Adjusting to My Early Adolescent Child (My First Chaperone Job)
“Mom, may I please come with my friends to watch Guardians of The Galaxy and go to arcade tomorrow?”...
“Mom, may I please come with my friends to watch Guardians of The Galaxy and go to arcade tomorrow?” It was a very simple yet powerful question from my 10-year old boy.
It struck me that my fear of THE day when he will ask me to be with his friends – had finally unfolded right before my very eyes.
I had to face reality. I’m already a mom of an almost adolescent kid and that instant, a lot ran through my sometimes-over-analytic-mind like:
“Naku, he’ll have his girlfriend soon!”
“Oh no, he might have plenty of facial pimples!”
"He might not want to be with me anymore, at all."
Of course I allowed him, but not without me as a chaperone. After all he is just 10 and not an official teenager. Wait, what? Me? Already a chaperone and no longer his main companion? Do you know how that feels? I was emotionally affected, OA pero yun ako. I vividly remember him as my first-born, a healthy toddler, an active preschooler, an adjusting grade-schooler, and now he wants to be more independent and go out with his friends. I could be exaggerating if I tell you that my world was shattering and my heart was being cut in half, crying and breaking, when I was asked that question.
So last Saturday, I chaperoned him to his very first and official lakwatsa: movie and arcade with his school friends. As expected, his classmates' parents also played the role of chaperones. There was a feeling of relief that I'm not alone in going through this adjustment to my child's new developmental stage. We were talking and agreed when we said, they are no longer our babies.
|He was the only thorn among the roses, other two boys weren't allowed to go according to him.|
|Dandre with his classmates. They were all so excited when they met up, giggling all over the place.|
Funny thing was, all of us parents watched the same movie, but we were seated on another row, far from our kids but near enough to supervise. The kids were seated together and each with their own bag of popcorn and drinks. After the movie, they went to the arcade with the other parents. I let him go with them alone, kept a little distance and trusted him to meet me at a certain time to teach him time management and responsibility. Because of this little independence he felt, he was saying "I LOVE YOU SO MUCH Mommy!" and "THANK YOU Mommy!" in front of his classmates and other parents who brought him to our meeting place after the arcade. I thought, I did the right thing for allowing him to explore but still with parental guidance.
Independence. That's what I made him experience. As a pre-adolescent, he now has the desire to participate more socially outside and take on another role as he's aware of his physical and mental development. That's just one part of the many adjustments parents of early adolescents would be going through. Here are some more which I should also prepare my mind and heart as well and pray that I go through them with flying colors.
Lesser Attention. Since their world is becoming larger with more things to do to capture their attention like school work, hobbies, Facebook (chat) and friends, their attention to family is expected to be lesser than usual. When they were younger and fully dependent to their parents, of course they are inseparable. But now that they are starting to embrace their independence, we have to adjust to this major change as they enter their early adolescent stage.
Desire For Privacy. Because they are also embracing their independence our adolescent child is also forming their own identity and developing a personality on their own without the presence and attachment to their family. Comes with this is their decreasing likeliness to be affectionate with their parents in public especially in front of their friends (Thank God my Dandre's not ashamed at all to kiss and hug me in front of his friends- YET.) But psychologists say this "distancing" is normal when you're out in malls with them. You and I have been there right? We should know better. This is the stage where our pre-adolescent children will start to have crushes or other interests that are no longer for younger kids. My handsome lad now had shifted from toys to Facebook chatting and as much as I want to pry and peek into the conversations he makes with his peers, I don't (when he's still looking.) Try as much as you can not to go over his things as he yearns now for more privacy. Just make sure, you guide your child in areas where you think he/she still needs parental guidance for.
Communication. When he was younger, he would even hold my face with both his hands and make sure he had my full attention to whatever he was going to say. Now, we do talk regularly over the phone when I am at work to ask him how his day went, but I noticed that it's not the same as before. When I ask him how's school, he would now just reply, "It's okay po." Instead of squeezing out a story from him, I just set an example by really telling him what I was busy with the whole day. I try to share as much as I can about my personal life so that he would feel that sharing and communicating is good in families. In return, he feels comfortable sharing a little more too. I tell him not to be afraid to ask if he doesn't understand some things about school, friends, crushes, and even his own body. Our tone now should be a little softer and definitely not commanding nor demanding. When your pre-adolescent child still turns to you for advice or simply want to talk to you, be there. Take away your phone and anything that will distract you. But expect too that this stage will make him tell you lesser about what's going on in his life.
So as I go through this stage of parenting and as my son enters this new phase, we're both adjusting. I am a bit emotional about this but as I've said to myself, I have to let go and trust him more. All I could do is be a responsible and an always-present parent to him. Support and guide him while he goes through changes in his body, in his interests and in his increasing independence. The best thing I could do while transitioning my parenting style is to PRAY. I hope I will do well. I hope I'll be a parent he won't turn away from or hate to be with. Please do pray for me too.