When we bring our children home from the hospital, the big joke that everyone makes is: “They don’t come with a handbook!”
But, in all honesty, there are handbooks for how to raise babies into children. There’s lots of information out there in books and online about parenting young children.
Frankly, when parents really need a handbook is when our children become teenagers. When they are not quite adults yet, not still children, but in that limbo on the precipice of adulthood.
This is when it’s truly hard for us to define our role as parents. Do we hover? Do we pull back? When is the appropriate time to intervene? Are we too involved? Are we not involved enough?
When I tell people that I am raising two teenage girls, I usually get a knowing eye roll or a heavy sigh followed by a: “God bless you...”
Every time one of my daughters comes to me with a dilemma, my response is the same: “I’m not sure what to do. I’ve never raised a teenager before.”
I’m sure going through a lot of things with my older daughter will help lead me in my parenting of my younger daughter. Yet, at 14, the younger one is already dealing with issues that her sister didn't face until much later.
My new go-to is to consult with other parents of teenagers or parents who have already raised teenagers. While I may not take everyone’s advice, it definitely helps to hear about others’ experiences and how they dealt with certain situations. No single parenting style fits all families, but there are elements we can learn from each other to help us navigate the journey.
There’s no doubt about it: We are all going to make mistakes in how we parent. We are not perfect. But if we come from a place of love, hopefully, we will do more right things than wrong things. If I ever write the handbook, that’s definitely going to be the ending!
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books, including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.