Last week, I wrote about some of the lessons I learned since becoming a parent. There was definitely a steep learning curve during the first decade-and-a-half. My children are now young adults, and the learning hasn't stopped.
- Teenagers are just as different as young children. What worked to motivate one child does not necessarily motivate another.
- Bribes can work, especially big ones. You really want to go to film camp? Sure, just make sure there are no more missing grades or zeros for assignments in your classes. Voila, better grades! (I should also add that said child lobbied hard for this camp, stating it would help him decide what to pursue in college--good argument.)
- On the subject of arguing...there will be some, no doubt. It helps to remind adolescents that we are all on the same side--the side of growth and health and happiness for all involved.
- Lack of participation in household chores at home does not necessarily lead to inability to do so when teens are on their own. I stepped up once I was in my own place, and my firstborn did, too. In fact, she does more cleaning now when she is home than she did as a teen!
- How your child acts at home may be completely different than how they act in public. This can be a good thing! Standing back and watching my children interact with others in school and abroad has given me a greater sense of who they are as a whole person, separate from their roles in our family--I see friendly, polite, positive, cooperative young adults. It gives me perspective when dealing with the previous two bullet points.
- It is so gratifying to watch your children form tight friendships with other positive-minded people. Knowing they are building a social safety net eases my mind.
- Saying "I love you" and giving hugs is still a thing in young adulthood--even though the youngest has to bend down for me to kiss the top of his curly head.
- Conversations at the dinner table have become so much more intellectual and humorous!
- College debt is a given, or at least it is for us. I just accept that and move on. It stresses out our recent college grad, and I am reassuring her weekly that it will be paid off eventually, and we'll make sure she doesn't starve or end up homeless in the process.
- Young adults will continue to surprise you, and often in positive ways. I am amazed that my introverted, homebody son wants to spend a week with complete strangers in NYC to figure out his future goals. Our college grad is heading back to Japan once again, this time for a paying job that will last one to two years. Their courage and focus is inspiring!
I hope that parents of young children who read this will feel better about dealing with the upcoming teen years. This stage can bring so much growth for all involved! I am excited to see what the future holds for my young adults--and for me and my husband, as we navigate through this new phase in our family.