August 17, 2011
Sex, Drugs & Driving: Surviving the Teenage Years
When my son was a baby I could not wait for him to walk, now I wish he would just sit still. I could not wait for him to talk, now I wish he would be quiet sometimes. I could not wait for him to drive, and now I find myself praying he will fail his permit test and not be allowed to drive.
I’m excited that he is so close to taking this next step into independence, but I am also scared. Driving is great, but also a new set of stresses for parents. He is a very responsible kid and I don’t worry about him behind the wheel, it’s everyone else that freaks me out.
If the State of California is going to permit my son to drive, am I allowed to not permit him? His driving has sent me into a whirlwind of memories. I can remember very clearly when he first called me Momma, when he took his first step, and the very first time he told me loved me.
I keep having flashbacks to when he was a baby, and nightmares about taking him to the DMV. He is my greatest joy and while he is always going to be my baby, this is a step towards independence that he has been anxiously waiting for as long as I have been dreading it.
Is it wrong that I don’t want him drive at night, on the freeway, during rush hour, or be allowed to make anything other than right hand turns? Can he not handle these rules for a year? Or two? I must talk to the DMV about adopting these ideas into their permit restrictions.
Between driving, sex and drugs, the teenage years are rough. He is finding his way and doing great, but this stage of life is really stressful for parents. I know I have taught him well and raised him right, but it all goes out the window and his friends now have more power than I do.
Peer pressure is intense, and the desire to be independent and make your own decisions is also a strong force. As parents we need to learn the balancing act of when to push and when to let go. I don’t want him to make decisions that are based on proving me wrong.
We have a lot of control when our kids are little because they are never out of our sight. As teenagers they are away form us more than they are home and it becomes about trust. Can I trust him to remember all I’ve taught him and can I trust he will make the right choices?
Sex, drugs and driving are all options around the same time and it’s a lot to deal with. When I think back to my own teenage years, it seems like I was not faced with the same pressures my son is. I recall it as a much simpler time. Maybe I’ve just blocked all struggles out?
I want to follow him around and watch everything he does, which is not good because I probably don’t want to know about half the things he does. The teenage years are less about parenting and more about trusting. I’m still going to lay down the law, just try to trust him, and myself, more.
I’m just feeling growing pains I guess. I need to trust that all the work I’ve done is going to pay off and he will remember my words and lessons when he should. Being a teenager is hard. Being the parent of a teenager is also hard. It’s a crapshoot so all I can do is pray, and keep the faith.