Teenagers are like race horses. If you’re in the midst of raising them (like I am), or you’ve somehow lived through it (lucky you!), you know what I mean.
After lots of conversations with fellow parents, I found a new way to look at this crazy age that helps me hang on to my dwindling sanity: It's my race horse analogy. Teens run full speed ahead, yet they are unaware that blinders allow them to see only what is straight in front of them and not the peripheral pitfalls that can be dangerous or even deadly as they make their way toward an invisible finish line somewhere in the distance.
Of course we, the jockeys, are there for them. Our experience allows us to see the big, wide view that our kids can’t. But at this point, it’s their race to run and all we can do is guide them to stay on track. It’s tricky because each horse is different and requires unique handling. Some need to be pushed harder. Others need us to ease up. Some of our teens will buck us with everything they’ve got. Others will take what we offer. Most do a little of both. And usually as soon as we think we’ve figured them out, something changes and we have to start figuring all over again.
There’s no training for this jockeying so it can be hard to know whether to loosen the reigns or pull them in. And then how much is too much? Or too little? That’s when we have to look left and look right and learn from the other jockey parents around us. That’s when we have to seek out to those who are ahead of us and are willing to look back over their shoulders to share their hindsight. Sometimes we have to throw the reins to a professional who knows better how to handle the run. And every once in a while, we might even have a trick of our own to teach.
If you have advice to pass on, please share it here. God knows that we parents of teens can use it. And thank you, fellow jockeys, for your wisdom. We’re better when we ride together.