No Longer Pliable

(the narrative for my new work)

I have three teenagers—an 18-year-old boy and twin 13-year-old girls. I find these ages remarkably interesting and truly exhausting. I’ve recently come to the realization that my job now is to be a loving witness to their struggles/successes and lend a sympathetic ear when there is an invitation to do so. They are indeed no longer pliable.

I feel like the world sees teenagers a certain way for a convenient narrative. I think we perceive young men as far less complex than their female counterparts because of their generally stoic nature. However, I would venture to say that the angst of this age knows no chromosomal boundaries.

I’ve been thinking about my own upbringing in South Dakota in the 70s and 80s. My parents were young and growing up with us. It seems to me that our generation is parenting quite differently since we are having our children later in our lives. I was 29 when my son was born and 33 (considered advanced maternal age) when my twin girls were born. Those extra years of living must have had some affect on my own parenting style.

Do we put more pressure on our children because we’re older and
further removed from our own teenage experience?

My parents were pretty involved—we had a lot of freedom and thankfully every test score or extracurricular activity wasn’t monitored with hawk-eyed precision. Looking back I think there was some benefit to more freedom. It seems like we took more risks. We weren’t focused on careers and the future so much. We just figured stuff out.

Do we really need College Fairs in 8th grade? Good grief.

By creating this new work, I realize I needed to honor the transitions happening in my family. This is my son’s last year at home before college and my girls will enter high school next year. I’m no longer the parent of young kids. The age in my eyes and the grey in my hair are constant reminders of these big transitions. I would enjoy hearing your observations about teenagers or the work.

3 thoughts on “No Longer Pliable

  1. My oldest is 12, and I was 34 when I had him. My youngest is 4. I was considered an at-risk pregnancy for age, but we were fine. My oldest is starting to want independence, and then be a kid and cuddle up right after. They flip flop so often, it’s hard to figure out what kind of support is best. I don’t want them to feel more pressure than they should, but who can say what amount is right?

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