As a storm headed towards New England, and everyone rushed to stock on milk, bread, and wine, I found myself looking forward to a few days stuck inside with my family. We were going to watch movies, try baking bread and spend some quality time hanging out and snuggling.
Unfortunately, our children had other ideas. Ideas that included time with friends and significant others, rather than with mom and dad.
Because it turns out, we are no longer enough for our children.
This has always been the plan – to raise them up, get them ready, and let them loose on the world. For them to rely less on mom and dad and to build their own community of friends, and eventually, family.
But as their world starts to expand, and finds its way into our home, I find I’m not quite ready.
In some ways, this has been coming for a while. But in others, it happened so fast. Suddenly there was a person, our 16-year-old son’s girlfriend, here in our house, and I didn’t know quite what to do. What are the rules? Can they hang out in his room? Doors open or closed? (Answer – yes in the room. Door open with frequent parental interruptions).
What is a “normal” amount of time for her to hang out here, or there? What time should we tell our son to be home from her house? Are we expected to feed her? Do they feed him? How do we talk to her? How is she supposed to talk to us?
And how do we talk to him? About respect, relationships and consent. (He threatened to run if he had to watch the “tea video” one more time – if you haven’t seen it, check it out). How do I handle the idea that someone now looks at our son not as a little boy, but as an attractive man?
Our 13-year-old daughter, who just a few months ago was telling me that she wasn’t ready for him to have a girlfriend, is not that far behind. Instead of spending the weekend here at home, she asked to leave a day early for her planned sleepover (to avoid the weather).
And now she is “dating” someone from school – which, it turns out when you are in the 8th grade doesn’t mean much more than one-on-one texting. And again, we’re faced with conversations about relationships, respect, and consent.
I know we’ve prepared them – our son, when asking to see his girlfriend, often starts with “her parents are home, I will be a gentleman, I will make good choices.” And our daughter told me yesterday that she told her boyfriend preemptively to not even think about asking her for a naked selfie as that is a “no go.” (Oh to have been a fly on the wall to see his reaction to that one).
And I know they know we are here for them if they have any questions. If they need advice. If they run into trouble.
But that doesn’t mean I’m ready – but I also know, we are no longer enough.