The baby of the family is no longer the baby. He just turned 13. A teenager! I know just what to give him for his Birthday…more responsibilities! He may not appreciate it now, but we don’t have much time before he launches. He’ll thank me later. Maybe.
Transitioning to the Teen years comes with added responsibilities and changes for everyone!
When my son woke up on his 13th Birthday, I asked him how it felt to be 13. His answer, “no different.” I’m going to make sure he feels the difference and real quick!
Every birthday comes with a new set of responsibilities. I grabbed my purple binder which my kiddos recognize as our Household Management Binder. Within the pages of this binder sits a handy dandy list of responsbilities. It’s broke down by age, beginning at 3 and ending at 18.
I break this document out every birthday now. We assess the responsibilities they were to master the prior year and read them their list for the new year. They act like it’s a bother, but they secretly like it. It’s affirming to list the things they have accomplished and somewhat exciting to hear what challenges lie ahead.
I found this list on the web when my oldest was about six years old. It became a yearly tradition. It comes from “Teaching Your Children to Fly” by Merrilee Boyack. I’ve adapted her list to fit with my family’s traditions and beliefs. Click here for a free download of The Plan
I’m far more excited about this year than he is. Cooking and grocery shopping are on the list for 13 year olds! Yes please!!!
My Job Description Changes Too!
John Rosemond, author of “Teen Proofing” calls this new stage the transition from authority to mentor. He describes it like this, “…during the time when he/she is functioning primarily as a teacher/authority figure, a parent says (to the child), “I’m going to set limits on your freedom.”
A mentor, on the other hand, says (to himself), “I’m going to help my child take control of his own life and learn the relationship between responsibility and freedom.”
Can I just say, this is super super hard to do! It’s all of the little things that we as mamas do in auto pilot mode. We have to STOP DOING these things during this phase.
For example: my previous job required me to command my child to eat ALL of his dinner, bring his laundry out for ME to do, and reminding him to fill his water bottle when we leave the house.
But, the new job description requires me to stop initiating the lessons. I have wait for golden opportunities to help him learn and make connections between cause and effect. In other words, I have to allow him space. Space to choose not to eat, run out of clean clothes, and forget his water. These are the golden opportunities to offer guidance, but gets him in the driver seat of his own life.
Focus on the Family calls this phase of parenting: “Coach.”
In their article The Four Phases of Parenting they make the distinction between “dictating” to “clarifying.”
That helped me to understand how I need to change my approach.
What Parenting Phase are You in?
Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out and a good flow going, they have a birthday. And everything changes!
That’s alright. The pain of cutting those apron strings is real. The salve for that pain comes when I get to watch the man emerge and take flight. My 19 and 17 year old are already blowing my mind. I keep thinking, “God must really love me!” Because he is allowing me to witness this process not once, not twice, but three times.”
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