Later Stages of Parenting

  The other day, a mother commented, “I have a son in his 40’s. There’s a lot of discussion about the stages of parenting up to college, but you never hear about the stages after. I find that there are a LOT of stages of parenting that come later — and they are important stages, really good stages, for the parent.” I love this idea. Watching my parenting slowly shift from full focus on the child (infancy) -> expanding focus to ¬†include parental needs/desires (middle school) -> focus on modeling what an adult looks like in the world, and switching from co-creator to guide (high school and beyond) inspires me to wonder: what next? What are those later stages? Have you felt them? Lately, I have been watching myself as my kids left for college and I continue here on my own. The “Empty Nest Syndrome” is a topic for another blog post (or two or two hundred) and it has been quite an experience. One of the things I think about is how do I want to parent now? When my kids come back for vacation, what’s my role? What do I want my role to be? What kind of relationship do I want to create with my kids? If I don’t call them ‘kids,’ and ‘my young adults’ doesn’t sound right at all, I guess I get to call them by their names. I guess they aren’t ‘my kids’ anymore — they are...
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They’re on their phone again! I hate that!!

I hear this a LOT. I also hear, “they’re always checking their email, and texting – it’s like I’m not even there!” Does this sound familiar to you? Well, guess what? These are teens talking about their parents. Kids who want to connect, talk in the car, hang out in silence next to their parents. But parents are checking email, picking up the call mid-sentence with a kid, texting at stoplights. These are kids who will be leaving the house in the next few years, and they are hungering for connection now. I invite you to step up and talk with intimate others about what boundaries around phones/screens work for you all. This is a perfect opportunity to: ¬†identify and share your own values and desires around screens/phones model what effective parental leadership looks like ¬†problem solve with kids about solutions – one to try for a week, and then try another, and work with the one that fits best have some fun! THe family can play around with ideas such as: texting your ‘texting teen’ when you want to connect and they’re sitting right there: “hey, want to do something fun?!” at meals, stack all phones in the middle of the table put all electronics to sleep at night at the same time (eek, not my ipad?!?) do something so fun together that phones/screens become irrelevant (roller coaster ride?) everyone take the day off together, and go on an electricity-free picnic and outing What works for your...
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HMD

  To those who have shown kindness and firmness — placing others’ needs in front of their own — and have followed through, modeling strength and elegance, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Now go put your feet...
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Leo Babauta on resiliency and modeling

Leo Babauta authors a great blog, Zen Habits. It’s one of the handful of blogs that I subscribe to, and, yes, actually read every entry. His latest post, 9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn, is worth reading. Letting kids solve challenges on their own, showing resiliency and acceptance in our own lives, being comfortable with an unknown future — good stuff! Check it...
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Expectations

I thought I had a handle on expectations. I am pretty good at going with the flow and getting behind my kids to let them lead their own way on THEIR path. I even acknowledge that I am kind of tough on myself with the expectations I have for myself. All going normally; I thought I was doing okay. I was wrong. The holidays have really thwacked me this year around expectations. I’ve had to really think this through, and for me, it’s not the expectations of having a “perfect” holiday, but something far more insidious. I have an unyielding expectation that I must create good memories about this holiday. My kids are late teens, and I can feel the change coming. For me, that means that I must store as many good memories away as I can, stockpiling them for the future. I notice that I am ruthless with myself when there’s a wrinkle, while my heart opens up when there’s a moment of shared laughter. My expectations are sign posts letting me know that I am scared and want to protect, defend, and conserve — so it’s time for me to move toward relaxing more, embracing more, and softening. Happiest of New Year’s to...
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