Parent Hard Now

mom with little kids

I have a confession to make. I’m almost nervous to put it in writing because it feels a little like challenging the universe. I’m going to do it anyway.

We have enjoyed parenting our teenage kids. For our family, the teenage years have been pretty simple to navigate. So far, things seem to be going well. We’ve got a kid in college and a kid graduating from high school in May. And, as far as we can tell, both are happy and productive. Love this!

When I look back over my years as a mom, I believe I know one of the secrets to our success. We worked hard at parenting our littles. Doesn’t seem like much of an epiphany, does it?

Baby and toddler days can be exhausting. When I was the parent of a new baby and a three-year-old, it was challenging. I can remember wondering when I last took a shower. Some days it seemed like my goal was just to survive.

In the midst of play dates and sleepless nights, we parented. When my partner traveled for work, I parented by myself. We enforced rules and held boundaries. And it was hard! I’ve stepped over a kid throwing a fit many times, asking quietly, “Do you think this is going to get you what you want?”

Parenting requires time and energy and sacrifice. We made mistakes. I made mistakes! We kept working at it because it was important.

Therapist Ruth Han tells us that parenting ends at 13. We have about 13 years to teach our family morals and faith and beliefs. “Once they enter adolescence,” she says, “they begin their journey to become independent thinkers, which is what we want for them.” Independent thinkers may not agree with everything their mom says. As our kids become emerging adults, our job is to help them practice the skills we tried to teach.

Ms. Han has shared her ideas across social media platforms. The response is petty varied. Many agree with her thinking. Others have questions. Still others push back saying they are still parenting their adult children. Yikes!

Here’s the truth. I don’t want to be a hands-on parent for my adult kids. I want know that they have the skills to be successful on their own. I hope they are self-disciplined. I’ll be in their corner when times are tough and celebrate with them when they succeed.

So that’s my advice. Parent hard now. Spend the time. Mean what you say. Provide clear expectations. Leave a cart of groceries at the store when you need to.

Beth is mom to a high school sophomore and a first year college student. After fourteen years as a professional writer and editor, she earned graduate degrees in counseling and play therapy. Now she exercises her creativity as a school counselor. Beth loves reading, especially mysteries.