Teenagers want their parents around (but will never admit it)

I recently reduced the number of days I'm working from four to three.  I did this mostly for my kids so I could be around more in the afternoons.  I also wanted more time for myself so I had more energy for   the time that I do get to spend with them.

Even though my kids are now all at school and two of them quite independent high schoolers, I'm still feeling that they need their parents around just as much as ever.  When I look at other mums of teenagers, many are pursuing significant careers now that they don't have little ones.  So I've wrestled with these feeling of needing to be around.  Am I just too soft? Too maternal? (and just quietly, a bit pathetic?!)

But I'm more convinced than ever that it's important to be available as much as possible.  Mostly because you can't always predict when they might want to talk.

My 14 year old spent all the summer holidays with me, but it wasn't until the afternoon of the first day of school, that he starts to tell me that he's actually struggling with friendships a bit.  Frankly, I was pretty zonked from my first week back at work and it wasn't great timing for me.  But that's the kind of timing that you get dealt.  I couldn't exactly say 'why weren't we having this conversation during our relaxing month off?'.  He hadn't thought about it much until school went back.

I think it is the incidental interactions that help me relate to my kids better.  Driving them to stuff, cooking dinner and chatting, actually, just physically being in the house and available, willing to be interrupted.  There is a lot to talk about.  Test results, upcoming assignments, difficulties with friends, music concerts, new books from the library, netball training.

The time is flying past and I feel this stage of life just slipping through my fingers at an incredible speed. While it is totally crazy busy, in three years my eldest will be in his last year of school and my place in his life will have shifted a lot.  Exciting, challenging, tiring times, but precious and I'm reluctant to miss too much.


Ruth said…
I totally agree with the nature of kids sharing. They just find their own timing to say things don't they? Such a privilege to be available and listening when they do. Not something I always find easy.
Jean said…
So agree. I find that teenagers need my time, energy and attention just as much as the little ones. It's just a different kind of attention - more emotional than physical (and therefore exhausting in a completely different way) and happening at the oddest and most inconvenient times of the day and night (in that way, it's a return to the baby years ;) !). And even teenagers get sick, as I know too well, having a child with a chronic illness. You can't schedule these things, and they take time. Good on you for cutting back to make time for the people that matter, in the short years that you have with them, when they need you most.
Anonymous said…
That rocks. Spot on!
Jane Lister said…
Gutsy move, Jenny. Good on you :)
My dear Mum always said the concept of "quality time" was complete nonsense. (And she had 5 of us, so maybe knew a bit of stuff by the end!) She believed that to expect kids to open up to us in the 2 hours we have allocated them each week, just doesn't happen. It's all about the quantity of time, being there when they want to talk...hopefully...

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