It takes a village to raise a child and being a parent is “on the job” training. The babies don’t come with instructional manuals and the picture perfect parenting books only tell half the story. A few days into the job of parenting and every parent understands the phrase “sleeping like a baby” is a myth and doctors have a checklist, beyond that it’s all about following your maternal instincts. It’s no surprise that all new moms rely on “mommy” groups to socialize and find sanity. The socializing calms the nerves and reassures that you are not alone. As a new mom, the only sanity check I had was my neighbor who reassured me that the colicky phase will end soon, no worries. Lo and behold it did end, however had it not been for her constantly reminding me and sharing narratives of her own parenting journey, I would have gone crazy.
As the kids grow older, life moves on, families move, kids start kinder and a phase of new friendships and mom support starts. The social element once again brings in sanity.
As the kids get older, bit by bit, these adult friendships and social support groups vanish. Why?
Why do we stop sharing the sob stories? Why do we only share the successes? These teens are the same kids who grew up together. They threw tantrums, argued, didn’t sleep on time, and we shared it all. We took cues from each other and found our solutions. Today when the kids are teenagers, we hide their sorrows, we exaggerate the happiness. What message are we sending to our kids?
Moms, again, these are the same kids. They are throwing tantrums. If we could share their tantrums at age 5, why can’t we share them at age 13,14.. and more? What happens to us? Why do we start judging the kids? So what if a calm boy starts jumping around, does that make him a bad kid? So what if a nerdy girl starts dating, does that make her a bad kid? The kids are going through hormonal changes, not us – right? Then why do we start behaving so differently?
Teenage is a roller coaster for both parents and kids and there is this preconceived idea that new moms need support and once the kids are older, the moms have figured it all out. No, that’s not true. As a parent of a teen and tween, I can assure you the teen years will be more isolated than the baby years.
When a baby cries, the world empathizes.
When a teen cries, the world stands, stares and turns away. Sad, but true.
It takes a village to raise a kid, it’s true. It is also true that the kids in this village watch the adults and learn from them. Let us show them the collaborative communication and not the silent communication. We need communication that allows a kid to be whoever they are. A tattoo, a failing grade, a heart break, a detention, a bully, a smirk and more… these are all fixable problems, if only we spoke to each other.
It is no secret that the greatest struggle between teens and parents is communication. Let us model positive communication so they can mimic it too. We can go on this journey together or alone. Either way, we will raise successful kids, however the latter will be a very lonely and tiring journey and the former will be filled with fun, laughter, picnics and maybe girls night outs too.
Which journey do you want to go on?