My daughter has taught me more about myself than probably any single person in my life. She has also taught me the true importance of what it means to pass on what you learn to the next generation so that the mistakes of the past do not repeat themselves. I understand that some of those lessons we try to pass on to our children go without much consideration. Adolescents have a tendency to want to learn things the hard way and think that they know more than we do. I guess that it is normal and to some degree I know I thought that way as well and then we become adults and parents ourselves and realize how wrong we have been. I believe the ultimate goal is for each generation to get better and I believe that my brother and I have accomplished that. The hope is that our children will be even more successful than us and improve each generation there after.
I am a divorced mother of one daughter. My daughter currently lives with me full time and is 17. In review of my parenting over the past few years I can honestly say that I have made a few mistakes. I should have handled some things differently…better. Overall, I think sometimes I am too easy on her, but if you ask her, she will say I am too hard. I am definitely easier on her than my parents were with me. I understand that there comes a point as a mother when I will just have to hope that I have taught her everything she needs to know, and just let her go. I will have to back off and simply let her figure things out for herself. I hope that she maintains the work ethic, morals, values and character that I have tried to instill in her.
I am usually most frustrated with my daughter when she doesn’t follow the rules of the house, fails to do her chores, makes a bad grade because she isn’t trying, or when she is disrespectful. My house rules and her required chores have been the same for years and she should know them very well by now. As far as grades go, as long as she is trying her best and doing all the required homework and tests, I am satisfied. Having good manners and being respectful is something I require because it will benefit her for the rest of her life. I have helped and supported my daughter through many things from buying her first violin for orchestra, applying for her first job, to buying her first car. I want to help my daughter succeed in every way possible and live life to the fullest, like all parents do. Why do we want our kids to grow up too fast? We already know that they want to grow up fast, but why do we encourage it? Is growing up, being successful and independent something that should be done as soon as possible? Why?
I ask these questions from a mother and counseling perspective. In some countries parents allow their children to live at home for years after high school and they travel, take on many jobs, go to school for a bit and just experiment with life before committing to one person, one career and moving out on their own. In the US we are more likely to push our children to do more and be more earlier in life. Sometimes I wonder if my daughter is missing out on the chance to really enjoy her teen years. She is already working and taking college classes before she even graduates high school. I try to talk to her and explain to her the importance of balance. Balance is something that, for me, equals sanity.
Balance is important for adolescents and adults to learn. We can reach burn-out at any age, but I believe that the early push for our kids to be and do more as quickly as possible can cause more harm than good. My daughter is wrapping up her junior year of high school and is already feeling the pressure of deciding what college to attend, what she will study to be and what career she wants to pursue. That is a lot to consider at 17! So as her mother I tell her, have a game plan, but don’t let your life depend on it. Her interests, morals, values, and thoughts, feelings and ideas about the world around her will be developing, growing and changing constantly for the next 6-8 years. By about 25 years old most people begin to stabilize and have an idea of who they are, where they stand and what they want to do with their life. So I have encouraged my daughter to travel, study and work with the goal to learn about the world and about herself, but do not settle in to any particular roles right away.
Motherhood is about hoping to do better than your mom did, but realizing you still will make your own mistakes. Motherhood is about loving someone so much and understanding that part of that love means eventually letting go. Motherhood is about guiding and teaching, but also about being able to listen and learn. Motherhood is realizing you can learn just as much from them as they can from you. Motherhood is knowing what boundaries to set for them and yourself. Motherhood is not just about telling, but setting a good example and showing them by how you live your life. Motherhood is being able to stay consistent and discipline them when they are wrong and saying you are sorry when you are wrong. Motherhood is understanding and letting them know, that just because they may leave your home, they will never leave your heart.
To happiness, health, balance, and mothers of all ages