Yesterday, we went to the fair. Military get in free here. What a treat since we have no money. Our son came with us only because I told him that he could take the day off. He was a good sport. The poor kid had to look at the arts and crafts hall with his mother. He must have really wanted a day off from Algebra.
I felt bad for him. It was FFA day at the fair, so it was swarming with teenagers. He said nothing, but I could tell that he felt awkward walking around with his parents. I think he would have been fine had he been the only teen at the fair. Instead he had to walk past tons of teen girls. Poor kid.
I always thought I was doing something wrong with my other two when they started complaining about coming along on day trips with us. We would bribe them with food, but they would remain grumpy. Finally, we would just let them stay home, but I felt guilty. I was a homeschool mom fail. Why didn’t my kids want to hang out with me?
I wish someone would have smacked me upside the head. Really? Why doesn’t your 16 year old son want to hang out with his mother? Give me a break.
Your teenager is trying to develop their identity away from you. Do you remember how challenging it was being a teenager? Trying to figure yourself out amongst the masses? Homeschooling is great for teens because they get to figure out who they are without the peer, pack mentality that permeates the school setting. But just because you have removed that from the equation doesn’t mean they still don’t need to figure out who they are.
Some things that you can do to give your teen space.
- Respect their need for privacy.
Your teen is probably going to spend more time in their room. So what? I did. You probably did too. As long as you don’t notice any signs of depression, let them be.
2. Don’t chaperone their activities.
They are with you ALL the time. Let them have a little time to be themselves without you hanging over them. Youth group trips? Don’t go. Many times I have had to explain why I will not chaperone trips. People usually respect my decision once they understand my reasoning. A day at the fair with friends? They are fine. Don’t hover. It is no longer necessary for you to watch their classes or practices. They have coaches and instructors for that. If there is a problem, they will tell you. Or they won’t. Let that be their decision.
3. Let them figure it out.
Maybe they want your advice about trouble they are having with a friend or maybe they don’t. They need to figure it out. Be available. My kids would tend to talk to me when we were in the car alone. We would ride along for miles in uncomfortable silence until all of a sudden they would drop a bomb on me. I would offer advice, but ultimately, try to let them figure out what to do. It would take everything I had not to step in and fix the problem. I have friends who read this blog that know my pain. How often did I unload on you guys? When my daughter was working she had all kinds of situations that she needed to grapple with. We offered advice, and then let her handle it. Don’t get me wrong. It was tough. I talk like a pro here, but I basically stink at all of this.
4. Don’t make them go if they don’t want to go.
Walking around the forest with you isn’t their idea of fun anymore, so what? Have you failed as a parent? I thought that I had. I should have chilled out. Come to find out that they still needed me, but they didn’t want to hang out with me. I guess I am not as cool as I thought I was. Sometimes they wanted to go to the movies with us, and sometimes they didn’t. Don’t make it an issue. I promise your time will be more enjoyable if they want to be there with you. The times that it was their decision to hang out with me were so fun! They really are fun to be around if you catch them at the right time.
I really felt the need to write this. Homeschooling teenagers is a beast. It is different than homeschooling your littles, and I think that we want it to be similar. All family bonding all the time. Well, I wanted that anyway. Maybe you have it together more than I did. Relax and chill out. Remember that you are trying to end this parenting business. Give them some space. They will thank you later.