The complexity of teenagers

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAWhen people ask me the ages of my kids, my brain goes “POW!” when I say my oldest is a sophomore. We have always had an easy time of it, until this last year. The interference of technology into our home life (and into our relationship) has been a source of contention and argument…I’m sure other parents of teens get it. How do you balance time with the necessary technology (school laptop to use Blackboard online and electronic delivery of papers and homework to teachers) with time using the entertaining types, like iPods and phones and emails and IM’ing and and and and….?
And it’s not just the time element, but the idea of content. Sure, I can put K9 on my computer (which limits any content under categories that I choose, such as Sex, Alcohol, Drugs, and Cigarettes) and I can have talks with the older ones about using discernment when choosing photos for Instagram (a particular draw for my 12-year-old daughter). But they still can make decisions unbeknownst to me which could potentially embarrass me (or them!), affect friendships, even affect their future. This is a frightfully complicated layer of parenting that OUR parents never had to deal with, so much of the advice about how to navigate such waters with grace and dignity I have found online.
IRONY.
So this is the complicated part: how do I equip my son to make good choices that honor how we raised him, our values, his spirit, without putting a chokehold on his independence and limiting the development of independent thought and coping skills?
(sigh)
My husband and I have actively sought to help him learn these things: grace, discernment, coping, pride, respect for himself and others. But at the end of the day, it’s up to HIM to either sink or swim. And it’s TERRIFYING. So I hand him his lifejacket, push him off, and keep my fingers crossed. ALL DAY, every day. Because soon, he will be a man.

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