My daughter turns 13 on Monday. Until now I have been pretty confident in my parenting, but we are entering a foreign world now.
As babies I needed to feed them, comfort them, protect them. As toddlers I needed to watch over them, teach them, hug them. As students I needed to help them, guide them, lead them. But a teenager is a whole different ballgame.
These stages up until now have been pretty predictable. Each of my girls have had slightly different needs as they were growing up, but in general I knew what to expect and for the most part they were pretty clear what they needed. If I wasn’t meeting their needs they let me know.
But teenagers are different. As she strives to become her own person she will start pulling away from me. She may not come to me when she has a problem. She may turn more toward her friends. I’ve already seen shadows of this happening.
I’m hoping to explore this foreign land with more excitement than fear, however I can’t help but worry some. Recent events such as the upsurge in school shootings, the extensive use of drugs and alcohol even among middle schoolers, and the staggering number of teen suicides certainly give me cause for concern. I’m not going to sit back and think it can’t happen to my daughter. It can happen to anyone’s. I know this.
Bad things happen to good kids.
I feel that I’ve spent the last 13 years preparing her well. She is independent and strong enough not to follow the crowd. She understands the consequences of drug use, smoking, alcohol and sex. She knows her self-worth, and realizes her value is more in the person she is than in how she looks or what others think of her. She is not afraid of strangers, but she is aware there are dangerous people out there and knows to pay attention to what is going on around her.
As she becomes her own person I will get to know more of her ideas and opinions. She will begin interacting with the world in a new way, and hopefully help change things for the better. She is smart and courageous, and I honestly believe that as she grows into a teenager she will search for opportunities to take on more responsibilities and participate in her community.
She has watched my transformation over the past few years. I know she’s learning that people can choose who they want to be. She’s seen me choose. She’s even commented on it, although not in those words. I hope that she chooses to follow my example and determine her own path. I am excited to get to know the person she is becoming.
This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Foreign
Photo by Daniel H. Tong on Unsplash