My third child, a daughter, turned 17 yesterday and had a lovely, happy carefree day.... It inevitably got me thinking about how we watch them grow, and how their generation differs from ours.
As we approached her birthday, she was dropping 'hints' about things she "really needs". Some hints were tucked away safely and acted upon, others were met with a "hmmmm" and put aside to think on (or forget), and some just made me laugh. I mean, really?! can you tell me what a 17 year old, living in the countryside, could possibly do with a pair of Louboutin?!! Yes, you read that right. Not that she expected me to pay proper Louboutin prices, she was convinced she found a site where they were sold cheaper.....
Whatever..... the question is, when is it time to say "yes, you're right, times have changed, and your generation does need things that we never even dreamt of" and when is it time to say " NO WAY!! Don't even think about it!" ?
Of course this doesn't only apply to gifts and purchases, it is also true for behaviour and boundaries.
As a parent I find myself constantly setting boundaries, and permanently having to judge where they should lie and whether they are flexible. Since my children
are quite a strong headed bunch have character (probably not a bad thing in today's competitive world) I tend to set the boundaries too tight for the first round of negotiations, knowing full well what the reaction will be and thus leaving myself a little room for manoeuvre.
When they were little they soon figured that Papa was a softer touch than Maman. A couple of times I said "No" to a daughter only to hear; "it doesn't matter we'll ask daddy, he'll say yes!"
We have got over that now, but there is so much peer pressure around. What is the right time to come home from friends? How closely do you check on a teenage party in the barn? How high do heels have to be?!
I'm not trying to make my children sound like monsters. They are great kids, well balanced and sociable. I adore them, and I'm proud of them. But raising teenagers is a pretty steep learning curve, and by the time the fourth child gets to 18 I'll certainly have learnt a lot, and changed a lot too. "Don't worry, Mummy just needs to grow up" is how I once heard one daughter explain to the other.
Well yes, maybe this Mummy does need to grow up, and most of the time she enjoys the process. But sometimes, just now and again, Mummy doesn't want to be the rule setter, the figure of authority; now and again she just wants to be c-o-o-l.
Thanks for listening to this, I'm sure you have been through some of the same stuff. Some more extreme, some less. Do you think that the world has changed that much in the past 40 years? Do you see eye to eye on everything with your children? I especially wonder about those amazing parents who home school their children, that must really change the way things work out. Or the families where religious faith is central to everyday life, sometimes a comfort and sometimes an added pressure?
I'd really love to hear what your experiences have been. If you'd like to share, as a parent or as a child, what have you come away with?