all join forces, rise to the occasion and help to be their lighthouses as we teach and remind them to use their inner compass on the daily. Let’s come together, let’s help them to help themselves, and let’s make it a world we all want to be in. 

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