Their Timing; My Terms

What I am learning on this journey of parenting is that parenting teens takes a whole new level of thinking. DUH. It’s like when your child starts to walk, you see your home or stores you shop at in a whole new way. A potential grab and break-fest of sorts. When your children are grade school age and you decide to have a movie night and show “The Bad News Bears” or “Grease” only to realize the language and content is nothing like you remember and your 12 year old says, “MOM! This is so inappropriate for us to watch!” (Seriously how did I NOT remember all the sexual innuendos in Grease?) Perhaps you should be screening these videos prior to popping them in. That saying you never realize how foul the language is in a song or movie until you watch/listen to it with a child, is a saying for a reason.

So with our newest teen we are navigating the waters of connection, timing and adaptation all at the same time. Biologically she’s at an age where she is designed to start pulling away. A fellow adoptive momma wrote this wonderful post regarding connecting with your teen – which is great whether you’ve adopted or not.

Ryan and I have been talking about trying to figure out how to best deal with our tween and teen. What I have learned in the last 10 weeks is that you can’t approach discipline and discussion in the same way you do with elementary aged kids. My younger two need direction, discussion and consequences immediately. Otherwise the window is gone and they have a short memory. Now you might say double duh at this point, but forgive me, I’m new. What I’ve come to realize is that my older two need for me to give them space, direct them to somewhere quiet (or them taking some space and time) then checking in and laying out what needs to happen & what the consequences will be and then the ball is in their court. Their timing, my terms. Once ready they can come to me and calmly discuss whatever it is we need to discuss. I lay out my terms. Period. They don’t have to like them, but they need to follow and respect those terms as a member of this family. What I have found is that if it’s on their timing, my terms are met. It doesn’t take a psychologist to realize they (and I) are calmer & more receptive. It gives me time to be mindful and succinct in what I want to say. Lectures need not apply. Does that mean we solve all of our issues quickly, no, definitely not. But they get solved, eventually. This also isn’t to be confused with hiding in your room without resolving the issue completely. I think it is doing wonders with our newest, providing some much needed conflict resolution skills that she’s never developed or learned.

Why is this difficult? Because for the last 12 years of parenting its been discipline in the moment. Right now our house is divided so switching gears, even in the middle of an altercation is necessary if it involves older versus younger siblings. Old habits die hard, I’ve become comfortable in this role of deal and fix it now, instead of giving space. It’s hard to take all that motherhood experience and put some of the volumes up on the shelf next to Breastfeeding and Biting Toddlers. Change is never easy, parenting is never easy, just when you’ve got it, BAM! all the rules change. I imagine the rules will continue to change as we walk this path with teens.

So for now my new motherhood slogan is: THEIR TIMING; MY TERMS – watch for the book and TLC show. I think I’m on to something…for today.



shannon - January 27, 2014 - 5:54 pm

I understand. People with very young children think if you have children over the age of 10 that the kids are grown. That your children help you do everything and make your life so much easier. One day they will understand that this is not at all the case. I had a parent tell me once “things only get harder”, as I stressed about what time to give up the bottle. Life is a lot easier when their whole world is in an arms reach of you and you do everything for them.

Erni - January 28, 2014 - 9:44 am

Good for you for recognizing that there is a needed shift from immediate parenting, Drew and Penny, to tween/teenage parenting with Jon and Meseret. I remember that shift so well, even though it is now ages ago. What a shock it was, but what a great opportunity to teach what independence means while restrictions are still in place. I remember a lot of discussing points of contention with negotiating/compromising going on up to certain boundary lines, which were always firm. “Their timing/My Terms” – love it.

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