It’s no secret that raising teenagers is a challenge. But when 2020 decided to turn up the heat on parents all across the world, parents of teenagers had to really shift into a different kind of mode. One that relies on us watching and waiting for our teens to show us how best to navigate this crazy time.
When our kids are young, it is our job to guide them through tough times. We give them the everyday tools to help them in future challenges. As they become teenagers, they hit the ground running. All we can do is hope and pray that the years spent teaching them will keep them on the right path as they discover who they truly are.
I have recently referred to parenting a teenager during 2021 as a “Watching and Waiting” mode. When parenting older kids, our skills have had to be sharpen in a different way. Our teenage children have become accustomed to having some freedom that frankly, as much as we hate to admit it, they earned. They had spent the last few years going to school, away from their parents, for hours during the day. Most had learned to successfully navigate academics and friends. They got used to their sports schedules and their social time. Some got jobs for the first time, eagerly going to work to make that very first paycheck.
Our teenager’s routines were their lives. Those routines were not supposed to change so quickly and without warning. Then all of a sudden, in 2020, it all just stopped. The pandemic forced our teenagers onto an unknown path that we never had time to prepare them for. A scary path for all of us.
Watch and Wait
So, we watch and wait. We watch how our older children are going to react to what is around them and the challenges that lay ahead. We wait to see what kind of affect these challenges will have on them. Patiently, we wait to see what our next parenting move is.
And believe it or not, it is in this current “Watching and Waiting” mode, that some of us have found reward.
As I watch my 16 year old daughter adjust to her newest normal, I am inspired. A social butterfly in nature, she was only able to communicate with her friends online. The beginning of the pandemic was filled with shared TikTok dances and Snapchat stories. Her club soccer workouts shifted to online workouts. When school started online in 6 week sessions, she took each week as another way to challenge herself. Her grades got better than they were when she was on campus. My daughter, who looked forward to seeing her friends on campus everyday, now saw this as a new challenge that needed to be won. And we all know our teenagers love to win.
As a parent, I watched her grow a little bit more confident in knowing she was succeeding despite the barriers put in her way. I waited for her to need me, like she did when she was little. Some days, she needed my support. Other days, she needed me to back off. She needed me to offer a few words of encouragement when times got lonely or schoolwork got overwhelming. Mostly she needed me to know she was going to conquer 2021 a better young lady.
In the end, my daughter taught me how to find the positive in what had been a pretty horrible year. All it took was some watching and waiting.