The toughest job of any parent

First term through and our wonderful teens are back in the nest for Christmas. I have to be careful; I find myself fussing about the nesting so much they obviously find the twigs a bit prickly and mother love too cloying. I can tell by the frantic texting!

But sometimes you just can’t help it. This is the way it is with parenthood. Where you are faced with the constant decisions on how to play it so they feel nurtured not suffocated, respected but still able to enjoy a little pampering, all done in such a way it’s not an insult to their independence.

We shimmy round each other keeping perspective on our mini conflicts. We’ve all grown independencies during absence and it can be a tricky not tripping over vintage rivalries.  Those familiar little warfares are back in the house over things like telly control, bathroom hierarchy and who’s eaten all the cheese. The dog no longer has to jostle with the cat for the hearth rug because our youngest has best place. And there’s those old negotiations over use of the car. But mostly it’s like it always was; an exchange of hugs and jokes and loving gestures, smiles and teasing and witty competition. Warmth that families do best.

The memories of their childhoods gush back over me like a flood when you’re caught without sandbags. And I have to stave off the desire to clasp them safe again, stuff them back in the womb of the household and get their legs zipped tightly back in a babygro!

But as a sensible and intelligent parent (if only…) I know my ultimate job is to get them to the point where that control and dependency is no longer needed. And this is where we’re at; facing the fact that they’re in charge of their own lives now and we’re confronted with the toughest job of all for any parent – acknowledging that they have the competency to be so and don’t need us to tell them how.

And also be humble enough to admit; it’s not only our growing young people who still need us; it’s as much the other way round!

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