When is it time to let them go?
As children become headstrong teens, it’s hard to know when to step back or when to intervene
Any parent will know that, as your child grows up, they’ll start making decisions you don’t necessarily agree with. and it’s inevitable that some of those decisions will turn into mistakes. But that’s all part of growing up, right? Brooklyn Beckham, 19, has lived out his teenage years in the spotlight, and we’ve seen him date a string of girlfriends (he’s been linked with five different girls since he turned 15), cover his body in more than 20 tattoos and more recently drop out of his photography university course in new York. meanwhile, his parents, Victoria and David, have seemingly stood back and allowed their first born to become his own person, showering him with their unwavering love. But letting your child branch out alone isn’t always easy, and striking the balance between supportive and just plain nagging can be difficult. So how do you fight the urge to intervene – and should you? Woman investigates…
Shona Sibary, 47, lives in west Sussex with her children, Flo, 20, annie, 18, monty, 16, and Dolly, nine.
There are almost 4.5 million teenagers in the UK. Two of them – just two – belong to me. But, coupled with my eldest Flo, who has just turned 20, there are days when it feels as if I am dealing with way more than my fair share of the nation’s hormones.
I feel it every time Flo swigs my vodka after I’ve gone to bed and then disappears into the night with a boy who doesn’t have the manners to introduce himself but thinks it’s OK to raid my fridge at 4am. I feel it when I am forced to body-search Annie because she hides cigarettes in her socks and lies about the fact she’s smoking; and I feel it when Monty puts his phone down for a second and I have a little spot check only to discover he has 1,500 Facebook friends and I have no clue how to access any of the weird social media sites he spends his every waking moment on.
This is the reality I’m faced with. Every moment of parenting right now is a bit like stumbling through a terrifying minefield.
My husband Keith tries to comfort me by explaining that it is programmed into their DNA to make bad decisions and break all the rules.
I don’t share much in common with Victoria Beckham, apart from the fact that we both have four children of not dissimilar ages. I often wonder how she is coping – especially with Brooklyn.
My oldest, Flo, also dropped out of college. She also has two tattoos – something I had expressly forbidden and she managed to hide until the day she was walking from the shower to her room and her towel fell to reveal the offending message just above her groin: ‘Go with the Flo.’
But what can you do? Keith and I ranted and raged about both the college issue and the tattoos and, in the end, we came to the painful conclusion that not only was there absolutely nothing we could do, but, actually, it might be better for her if we stood back and let her make her own mistakes.
I found this particularly difficult. As mothers, we are programmed to catch them when they fall – to protect, guide and help them over life’s hurdles. Then, suddenly, they become 5ft 10in teenagers who push the boundaries of reasonable behaviour every single day making, quite honestly, stupid decisions, and as parents we feel as if we have lost all control.
The only thing I can do is hold my nerve. Scientists say it’s something to do with their frontal lobes going haywire and after a few years things settle down and they start behaving like normal human beings again. In the meantime I continue to dodge the bullets, only intervening when my children do something so awful or illegal that I have no choice. Flo once stole our family car at 2am, before passing her driving test, and drove it around town with her friends in the back.
I didn’t call the police. But I did pack all her possessions into a box, lock her out and tell her that if she loved the car so much she should live in it while thinking hard about the choices she was making.
I honestly thought we were over the hard part. Obviously one hears about the ‘difficult’ teenage years, the eye rolling and door slamming. It makes me want to laugh in a slightly insane way when I think about this now. If only door slamming were all I had to deal with.
‘As mothers, we Are programmed To catch Them when They fall’ ‘we feel we’ve lost control’
lionel richie, 69, was forced to watch as his daughter nicole, 37, was arrested multiple times between 2002 and 2006.
shona has found herself tested to the limit by her kids