Monday, February 6, 2012

Balancing as the Ground Keeps Shifting

The week before last, I was in sheer panic mode. I learned long ago that I have no control over another human being. That knowledge as a mother left me feeling helpless.

When they're younger, it's easier to guide them; to implement consequences and/or rewards to steer them in the right direction. As they get older, I want to guide, but let them find their desired destination. Without knowing where they're going, the concept of guidance gets more challenging. Nor do I want their path too narrow. I want to allow enough room for them to still explore, to remain open to other possibilities.

Of course, as the parent in this relationship, it's up to me to draw the boundaries, provide the guidance, and well, be the parent, and my 14 years of parenting thus far gave me no sense of confidence to feel like I knew what to do. 

While there's some comfort in knowing that I'm not the only parent that has struggled with this, there didn't seem to be a magic potion or even a method that could guarantee results. And, of course, even more controversy about any methodologies that may exist. In the end, as usual, I was left to my own gut, my own knowledge of both myself and my children, to find something that may or may not work for us.

Thankfully, I'm not completely alone in this. I've reached out to friends and family, and most importantly, have the support of my parents to help me implement my new strategy.

My end goal is to broaden her path (and yes, I too find this metaphor tiresome, but at the same time, am too tired to find a new one), even as she's done her level best to narrow it. To keep her from making life-altering choices because I know she's too young to understand all of the consequences of her actions right now.

Now that I've gotten a strategy in place, my panic has subsided, and I can focus on being there for her as she is right now. I understand now how parents and their (usually teenaged) children get caught up in this endless, exhausting cycle of lectures and silence because that's been us for the last two weeks. I knew she couldn't really hear me, but I couldn't stop myself from trying to get her to listen. I knew she couldn't give me thoughtful, coherent answers because she didn't understand herself, but I couldn't help myself from yearning and pleading with her to help me help her.

I still don't have confidence that this new strategy will guarantee results. To believe that would be foolish indeed. But at least it's something to try. At least it's something that gives me the guidance I need to focus both of us to that end goal. I'm no longer waking up with that tight feeling in my chest of hopelessness. I feel like myself again, and am ready to try, try again.


Missy June said...

Oh, April - hang in there. I am close to a 14 year old girl and it IS a hard age to 'manage.'

It's exhausting.


BigLittleWolf said...

If only there were a magic pill or a guidebook for every issue under the sun. Or an online app!

No such luck.

Putting away the panic and trying a reasonable strategy for - as you say - who she is right now - it's really as much as we can do.

Sending good thoughts. You know I've been there... and no doubt, will be again...