Sending My Teen Off Into The World

moving away <p>Yesterday, I snuggled into bed beside my daughter. Sure, she’s 17. But who doesn’t like to be woken up slowly and lovingly? She was in town for a brief stint – 36 hours – before leaving again to start her new life.</p><!–mep-nl–><p class=”blue”>I didn’t want to miss a minute of it.</p><!–mep-nl–><p><code style=’display: none;’><!–more–></code></p><!–mep-nl–><p><a href=”http://parentingadhd.net/?p=12243″ title=”Keeping Cool: Don’t Take it Personally” target=”_blank”>As you can imagine, my emotions are near the surface</a> – all of them, it seems! I can be angry at my husband (for almost nothing, I might add) in one moment, and crying tears of joy the next.</p><!–mep-nl–><p>Transitions will do that to you. As much as I like to embrace change, and as much as I’m excited to see what the world will bring next, there is something unsettling about it. It prays on vulnerability. It is a primitive part of the human experience. But I digress – that is another blog for another day.</p><!–mep-nl–><p>So, yesterday was the last day that this child of mine will live in my home as a minor. She may not be “off the payroll,” as we like to call it, for a few more years, but <a href=”http://parentingadhd.net/?p=17666″ title=”Parenting a Daughter with ADHD: Fostering Independence and Self-Esteem in the Early Years” target=”_blank”>her autonomy as a human being is about to change… forever.</a></p><!–mep-nl–><p>The next time she comes home, she’ll have been living on her own, determining her own schedule and setting her own expectations.</p><!–mep-nl–><p>Hallelujah! And OMG!</p><!–mep-nl–><p>As I’ve struggled to find the learning in this experience – for myself, for all of us – I’ve discovered two key principles.</p><!–mep-nl–><ol><!–mep-nl–><li>Effective parenting is about recognizing and managing conflicting interests. As a parent, my job is to navigate the paradoxes, finding the middle ground while walking comfortably at the extremes.</li><!–mep-nl–><li>Quite often, the best way to manage those conflicting interests is through ‘soft’ skills, rather than hard logic. In truth, when I come from my heart, and I trust my instincts, I am my best self as a parent.</li><!–mep-nl–></ol><!–mep-nl–><p>As I prepared for my daughter’s departure, for example, it became clear that I needed to:</p><!–mep-nl–><ul class=”zebra”><!–mep-nl–><li>Create time to be together, while allowing her to take her space.</li><!–mep-nl–><li>Help her prepare all the details, while giving her the space to do it her way.</li><!–mep-nl–><li><a href=”http://childrenwithadhd.net/let-them-take-risks/” title=”Let them Take Risks” target=”_blank”>Do things for her that she could do for herself, while encouraging her independence.</a></li><!–mep-nl–></ul><!–mep-nl–><p>It’s a tricky line to walk, fraught with uncertainty and indecision. When should I step in? When should I stay back?</p><!–mep-nl–><p>Sometimes my husband will ask me how to handle a certain situation, and I don’t exactly know how to answer him. It infuriates him, like I’m holding back valuable “Mom knowledge.” I understand why he gets so frustrated. In truth, it’s hard to answer because I rely on two intangibles to help me figure out how to walk that line: intuition, and love.</p><!–mep-nl–><p>Yesterday turned out to be a long and beautiful day:</p><!–mep-nl–><ul class=”zebra”><!–mep-nl–><li>We spent time together running errands and eating; and she had time by herself, and with her friends.</li><!–mep-nl–><li>We packed and sorted and packed some more; and I held my tongue, and allowed her to go at her pace.</li><!–mep-nl–><li>I made her gluten-free granola for her trip, and brought water and treats to keep her going (after all, I want her to <strong>want</strong> her to come home, again); and</li><!–mep-nl–><li>I followed her lead whenever possible.</li><!–mep-nl–></ul><!–mep-nl–><p>All in all, I’m happy to report that things went quite smoothly. My “baby” boarded a plane today happy, confident and as ready as possible. Whew! And did I mention, OMG?!</p><!–mep-nl–><p>As for me, today I’ve felt a bit lost, somewhat disoriented. I asked my husband, “how on earth has that been 18 years?” It’s shocking, really. The good news is that I have had some practice, lately, trusting my instincts, and leading from my heart. Good thing, too. <a href=”http://parentingadhd.net/?p=17408″ title=”Make Every Breathe a Yoga Class” target=”_blank”>I think I’m going to use some of that love and intuition to take care of myself this week!</a></p><!–mep-nl–>

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