The Major Difference Between Raising Little Ones and Raising Teens

Years ago, when J was just a toddler, I was gleaning wisdom from a woman in our church who had 7 children, but only had 2 left at home. Here I was with a preschooler and a toddler, balancing work and raising little ones – and little ones who required a  bit more parenting than some – wondering whether it got easier.

And she told me, “they need you more as they get older.”

Really?

And here I am now, realizing that oh that is so true.

Special time with Kgirl

Yes, Kgirl no longer has meltdowns over too many people, or how her shirt or shoes rub, nor does she change clothes 13 times a day like she did when she was 3.

Now she does most of her schoolwork on her own, she can completely handle any task in running this household, if I asked her, and often if I don’t.

She can knit, and sew, and cook. She helps me publish our homeschool group’s monthly newsletter, and can put together a website using WordPress with very little help anymore.

She’s quickly become a very skilled young lady.

But, she still needs me to be there for her.  As does J.

The need is different. When the kids were little they needed more physical energy from us – raising little ones is very physical work.

But as they grow older and are able to do so much more on their own, they need much more intellectual and emotional energy from us – and time. Fully engaged time.

Now, they have questions and comments that require more thoughtful and thought-provoking answers.  It’s no longer about facts and figures – they look that up themselves.

Now instead it’s conversations about other conversations, happenings, politics, spirituality, opinions, culture, books, TV, and movies. It’s discussions about plans and possibilities, and faith. It’s about what they are thinking about, about moving on to adult, and about memories and understanding the context of those memories.

The kids will – and should – own their own opinions and thoughts, and beliefs. But it is through their questions, our discussions, and their own ponderings and observations that they form their opinions and beliefs.

I love having these conversations with my kids – to learn what they are thinking, and how they are thinking. It’s not necessarily a time to correct them but rather to explain a nuance or my position, or even just to be quiet and listen, and to ask a question that allows them to ponder further.

Granted my kids prefer to have these conversations late, at the end of the day when the Youngers are already in bed, and that makes for some very late nights. But the time is important. I won’t ever be able to get back the time with them. I’ll never have the opportunity to have these conversations and discussions again.

One day, in the not so very  distant future, they will be off, consumed with their own worlds. Now, it is their time to explore who they are and where they fit, and what they think of the world. I am so glad that I’m able to be part of that.

 

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One Response to The Major Difference Between Raising Little Ones and Raising Teens

  1. Dee says:

    I have a near 12 year old, a two year old (and two in between) and find this to be so true! There seems to be an assumption that when children become teens, they become completely independent and no longer *need* their families, but my husband and I both feel that the teen years where the time we needed our parents the most.

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