Parenting an adolescent has a bad rap. For every parent who loves this stage of growing independence, raging hormones, and intense emotions, there are 10, maybe 100 or 1,000, who want to run and hide. Add to typical adolescence the challenges associated with gifted intensity and twice-exceptionality, and you have a dangerously challenging mix, right?
Contrary to how the rest of parenting has been for us, adolescence has been kind in our household. Yeah, we have some eye rolling and a little 'tude every so often, but overall the teenage years have so far proven to be more pleasant than any other stage we've been through as parents.
I'm sure there are multiple reasons for this, but I believe there are two main reasons why this stage is so much easier than earlier ones. First, we have been fighting the adolescent battles for many more years than he's been a teenager. Second, those raging hormones have fast-tracked the maturity that has been dragging behind - way behind - in earlier stages.
Let's take the teenage battles first. Teenagers are known for emotional outbursts that rival the "terrible twos," and frustrating parents by making irrational decisions. The Teenlet's special mix of high IQ, hair trigger emotions, over-excitabilities, and immaturity that has complicated every aspect of our lives, have given us a 14 year history of "doing the teens" already. We've fought many of the battles we've watched other parents of teens fight, but we did it when our son was 5, 6, or 7, when the consequences of poor decisions were difficult, but not life-changing. He knows we are his parents, he knows we mean business, and though he has us pushing him towards independence almost more than he is yet striving for it, he knows that we are there supporting him but he will always have to face the consequences of his actions - good or bad. His decisions have become wiser, not perfect by a long shot, but he is learning responsibility and the freedom that comes with it.
Pair that growing wisdom with hormones that have shot his maturity through the proverbial roof (relatively), and it is fantastic to see this child, who has been wringing tears from my heart since he was in preschool, flourishing in ways I sometimes thought if I would never see.
I used to dread these years, thinking I couldn't imagine things getting worse, but that's all I had heard about adolescence - how challenging it is for parents (it's no cakewalk for teens, either). And we may still have that coming. But for now, I love seeing him grow into manhood - becoming independent, passionate about his interests, accepting challenges and stepping up to meet them. I love seeing him stretch his executive skills to work out his own system of organization, and watching him take responsibility when it falls apart and he has to try again.
It is, indeed, a new world. But it is the same one, too.
This post is part of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop on Homeschooling & Parenting Gifted and 2e Kids