In the teenage years, one of the more challenging things both the young and their parents face is the fact that it’s always been up to us — the individual.
Sure, parents can help with their children’s homework when young but it’s always been the kids that are ultimately responsible for the work. When they get to high school, the long term stakes at hand and the lack of ability of parents to help with the work make who owns that responsibility and any resulting consequences very clear.
Parents can help their kids navigate friendships and relationships when they are in grade school. Parents can provide council and guidance in a playground dispute or when it comes time to share the ball. By the time they reach adolescence and face their first friendship fall-out or heartbreak, parents find out there’s little they can do to “fix” it. Advice and solace is all we can provide. It’s up to the kids to fix it.
We can tell our kids about the paths ahead and what to expect along the way of each but they are the ones that have to choose which road to take. They are the only ones who can walk it. All a parent can do is sit back and watch.
It’s humbling and difficult for parents to face that not only can’t they fix the lazy attitude that results in the bad grade or the breakdown of a formerly solid friendship for their kids. But, that they never really could. The days when they were making the kid sit at the desk until the homework was done, it was still dependent on the kid doing the work (even under threat of punishment). When the kid came off the playground crying because their best friend decided to play with someone else, even if we consoled them and helped them find someone else to play with, it’s always the kid who had to get over it and do the playing.
The truth is we’ve always been the ones in control from our earliest years. Our parents never were. Though we didn’t drive, we’ve always been in the driver’s seat of our lives. And, at a certain point — often in our teenage years — we come to understand that our lives have always been driven by our choices, actions, consequences, and results. That eventually no one — not even our parents - can save us.
It’s up to you today just as it always has been.