It’s been 13 years since Shropshire Family Information Service was first launched and to celebrate us becoming a teenager we are delighted to share this truly lovely story of being the Dad to teenagers, and how growing up happens a little too quickly. This is Phil’s story on Letting Go.
I’m the parent of two teenage sons. Next year I won’t be as one will be 20. I will have a 20 year old and an 18 year old. When did that happen?
When you decide to have kids, let’s face it, you have no idea what you are about to take on. Helping them to walk and talk, the sleepless nights, the grazed knees and illnesses, the birthday party manicness or the financial side of increasing the world’s population, and many other things including the good times, days out and holidays. You are responsible for the upbringing and safeguarding of that child until they become an adult.
So when is that time exactly; becoming an adult – 14, 16, 18, 21? All of these and, in some ways, none of them. Kids change physically and emotionally, maturing at different times. Arbitrary ages don’t directly make them more mature, but the entitlements they get at these ages bring extra responsibilities for the young adult and for you as parents too.
The challenges and rewards that come with being a parent of teenagers is just the next step of parenthood. They achieve well or less so; you share the reward and/or disappointment too. Once your baby always your baby. The stakes are just bigger that’s all. For instance, your child’s nursery is probably down the road; their university could be 300 miles away. And whilst it can be tough on them moving on and taking the first steps in their semi-independent lives, it hurts for you a bit too and every time they come home and go again.
When my two were aged 8 and 6, we had a family holiday in Charmouth, Dorset. We were still in the ‘beach holiday’ years. After tea, most nights we would walk from the caravan down to the beach. The boys would run off and play on the sand and we would sit on the grassy bank and watch them playing as the sun went down over the sea. On one of those evenings a thought came into my head; I wasn’t sure whether I should share it with my wife. I did, but not until after the end of the holiday. That thought, more a realisation actually, was that we would potentially only have as many summer holidays with the boys as we had already had. At the time, it worried me but looking back it was a good thing.
As parents, we all sometimes hanker for the independence that we had pre children. There’s no doubt that as your kids get more mature and able to look after themselves you do get out more. But the earlier you realise that some time in the not too distant future, they will leave and you will miss them; then that makes a difference to how you view their remaining years as your children and how you can play a part in their lives. We’ve been blessed, we are good together as a family and always will be, ups or downs. That foundation was laid by that realisation that evening on the beach in Charmouth.
So enjoy them being part of the family, you made it that way.