Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Becoming Their Own Persons

I have a dirty little secret: My children, now 10 and a half and almost 13, no longer want to go exploring with me. At least not very often. The little darlings who were my inspiration and excuse to discover the trails less traveled are now putting their collective feet down and saying they’d rather stay home and do their own thing, thank you very much.

At this age, Dana and Colin can stay home alone. But it’s surprisingly lonely for us parents to be out and about without sharing their wide-eyed perspective and excitement.

As childhood progresses into adolescence, our parental role shifts from a benign dictatorship to an authoritative democracy. Gone are the days when my husband and I would decide what the family would be doing, strap the kids in the car seats and go. Just like when we were parenting toddlers, we’re learning to pick our battles, saving the “you have to go” commands for the times when it really matters.

We’re also learning to negotiate. And good negotiation means listening to what the other person is saying. Dana likes shopping, especially for clothes, accessories, and books. Colin likes computers, movies and video games. I’m learning to respect their preferences as part of the overall wonderful young people they’re becoming, even if they’re not the same as mine.

So we work on compromising: If they’ll willingly go on a National Seashore hike, we’ll stop at the bookstore or rent a new movie on the way home.

They’re just doing their job, after all. Adolescence is the slow process of becoming not you.

1 comment:

Sandy said...

"Surprisingly lonely"... oh! I can imagine.

So much of my own delight in excursions with my little girls comes from their experiences. I wonder what it'll be like when they want me to drop them at the mall and pick them up when I'm done at the beach? Sniffle!