Thoughts on Parenting Adolescents

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter did not pass her behind-the-wheel driver's test. I felt so sad for her, particularly as I looked over and saw tears in her eyes. Immediately, I wanted to inspire her to "take the bull by the horns" and to find out what she needed to do to schedule another test. My daughter quietly objected to going back inside the DMV to find out the next steps. But, I persisted. I was eager to have her triumph over this stumbling block. She needed space to deal with her feelings and any doubts that were creeping in her mind. She told me that she maybe she would just wait until she's 18 to take the test. I disagreed with that solution and began talking about the propensity to avoid when things got hard for her. Wrong timing! Eventually, I caught myself and thought it would be better to drop the subject. In retrospect, I believe that in my efforts to be supportive that I was coming off as pushy. Taking a step back, I see that it was my eagerness to see her overcome fear, doubt and sadness. I wanted her to feel stronger and to know that she was more than this experience of failing a test. What I missed was being with her in the midst of the tenderness and vulnerability that she was experiencing. I skipped passed that and moved into problem-solving mode. I was intrigued because this was not my usual stance. What was going on with me? Maybe it would be helpful to look at my own experiences of tenderness and vulnerability. Had I been patient with myself? Had I allowed myself to feel afraid or doubtful or sad?

As parents, we want to support our teens and we want to teach them. It is also important to allow them to move at their own pace. Our teens are developing their abilities to make their own decisions. Their choices are not always going to be our choices for them and their timing is not our timing. That's okay. Case in point, after a few days my daughter was studying for her driver's test, and asked when she could reschedule the test. I learned a valuable lesson here about patience. I hope that this can be helpful to you in some way.