Once when I was a mother of a newborn and a toddler a mother of teenagers said to me “you know I think they need you around more when they are teenagers than when they are babies”. As I wiped pooey bums, worried about delayed speech development, monitored TV consumption and agonised over the nutritional value of a diet consisting solely of peanut butter sandwiches I thought the woman was MAD. How could self-sufficient teens need you around? Wasn’t the natural order of things that they wouldn’t want you interfering in their lives? As teens no longer needed babysitting wouldn’t that mean you got a chance to get your life back? Focus more on work?
Well fast-forward some twelve years and here I am the mother of TWO teenagers. I seriously don’t know how that happened. Wasn’t it just yesterday I was a teenager myself? Oh that’s right there’s an invitation to my 30 year school reunion on the fridge, obviously adolescence was a while ago.
Turns out that mother back in 2001 was right. Teenagers do need you more than babies.
A baby has specific needs that have to be met, they need to be fed, cleaned, loved and cared for, but in reality they aren’t too fussy about who is changing their nappy they just want it done.
Teens need someone to be PRESENT when they are ready to talk. Often, that doesn’t neatly align with your schedule but somehow you have make an effort to be there to engage about the multitude of issues racing through their head on any given day.