Parenting Teens

How does it feel?

“So how does it feel to have an 18 year old?”
My phone beeped signalling someone had sent me a message through Facebook. It was a simple question, arriving the day after my kid turned 18. How does it feel? Does my answer vary depending on who asks the question? In this case, it is a mother whose own child is about to turn 16. Perhaps she is looking for some insights. Perhaps she is hoping for some assurances that we are not getting old. Perhaps she is just smiling at knowing that a child she has come to know and love is crossing the threshold into adulthood.

How does it feel? Moments later, my phone beeps again. This time it is that 18 year old texting me. Our exchange mimics the playfulness of the past quoting a song we sang when on a trip years ago. Then comes the real reason for texting: “Would you be amazing and come pick me up?” Apparently 18 year olds still need parents to be their chauffeurs.

How does it feel? The continued beeping of my phone seems to be in stark contrast with my own experiences being of 18. If we needed a ride, it was arranged ahead of time or we had to find a phone and hope someone would pick up on the other end. Things are very different today than when I was a teenager and yet, as a parent, I need to help my child navigate safely through these waters. My child turning 18 hasn’t diminished my role. There is still much I know I will need to do in the years to come.

How does it feel? Parenting in 2018 can feel overwhelming, crazy-making, and satisfying all in the same moment. There is so much to consider, so much we should know, so much that continues to surprise and puzzle. There should be a new manual written. Perhaps we can google something or, better yet, maybe we can come together as families to share stories, provide support and build a new kind of community. This is the hope of Thrive! A living manual for families, a new ministry project for youth and families in Essex County and beyond.

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