I had a fight with my teen today.
He wanted to do something that I didn’t want him to do.
He wanted me to back off and trust him to make the right decision.
I could see that he was not going to make the decision that I wanted him to make.
In that moment I was so caught up in my own fears that I did not trust him with his own life. I let him down.
He stormed out.
I worried about him all day. And fumed. And felt irritated that I had lost my cool.
In the heat of the argument, I felt so impotent.
It was like my arms were flailing, as I reached for whatever thing I could say to make him do what I thought was best. Frantic for his safety, I lost my perspective.
Usually at times such as these, I remind myself to put the good health of my relationship with my teen ahead of my pride, or of my getting my own way, but this time I abandoned all that for the sake of my fear that I wouldn’t have a child to have a relationship with.
So I lost my authority. I was so frightened by knowing that he has the power to determine his own life, that I panicked. I forgot that the very fact that I love him deeply, and am his mother, gives me influence; but only if I can conduct myself respectfully. Instead I felt powerless, like a child. And we fought like two children desperately trying to assert ourselves.
The way I spoke, my teen was unable to listen to me.
The way I tried to enforce my point of view, my teen was unable to heed me.
If I want my teen to allow me to influence him then:
I will treat my teen like he has the right to govern his own life, and is able to do so.
If I have advice, I will offer it respectfully.
If I need to make a stand, I will do it calmly and clearly.
It is that simple – and that hard.
Oh how our children call to us insisting that we grow up
In the end he did what he wanted to do: cycle into the village on a dangerous country lane to catch his bus this morning, with his helmet on but no lights or bike lock, and no plan for how he would get home after dark. He survived! He got home safely and tomorrow we’ll discover if his bike is still where he left it!