Parenting advice and blogs seem to focus on two distinct areas: The new parents to school age child genre and the triage – something is wrong genre. As a result, 90% of the parents I talk with at my conferences and in discussions tend to fall into these two categories and it’s often hard for other parents to relate to me as a father of two teenagers. Unless there is a triage issue, most parents in the teen years have long stopped reading the parents blogs and have just settled in their groove.
Recently, I’ve discovered a phenomena that I’ve read about but did not expect to hit me so hard in the teen years, the Abandonment Issue. After returning from six months abroad in a foreign country, I’ve realized that my two teens are now fully engaged in their own lives and peer group. Each day, the kids have an agenda and schedule filled with school, activities and friends and the last thing on their list is spending time with dad. Gone are the days when dad was the apple of their eye and seen as a super hero that they would run to when scared or in need. Although I knew these days would come, I never thought that they would hit me so hard.
My logical side tells me that this is normal and part of the teenage years, where my kids spread their wings and try things on their own, but my emotional side feels abandoned and as if one chapter of my parenting book has ended. The teen years are the years when peer groups and peer influence become more prevalent in our children but as a father, although I realize that this is normal, it’s hard to not feel abandoned and insignificant.
When your children are little, you never think the day will come when they start to spread their wings and try things on their own and the day they leave your home for college seems like a fairytale in the distant future. However, as the years pass and they grow into young men and women, you soon realize that the distant fairytale is slowly getting closer and closer.
Although friends have become more important in my children’s lives and spending time with mom and dad is “boring” I have to remember that this is all part of God’s plan and that the fruits of years of prayer and hard work are unfolding before my eyes. I also have to remember to cherish the moments when my teens do want to spend time together and to make those moments memorable and meaningful. I pray that God gives me and all parents who enter into this new phase of parenting the strength to continue to reach out to our children, even when they don’t need us as much, and to continue to pray for their safety and that God works in their lives to bring about His ultimate plan for them.
Esse Quam Videri