One of the hardest things about parenting isn’t the sleepless nights, well I mean, it is in the baby / toddler stage as I’m there now with Oscar, but long-term whats harder than that is them turning into a young adult. Curfews, Friends, School… nobody tells you just how difficult being in charge of all that is, it’s an emotional roller coaster that’s for sure. There have been enough tears in this house to last a lifetime over attitude and the fear of doing it all wrong.
I can only speak from my own experience and I know Hollie isn’t the easiest of Teenagers, she’s very strong-willed, argumentative and sometimes an absolute idiot ! We have very quickly learned that using the “I told you so” method just doesnt work, if anything it makes her more determined to make it work. I think we forget so easily that the need for adventure and to explore is so critical at this age, they are stepping out, away from the parental bubble we have wrapped them up in and literally going it alone and that scares the shit out of me. Of course we still have boundaries, curfews and rules but I understand it’s a natural thing for her to do to push against them, just like a toddler does.
I can’t stop Hollie making wrong choices and honestly I really wouldn’t want to, these wrong choices are life lessons, they are defining her into a young adult but I have had to learn to be patient. It’s not come easy to me, funnily enough you’d think after 13 years of parenting Id be a pro at counting to ten under my breath but sadly not. She knows exactly what buttons to press, maybe that’s because she’s a mini me and we are 2 peas in a pod, whatever it is I’ve had to learn real quick not to react because it fuels the fire in her irrational teenage brain.
Instead I’m learning to understand why she’s made these decisions and support her. I’ve let go of trying to control her every move (yes I was even using find my iPhone to track her down! ). Instead I try to influence, which means she’s more open to the idea of talking to me when the shit hits the fan. That alone gives me great comfort, I can’t bare to think of her needing me and not being able to tell me. Ok I’m still 18 in my head, and the only thing I have on my side is that I’m still quite with it, she can’t get much past me but I don’t probe her for information, I wait for her to come to me and then I give her advice without the judgment. Yes sometimes I don’t like what I’m hearing, but whats the use of being angry it just means she won’t come to me again and I need her to know wherever she is, whatever she’s doing she can call me no matter how late or how far away she might be.
One thing I realised really quickly was not to lose my shit over her choice of friends, her tribe. Theres a few shall I put it “characters” in Hollie’s circle of friends, some older, some younger it has nothing to do with age. They’re not bad kids and I hate that phrase as I don’t believe any child or teen is bad without reason, some just have life really tough and miss out on the support they need whether that’s at school or at home. Hollie’s tribe is the most important thing in her life, yep more than us for the time being anyway and I’m ok with that, because I know that although I’m pretty cool as mums go, I’m not that cool and I never will be, even when we are in the middle of a tent at Bestival listening to a stage full of sweaty lads banging out the latest Grime music, so I don’t expect her to hang out with me on a Friday night but I do expect her to come home at our agreed curfew and to be contactable at all times.
I know she loves us, and we love the bones off her, I know there’s still a good few heated debates to be had mainly over the noise that comes out of her bedroom !. But more than that I’m so proud of her, yes she is a nightmare but a bloody amazing one that we are helping grow into a fully fledged adult. I know one day we will look back on these years, at some of the things she’s said to me and we will laugh till it hurts but isn’t that what parenting is all about. Our greatest achievements are those that take us out of our comfort zone, challenge us till we get a headache and send us to the wine !!
My only advice would be…. be their friend – it is allowed. As hard as it might be and as much as you disagree, listen to them, sometimes all they want is to be heard. Don’t take offence when they say they don’t need you, because they do ,just in a different way. Learn how to count to ten under your breath because it really does help, it helps me to stay calm especially when she’s dyed her hair green and looks like Grotbags ( if you can’t remember who she is click here) yes it was that bad !!
Your babies grow, you will still protect them, they will still rinse your bank balance and you will only love them more – even with green hair !!