Is there a particular age of children which you most enjoy? Some people love babies and others are happier with children who can talk and communicate clearly. I have a brother-in-law who adores three year old children. He has volunteered in the three year old’s class at church for nearly thirty years. Three year olds can say and do amazing and entertaining things. I have heard parents say their favorite age is whatever age their child is currently. I can understand that sentiment.
I am a champion for the teenagers. My teenagers were awesome. Having teens has many benefits for the parents and the family. Having a teen can mean no longer hiring an outside babysitter for younger siblings. When my teens babysat their siblings, I still paid them. Teens enjoy many activities which adults also enjoy such as movies that both parents and teens wish to see. It is nice to view movies beyond the G rating.
Teens are acquiring skills and abilities which can benefit the family. They may be more tech savvy than their parents. Teens may have valuable ideas and lend solutions to conflicts or problems. Their maturing minds and bodies enable them to be more productive and capable to truly help. I loved seeing my sons move furniture or change the oil in the car.
As teens all our children had employment, which meant they had their own spending money and could contribute to some of their expenses such as paying part of the registration fees for summer camps and other big ticket events. Once they earned their driver’s licenses they could transport themselves and siblings.
I thoroughly enjoyed having mature discussions with our teens. It is fascinating to watch their ability to reason and think logically develop. A favorite activity was discussing literature with all of them. Our second son was and is a voracious reader. I could not keep up with his pace of reading. Fortunately I had been a reader for 30ish years before he began reading.
Parents do not have to dread the teenage years. Those years have many wonderful aspects, too. Then . . . . . poof. . . . . they are over and gone. I think the teen years are the pay-off –years for all your hard work of discipline and nurturing throughout their childhood.
One of the biggest struggles during the teens is the desire for independence. I can completely relate to that desire. I hated high school because I felt like it kept me from real life. I was thrilled when those three and a half years ended.
Parents can help their teens with this struggle by stopping the struggle. Give them more and more independence. They need it and it is good preparation for them. Stop holding their hand, they don’t want or need you to do that. Stop bailing them out when they fail. Let them manage their school work and their schedule without your constant supervision. That is how they become independent. Give them more responsibility and accountability for themselves. Be available but do not micromanage them – particularly once they are in high school. Yes, they still need to follow house rules. Give them a curfew only if it is needed.
I recall when I was in high school asking my dad to help me make a choice about something. His reply was, “what do you think you should do?” It was a great answer and one I used with my children.
Enjoy your child at every age/stage, including the teens.