Unfortunately for us parents, kids don’t come with an instruction manual. We all do the best we can and hope, hope, hope that love and our best is enough. Usually it is – eventually. In the meantime, perfectly normal teens go through periods where they detach from us, where they are embarrassed by us, where they make it clear that we are the last people they will talk to — all while wanting us to take them places and provide things for them. The teen years are a crazy time!
I like your compass. Sometimes a really bad example is actually a good one in that it tells us clearly how we don’t want to be. Your honesty, openness, and love seem to be working. You’ve got essentially good kids who sound pretty typical.
That doesn’t mean that they don’t need you to be maybe a little more assertive about the things that concern you. Internet and text addiction are real problems these days. If you think computer gaming is taking too much of your son’s time, I want to remind you that you are his parent. You can limit the number of hours he spends on the computer by insisting that he take part in other activities as well in order to gain access to it. There is no law that you have to provide him with a cell phone either. If his use of minutes is astronomical, you can also put him on a “minute diet” with only so many minutes paid for per month. After that, it’s up to him. If he has to pay for the minutes, he may be more careful with them.
If you think your daughter is being mistreated or bullied by the other kids in her school, I urge you to talk to the administration about what they are doing to make sure that bullying isn’t tolerated. All kids deserve to feel safe. It can be tough for a kid to be the “new kid.” Please talk to the school counselor about what the school and you can do to help her transition in. If she knows you are talking to her school, she’ll probably be upset with you. That’s okay. Sometimes we have to upset our kids in order to keep them safe. The bonus for her is that she can complain to the other kids about how lame you are – which will win her instant sympathy by some of the other girls.
If you’re still feeling shaky, you might want to see if there is a parent support group at either of the kids’ schools or sponsored by a local church or agency. There’s nothing quite as reassuring as talking with other parents who have the same age kids. The collective wisdom of the group is often what we need to get us through the rough spots.
I wish you well.