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

Woman (UK) - - Contents -

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.

push­ing bound­aries

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

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