Our kids aren’t always going to appreciate the fact that we want to be involved in their lives. In fact, as they go through the “tween” and “teen” years – they may outright resent it at times! That can be hard to swallow, but if we can relax a little bit, it might help as we sort through their moods and try to find out how we can best help them.
I know that when I was growing up, I had it pretty easy. Sure, I went through some friendship and boy issues, but for the most part, I didn’t have huge crisis’ envelope my life. I do remember however, that there were times when I just wanted to be left alone. Not because I didn’t love my parents but because I needed to figure things out for myself. I needed to figure “me” out.
I think every child needs that at some point. Remembering my own growing up years helps me as I try to navigate my daughter’s tween years. It can get scary when you feel like they are pulling away or when they won’t share things with you. At times, you can even think they are hiding something. But it’s important to remember that every child has their own comfort zone, and boundaries within that comfort zone that they best feel led to learn, grow, and confide in.
My stepson, my oldest daughter, and my youngest daughter are all 3 very distinct and different personalities. The way I try to reach and get through to one of them, doesn’t always work with the other two. And when I try to pry into things more, sometimes it can only make things worse. I’m not saying to not get involved or know what is going on with your child. For you need to. But I am saying to know HOW to get involved with your child. And that’s not always easy.
For me, I think sometimes I can tell my children that I’m there for them maybe a bit too much. I think (based on what they’ve said) that that fact is well established. So now it’s up to me to not always be ready to be a good advisor, but to be a good listener. My daughter may not always want my advice but she may well want a hug or a compassionate ear. She may not always want to hear what an adult thinks of her because right now it is so very important what her peers think of her!
It’s so hard to not take it personally when a child doesn’t want to confide in you. But as a parent, I think we need to look at the bigger picture. If they NEVER confide in us, then that’s something to take note of and seriously look at. But if they do confide in you for most things, then give them a little space as they figure out the rest. It may just be that they don’t want to disappoint you or don’t want you to think badly of them if they are struggling or having issues. Continue to be faithful in praying for your child, encouraging them and finding different ways to let them know you are available, ready, and willing, to listen and love them through their growing up years. And yes, have attentive ears, alert eyes and a resourceful heart and mind so that you know what is truly going on with them just in case a moral or critical issue truly IS going on!
For the most part, I think we as parents need to learn not to panic if we think we are losing our kids or they don’t want to talk to us anymore. Keep trying. Keep loving. Keep praying and keep being creative in how you communicate with them. Don’t give up – but don’t beat them over the head with it either. Gentleness and consistency often works best.
I know that as I go through these adjustments and learning phases, just like you, that I have to constantly reevaluate how I come across and how my kids perceive me. I’m constantly in learning mode – and that’s a good thing! It’s just important that we don’t get discouraged. I think that if we hang in there and continue to love, share, communicate, and yes, give space at times – we’ll find that the main “go to” person for our child when it really counts…. Will indeed be us.