I wave goodbye as the car door slams and watch my teenage kids walk towards the school. I won’t see them again until late at night, except sometimes for a quick shuttle from school to activities. Meandering home, I think of the elementary school days when I would hang around after the bell rang, coffee in hand, chatting with other parents.
By high school years, you lose those daily connections. Parents are running off to activities and jobs, and it seems like everything has become a rush. Even at team events and extracurricular activities, parents aren’t sharing the same way, as our kids may have grown apart, or their problems have become bigger, harder to talk about. You feel like you’re alone in the parenting game.
The constant rush of adding things to your family schedule, which seemed to multiply exponentially every year, has left you scattered. But the kids are becoming more self-sufficient. They still need you, but in a more complicated way, which is difficult to navigate. Friday-Family-Nights have changed; one kid is off with a boyfriend or headed to a party, and the other has to work. The leisurely movie nights with popcorn and junk food are few and far between. But we’re still on the clock, as those late night pick-up texts start to come through.
Parenting teens can be lonely.
Parent-shaming happens at every stage, but when you are in the teen stage, the shaming tends to be lethal. If your kid is taking part in questionable behaviour, people judge from afar. And it’s equally hard to decide whether you should tell another parent what you may know about their kid. Often, it’s easier just to be silent. But you feel bad not talking about it.
You can be sure that those moms feel lonely too. Unsure about whether they are doing the right thing, giving their kid the right guidance, or helping them with the right resources. It’s a complicated time.
And so begins a new stage in parenting; figuring out how to continue relationships with other parents, amidst the constant hustle. Or letting those friendships fall away. At one time it seemed you had so much in common. But now the silence is deafening.
There continues to be plenty of joy in parenting teens too. In many ways, as you cross different bridges, your family becomes a more solid unit. You start to see your kids form their core values and figure out who they are and who they want to be. I want to spend every second with them, hanging out and learning more about who they are becoming, but I know that have to let them create other relationships too.
I am hoping that the loneliness won’t last. As with every other stage, I know deep down that this too will go quickly.