Rosie's blog: New Beginnings.
The New Year has started in our home with the usual taking-down of decorations and disposal of seemingly endless bags of wrapping paper and other assorted rubbish. Now that the decks are clear it gives some space to think about things that could have been better last year and what we could do differently as a family this year. Someone sent me some funny truisms about parenting the other day one of which was “As soon as you think you have cracked something as a parent, the game changes.” They couldn’t be more right about navigating teenagers and as I am only just embarking on this new phase it seems I have more than eight years of this (until the youngest is 20) so I am going to have to learn some new skills.
As my eldest son has entered his teenage years he seems more assertive (sometimes this can be helpful; sometimes, if it’s about bedtime or time on gadgets, less so). We lock horns occasionally but I admire his calm nature and his sense of fair play. He struggles with the concept of feeling mature but not being treated like an adult. Why should children have a different “deal” from adults? Is it just about paying the bills? Having a job? Being “responsible”? The existential troubles exercise us round the supper table; yet we do need to keep the peace and also have a light hearted time too. At the end of the day, I have to be the number one decision maker in the house and have the last word, it’s that simple. But I will always seek their views and want them to feel empowered.
So this year my efforts are going to be in locking horns less and cultivating this willingness for responsibility more. The boys benefit hugely from physical exercise and if they exercise they are more cheerful and easier to please. Also, they are both more than capable of doing some of the tasks that they will need to master over the next few years before university or other independent living begins. Not just cooking. Most parents have plenty of experience of what cooking with children is like and although the boys are good their efforts are mostly experimental and the focus is definitely on the act of producing a meal using as many ingredients/utensils as possible and not making sure anything is left as they found it (we are working on this).
This isn’t all about asking the children to do things differently, it’s really about a shift in focus for me. Last year was punctuated by my youngest’s unexpected illness, but as soon as he was out of hospital I was back at work and did not really take the time to prioritise family as much as I should have done. As a divorcee I only see my children every other weekend so this year I will be making a conscious effort not to work on those weekends and also to make sure that we book and take holidays together (something we also failed to do last summer). So far we are doing quite well, but it is early days. I have another eight years to refine this, with all the anticipated blips and events that will now punctuate the boys’ lives from formal exams to heartbreak, it should be interesting.
Rosie is a partner in a City law firm with two sons aged 13 and 11. She is a single parent and works at her office in the City and at home.
Category: A Citymother's Diary