I’m not sure why but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how it might be as important to be home with teenagers as it is with toddlers. I’ve always heard this but didn’t really believe or get it until now since I’m in it.
When I worked at a big firm before I had my own kids, I had a conversation with a partner whose wife had recently quit her demanding job in law (voluntarily) to stay home. He was shocked at how it changed his own lifestyle and made everything easier at work and at home-especially raising their two teenagers. He tried to explain but had a tough time articulating it himself. Maybe he was trying to avoid sounding too giddy about enjoying this traditional turn of events.
In my own family of 4 kids aged 13-18, it surprises me that some of the kids miss me if I’m not here when they get home from school (obviously I don’t homeschool anymore). They don’t whine about it, they just notice it followed by the “where r u?” text. Also, they don’t usually need me to do anything for them, they just notice #where’smummy? #shemusthavebeenkidnapped #theresnothingtoeat!
Being home when the kids are here keeps me informed naturally and without much questioning about what’s going on with them. Sometimes, they spontaneously tell me about their day directly. More often, I just happen to be around when they’re talking to each other about things that go on at school (one benefit of having a bunch of kids in the same building).
Sure, sometimes these conversations expose my naivete when it comes to most things teen-agery but the kids just laugh and are pretty tolerant of my butting-in.
I also think the consistent contact keeps us in fairly regular communication about major and minor things. Do you have any idea how uncommunicative teenage boys are? Luke’s tolerance for long, administrative conversations is pretty low so it’s best to tic things off the “list of things to remember to talk to Luke about” as they come up which is easier because I’m almost always here when he is. He’s growing out of his curmudgeonliness but neither of us wants to schedule a summit to discuss mundane issues, basic needs or minor calendar matters. My generally-consistent presence at home keeps those at a minimum.
I’m sure the kids don’t tell me everything but they do share a lot with me. I think it’s as much a function of habit as anything else. No question we chat about nonsense more than we talk about things that matter but I think the point is we’re in the habit of talking.
Before anyone takes this the wrong way (I’m acting like anyone reads my boring blog), I’m not suggesting that working parents don’t know or talk to their kids. I’m also not suggesting that I’m a better parent than anyone else because I don’t work outside the home. I’m just making an observation about my experience and something I appreciate about being home with teenagers.