So, how’s that back-to-school thing going?

We’ve had a few bumps here, but what can you expect when transitioning from beachy days, late nights and a slow summer pace to notebooks, schedule conflicts, looming homework, etc.?

With two kids in middle school (how the heck did that happen?), our entire family is in transition. I can’t count how many times I’ve begun to say, “my young kids,” or “my little girl,” then caught myself and dropped the reference to the little kids I no longer have. I see the elementary school bus roll by our house in the morning, and it doesn’t stop. (On purpose this time, as opposed to the numerous times in the past when the driver simply forgot.) Nobody here rides it. It’s a new stage of life for our family, and adjustments are required.

I love my kids at thirteen and ten. But though I no longer panic about parenting like I did when they were infants, I still puzzle over certain, more nuanced questions regarding what I’m supposed to do with these growing people. Offer advice on the problem I see coming, or let things play out on their own? Scold and correct on a particular misbehavior, or decide it’s not a big deal and let it go so that my words have more effect when something more important comes along? Give something that’s been requested, or make them work for it? Help or butt out? Yes, there are guidelines that can help—I wrote about a few of them a couple of weeks ago—but it’s still a challenge every day.

That’s why I want to share with you some wise words I found elsewhere on the web, at Club Mid at Scary Mommy. “How to Ruin Your Relationship with Your Teenager,” written by Michelle Lehnardt, offers some valuable wisdom for any parent looking for guidance and goalposts on raising a teen. I emailed it to myself, printed it out and placed it next to my desk as a reference, and I want to make sure you see it, too. For example, here is point 1:

1. Not Listening

Years ago, I heard invaluable advice: “Once your child reaches the age of 13 or 14 they know your opinion of everything under the sun. Your job from now on is to shut up and listen.” I remember feeling a bit defensive the first time I heard this counsel. I had so much knowledge yet to share! And besides, things change—how would I offer my wisdom on future problems? But there’s the crux of it all. Things change. As adults, we think we know all about the teenage world, but our swiftly moving planet has spun beyond our intimate knowledge of the ’70s’80s’90s. And here’s what I’ve learned: when you take the time to listen, truly listen, your kids will ask your opinion.

To read the rest of this article by Michelle Lehnardt, click here to go to Club Mid at Scary Mommy.


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