Thursday, March 1, 2012


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Many of my friends have children much younger than mine.  They are only just embarking on the scary journey that is "teenagerhood".  Me?  I'm  nearing the end of it with an almost 20 year old and an 18 year old.  Hang on a minute.   Nearing the end?  I should already be at the end.   Why do I still have a twenty year old at home?   My original parenting plans had calculated that eighteen was the end date.  At eighteen, I would be cutting the apron strings, pushing them out the door and putting my feet up with a huge sigh.  Right?  Nope.  Not so.

Times, they have changed.   You see, 25 is the new 18, when it comes to boys and for girls it is a few years earlier.  What the???  Do the math people, I still have seven years to go!!  That's more years than high school.  Nobody told me this when I signed up to be a parent.  When we were growing up we couldn't wait to leave home.  Once gone, that was it.  A sibling had moved into your vacated bedroom before the front door had closed behind you.  It was over. You were gonesky.

It wasn't that we were no longer loved, it just meant that we had left the nest.  We were embarking on our own lives. We had already started becoming our own person since around sixteen years of age.   We could leave school in grade 10 and, for some us (me), we were only fifteen years of age.  School was finished.  We were grown up now.  We went to TAFE, learnt a skill or trade and by sixteen were working, usually full time.   All of a sudden our parents weren't telling us what to do.  We had more freedom to make our own decisions.  Not always the right ones, but we were responsible for ourselves.  Most of us did our own washing.  Some of us had even moved out of home to share a flat with some friends.   We weren't even eighteen.  We were driving around, owning cars, dating and working out our own problems.

Most of us didn't go home and discuss our worries or problems with our parents.   We had friends we confided in.  Our parents were quite oblivious to the lives we led, and the strange thing was, they seemed to like it that way.  They didn't pry, they were just happy to see us when we got home or popped in to visit.    They didn't give us the third degree.  It is not that they didn't care about us, they'd simply clocked off from the day to day stuff.  We were eighteen!

We are a different breed of parents now.  Does this make us better or worse than our parents?  Have we systematically stifled our children's ability to mature?   Are we too involved in our children's lives?    I would answer yes to the last two questions and am undecided on the first one.   I totally believe we have stifled our children's ability to mature.  We don't let them make decisions at sixteen years of age.  We wouldn't dream of letting them leave school and start working.  Are you serious?  At sixteen my boys hardly knew what day it was, let alone the ability to get out of bed on time to work!  (This could be due to not owning an alarm clock and having a mother who went up and down the stairs at least ten times each morning to wake them.)   Bingo!

Professor Alison Gopnik has written extensively on the teenage mind and her findings are interesting and extremely insightful.   You can read what she says here.

All that said, I'm glad we are more involved as parents.  I don't believe our parents or our parents' parents ever got to know the people their children became.  I think that is sad.  I love my children because they are my children, but I also love the people they are.  I really do like them.  I'd even like them if they weren't my children.  They are good people and I'm lucky I get to know the real them.

Excuse me while I go and redraft my parenting plan ... with the "EXTRA SEVEN" years added in!    In the meantime, what do you think?  Are we better or worse parents than our parents?

PS:  I do love still having my boys at home and will miss their daily kisses and I love you's when they eventually leave home.  I will not miss their smelly clothes, my messy kitchen and farting.


Naomi said...

Oh Annie! I'm just finishing a post on starting those teenage years. I even put in it they may leave home at 18 like I did... I know I'm dreaming!

I sometimes worry about being too involved in my kids lives, about not letting them mature, make their own decisions... but I bumble along, like all of us do, making mistakes and learning as I go.

I don't know if I'm better or worse than my parents, I'm different to them... but then I wonder if their parenting had something to do with that?

diemperdidi said...

I was very sad when my son eventually left home because he did way more grocery shopping and cooking than I did :(

Mrs Catch said...

Well-said. I love having my boys at home too. Teenagers are hilarious and put an extra dimension of fun in your days. My boys make messes, but know how to clean. It's handy when their mother keels over, out cold, upon opening a sports bag containing week-old dirty football gear...

Lisa H said...

I left home at 18 so I always figured that would be what my boys do too. Not quite.

At 22, my eldest son has moved out and home again - twice! He's talking about moving again, I'm not holding my breath! (but I am making plans to redecorate his room)

On the other hand, my 20 year old son hasn't made any noises about leaving the nest. I think he's here to stay, at least until he's 25.

Diminishing Lucy said...

I am very different to my parents. Very. Enough said!

Mine are only little. I want to freeze the age and stage I am at right now.

Your boys won't ever want to leave because you are so lovely. Xxx

anecdotalanna said...

The world is ever changing, so too the requirements of parenting. Each generation is expected to know more than the last. Technology and related advancements have a huge role to play in this.
So it makes sense that it might take longer to teach our kids what they need to know before they fly the coup.
Your boys are lucky to have you, each day they share the benefit of your knowledge is advantageous to the rest of society.

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