Thus We Begin . . Parenting Our Teen

Aidan turned 13 recently.

It was a momentous birthday for him, becoming a teen and all.  He took it in his usual casual stride.  Quiet anticipation.  Crooked grin.  He wanted his favorite chocolate cake and a few friends over for a sleepover and pizza.

But it was a significant birthday for Philip and me, too.  We passed our own milestone:  we are the parents of a teen!

Little Aidan reading to little sister Claire

I won’t speak for Philip here, but for me becoming the mom of a teen feels much like turning 40:  I am excited!  I’m looking forward to watching Aidan find his footing in the world.  He’s such a fun and interesting kid already, I imagine it’ll only get better as his mind matures and his faith deepens.

Of course, I’ve read about parents who dread the teen years.  They see years of pain ahead.   Fighting.  Rejection.  Disrespect.  I am perhaps (hopefully not) being naive, but it’s hard for me to believe that my sweet Aidan could become obstinate, defensive, arrogant, and rude anytime soon.

I read one mom’s account of her son’s teen years and it made me pay attention.  He was a sweet kid until he was 14, then he became withdrawn and gloomy, offering only grunts to basic questions.  She said that by 18 he was himself again.  Is this sort of withdrawal and rudeness inevitable?  I hope not.

I’m going to go into this teen thing with a plan.  I will pray and hope for the best, but I’ll also cooperate with the Holy Spirit in answering my prayers by being informed, prepared, and proactive.

Big Aidan and little sister Lydia

I’ve been thinking and praying about Aidan’s coming teenage years for a while.  I’ve read some books and articles already, but now it’s getting serious given he’s THIRTEEN.   I am re-reading a chapter on the teen years in my favorite parenting book:  Parenting with Grace by Gregory Popcak.  Love this book.  It’s an attachment parenting book written by a Catholic father and therapist.  It’s been my parenting bible for many years, along with Dr. Sear’s many books.

Popcak addresses childhood from birth to 18, while Sears limits a lot of his writing to the baby and early childhood years.  So I am glad to have Popcak’s book — he gives me a place to start in getting serious about parenting my teen.  Popcak writes that the primary goals for the child during their teen years are:

  • The search for identity,
  • Developing a respectful separation from mom and dad,
  • Fostering their own spirituality, and
  • Dealing with sexual issues.

I want to explore these four areas on my blog as I focus on ensuring Aidan has both the guidance and the freedom he needs to respond to God’s call for his life.  It will be a transition for our whole family — parents, younger kids, and Aidan.

I know, I know.  It’s merely the beginning of this journey.  It feels a little like the beginning of the journey I started 13 years ago when I became a new mom, having read some parenting books . . . thinking I actually knew something about being a parent just because I read a few books!

Thus, we begin.

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