So what do you do when you’re teenager gets to the point where they think they are ready to behave in an adult manner, but you know emotionally they are not ready for the responsibilities and consequences that come with being an adult?
I recently faced the difficulty with my 13-year-old daughter, who after being grounded decided she was just going to up and walk out without anyone knowing. Unfortunately it came at an inconvenient time when I was in hospital and powerless to do anything about it other than phone around in tears begging people to go and look for her….In my mind she was missing and anything could happen to her, perhaps I would never see her again?
Luckily it all turned out okay, my dad and my brother managed to find her within a couple of hours, though I can not tell you enough how long those two hours felt….like a lifetime! My blood pressure had rocketed and all I wanted to do was come home and find her – even against medical advice…though I was persuaded to wait a bit longer and in the end remained in hospital.
When I arrived home….I was still upset, hurting and angry with her for doing what she did…regardless of the relief I felt to have her home safe and sound. I knew I should stay calm, but when I eventually called her down to talk to her, I still lost the plot and ended up shouting and crying, telling her what she had put me through. Luckily I have a very good friend who has known my daughter her whole life, who was able to sit and talk to her with me a bit later, in a calmer environment and explain more rationally why we were so scared for her…
We talked about all the dangers that were out there that she herself could not predict…she had been hanging around with 17-19 year old boys, we asked her why she thought boys that age would want to hang out with a 13-year-old girl…of course as adults we can see that there are ulterior motives, but as a 13-year-old she was unable to recognise that…we also talked about how town was very different after dark when the shops closed and all her friends had gone home safely. We talked about lots of things and since then this week has been a good week….we have spent lots of quality time together trying to rebuild some trust back.
I know so many parents are not so fortunate as to have a good support network or have teenagers that do not come home or refuse to listen to rules and boundaries…I can’t sympathise enough and can only consider myself lucky to have made it through this blip in the road. My only wish is for you all to find peace and resolution with your children.
It sometimes seems we can not do the right thing, that there is no right way or wrong way, no answers….if we get tough they rebel, if we give them the freedom they walk all over it….it’s hard to find middle ground with a teenager who just wants to do their own thing, they are too young to understand balance, middle ground and compromise. It seems all we can do is guide them in the right direction, explain the dangers of life as much as we can, and then cross our fingers and hope for the best. We can also let them know that no matter what they have done we will always love them and be there for them, and if they ever need us they can call us even if they think we will be angry, we will be there.
We worry about smoking, drugs, alcohol, teenage pregnancies, abductions – among all the other dangers out there that our children are either unaware of or feel they are invincible against…..
I hope all your teenagers are warm, safe and sound and that you know where they are…and if they are not, if you do not, then I hope they come home soon, I know you all love and care for your children, no matter how young or how old they are and no matter what they have done….I pray every lost child will pick up the phone today and phone someone who can help them….