I remember back when Denisa and I were expecting TRC, our first child. There seemed to be so many questions that I didn’t know the answer to. Experiences I’d never had before. How in the world was I going to be able to handle all of it? Naps, feeding, clothes, diapers, illnesses. It seemed like a ton of different things to worry about and figure out, all on the fly. Yes, we read different books about parenting, and that helped, but the fact of the matter is that for so much of those early years, we were basically flying blind.
Like a pilot who’s plopped in front of a control stick with nothing more than a “how to” book and the phone number of his teacher, and then told to get going, because that plane is taking off one way or another.
At the time, I was really just focused on getting through those first few years. If I could get the hang of that, then it must get easier from then on, right?
As I’m learning, that plane ride doesn’t stop once you hit altitude. It just transitions into new experiences to handle and figure out. This isn’t to say that Denisa and I feel like we’re floundering as parents at the moment. Just an observation that the low level anxiety of “what in the world do I do now?” never truly goes away.
It’s different for second and third kids, of course. You’ve had one kid’s worth of practice, and so you have an idea about what you’re doing. (Though of course each child is different, and you need to adapt to new circumstances as they arise.) But for first kids? That’s rough stuff sometimes.
So consider this an open invitation to all you parents out there who are ahead of Denisa and me. Who have (or had) teens and the like. If you could go back and give yourself advice to help things out, what would it be? Are there any big mistakes you made that could have been easily avoided? (Mine as a young father? Going down a spiral slide with TRC and breaking his leg. That was a seriously dumb move, young-Bryce.)
How do you balance letting teens have autonomy and yet do your best to keep them headed in the right direction? To date, we’ve mainly just been trying to do our best to maintain a good relationship with our kids. Talk to them frequently. Spend time doing what they want to do with them. Take an interest in their interests. But also continue to enforce family rules and have them be active participants in the family (chores, etc.)
Anyway. I don’t have much more in the way of comments at the moment. I’m at the beginning of this next phase of the flight, so I don’t feel qualified to say much more. But I’m always listening and open to advice. (The great thing about advice is you can always listen to it, and then you only have to apply it if you agree with it . . .)