I am so not good with transitions. Can anyone relate? When my toddlers went to school full-time, I grieved. I kept thinking, when would we go to the park? (I have since realized we have thousands of park dates left.) When my teenagers got their license, I grieved when would we have captive conversations in the car? (I have since realized we have thousands of more miles together.)
Now I have two kids who will be seniors this month and I am telling myself this isn’t the end, but the beginning of a whole new relationship with them. While we are enjoying our last weeks of summer together, I’ve asked them to share their expectations and fears for what the next year (and beyond) will hold and what they wanted from me. So, Mamas, on behalf of 17 year olds across the country, here is my summary commitment to their list.
1. I am going to ask more about their present than their future. I want to hear their excitement over final sports seasons, new jobs, latest test scores, and new relationships. I won’t get a chance to share all of that with them if I’m too focused on what they don’t know about what’s next.
2. I commit to being more interested in who they are becoming now (rather than what they will study) in college. Statistics show this generation will change jobs more often than any other previous. They will find, keep and advance in their future employment because of their integrity, appetite to learn and willingness to work with others. This is my final year to influence full-time these values. I am committing to not missing this opportunity.
3. I am refusing to parent with the carrot or the stick. As their parent, I can lazily resort to controlling their behavior through rewards (If you get this grade, If you cut the grass, If you stay for dinner… then…) or through punishment (If you don’t clean your room, If you don’t get a job, If you don’t get these grades… then…) All these conversations do is extrinsically motivate them to behave a certain way or manipulate a situation in their favor. As soon as the circumstances change, they might no longer motivated to do the right thing. In contrast, I have this beautiful season I can enjoy transitioning into parental influence. Through relationship, I can guide, instruct, encourage and admonish, setting myself up as life-long sounding board.
4. Seize the moment. No one knows the future, and I refuse to see them as projects to complete. They are people who will never forget this last year of school under my roof. This is the time to wake up and make pancakes on Saturdays, to say ‘yes’ as often as possible, if it enriches our relationship and creates a memory.
I wonder if in the middle of all this saying-yes-listening-cheering on-influencing, I might become a fan of transition after all.
Here’s to a year of remembering ‘who’ is more important than ‘what’ or ‘where’ or ‘when…’