A quiet Sunday morning and I can’t sleep. I have too much on my mind and so much of it connects to my children, my sister’s kids and how as parents, we work so hard to foster their growth and confidence. Often, when the same message comes to me several times over a short period of time, it kind of echoes through me until I have time to synchronize it all together. This was a week of messages for sure.
My daughter is backpacking far away. We will only hear from her one more time, when she is safely in Canada. She carries her life on her back for six weeks: a tent, food, clothes, and a toothbrush. I love that she is able to let go of her mascara-clad, fashion-conscious, girly-girl self and explore the adventurous, strong, independent young woman she is destined to be. I want her to see how these powerful experiences will help her mature into a responsible teenager.
There were times when she and I both questioned whether she could handle the physical challenge. But inside we knew she could. She expressed doubt, concern and some nerves before taking that leap of faith. But she is solid and strong (and I wish she had this same power during the school year).
In the same breath, my nephew, who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder, is on his way to overnight camp for his third year. He has a hard time with emotions – he feels the same as we do, but he struggles to communicate those raw feelings. So, his journey began with panic and tears because even at 12 years old, he will really miss my sister and brother-in-law. I know my sister believes – with full conviction – that my nephew will grow and thrive again at camp. But still, my sister calls with that little voice that we all have, with the same question we have ALL asked ourselves over the course of many years raising babies and kids and teens.
Wishing for an Answer
Am I doing the right thing? There isn’t always a clear-cut answer. We weigh those emotional options…and try to steer our teens in the right direction. It doesn’t always work. Not all of our hard work pays off with positive results. But, we keep pushing.
And isn’t that part of raising teens? We gently push, back off, and lean in some more. If we remain complacent about their growth, we miss out on forcing that gentle hand. I don’t mean screaming from the sidelines; I mean helping them search for what they are capable of doing and holding them accountable for the effort it takes to get there.
And that, in my mind, is success – the knowledge that the effort brought awareness about the power of self-reliance, confidence and overcoming obstacles.
Do I know if I did the right thing?