Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A New Phase of Parenting

I think we have reached a new, difficult phase of child raising....the young adult.  How in the world did that little boy that used to sit in my lap twirling my hair become this 19 year old that towers over me?

With extra time on his hands because basketball is only 3 days a week instead of 6, Mike has gotten a lot more social in the last couple months.  He has started hanging out with some friends he went to high school with.  So far, they seem like good kids....but, since they are just kids, we aren't letting our guard down.

Navigating this late teen/young adult mine field is proving to be challenging.  I think part of the challenge is that Jay and I never experienced this phase in our life.  When we were Mike's age, we were married with a 10 month old.  So, we are kind of winging it.

It isn't easy trying to keep communication open (and not hostile!) about the changing desires and expectations his social life brings.  Mike wants more freedom in his social life and, recently, the issue of curfews has become, well, an issue.  Texting debates go back and forth about what a reasonable time is...and, as you can imagine, his idea of "reasonable" and our idea of "reasonable" are quite different.

He wants more freedom....but, as a member of our family, there are still boundaries.  In some ways our situation is unique because, as sleep deprived  parents of an infant, toddler, and special needs child, staying up late is not easy for us.  As Mike's parents, we understand his need/desire to stay out later with his friends.    Trying to come up with a happy compromise is proving to be challenging!

I see his point in a way because, if he's hanging out at a friend's house(with parental supervision), not doing anything "wrong"(a.k.a. drinking, drugs, sex)....then what's the big deal?  Yet, knowing there is someone at home waiting for you also helps to keep teenagers honest!  Plus, I can't really sleep deeply until I know he's home.  Even during his basketball season, I never truly slept restfully until I heard the beep of his car alarm and the opening and locking of the front door.(Jay always slept on the couch until Mike came home, too.)

It's give and take....we have to let go of a little control at each of his stages of growing up and Mike still needs to be respectful of our needs and what is reasonable.  Trying to make sure he understands this, without anyone becoming defensive, can be's all so new and sensitive.

So, we are wading into uncharted waters and trying our best to swim and not drown.  I want our relationship with Mike to remain strong as he continues to mature and gets ready to fly from the nest.  Seeing him changing and pulling away....and letting him go little by painful!  I'm enjoying watching him turn into a young man (especially when he is "happy Mike")...but I miss that little boy that was so enthusiastic, loving, and that I knew always loved me(and liked me!).

Since Mike's been extra happy and nice the last few days, I knew something was up.  Even Jon and Andrew had raised eyebrows at their overly generous brother...since offering to share his possessions is not something we usually hear from Mike.(Usually, they have to ask and are met with an eyeroll (and a huff) "Fine..but you better not lose "it"or mess up my stuff!")

Sure enough, he announced he was playing mini-golf lat night with a friend...who happens to be a girl I know he has a crush on.  That same friend just arrived and is playing basketball with him outside!  Lord...Give me strength!

Diapers and sleepless nights are so much easier than dating!!!