Teenagers and family ties…

When I was growing up, I was my parent’s youngest child and only daughter. I freely admit that I was a handful in my teenage years. In turn I had a daughter – who I love dearly – but who was an example of ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ ie. we had our challenges together during those teenage years. I guess it was payback for what I put my Mum through. I also had two sons – my parents had three – and I have to say from experience that parenting daughters is much more challenging when they become teenagers. Sorry, girls, but it’s true!

Now my daughter is raising not one, but three sassy, strong willed young ladies, two of whom are twins who are just entering their teenage years. One good thing for my daughter that I didn’t really have is that the Father of her children is still with her and they parent together. Parenting teenagers is hard enough as a couple, but on your own can be a difficult and lonely time.

Children in their teenage years are wanting to exert their independence, to test boundaries, to find out who they are and what matters to them. My Mum and Dad lived a long way away from me when I was raising teenagers, so weren’t a regular part of my children’s lives. So, I didn’t have any grandparents to help and support me. As I have said before, since my diagnosis I am actively trying to be more a part of all my grandchildren’s lives and also support my daughter as she parents. This might be having them for the weekend or being there if she wants to sound off – OMG who hasn’t with teenagers – and lend a listening ear when things get tricky.

One thing I hope is that this condition stays under control long enough for me to be there through some of the challenges ahead. That I can be there to support my daughter and her family and that I don’t decline too soon so that I am another person my daughter has to worry about. I expect there will be times ahead when my granddaughters feel their parents are being unfair – I can remember thinking that myself when I was their age – and they may turn to us as grandparents for support. We always want to be there for them, but in a way that is respectful of their parents and the way that they parent them.

I also have a son, who has three sons of his own now. They live in another part of New Zealand, so unfortunately, I don’t have the same opportunities to be there for him and his young family. It is fortunate that he and his lovely wife have other grandparents in the same town to support them with their growing boys. I can’t be the same presence as a grandparent for his children, simply because I am too far away most of the time. But, I do try to still be there for them all as much as I can and to fly to Wellington to see them and build a relationship with them too.

Just the same as parents learn to parent with the birth of their children, so too do grandparents need to learn how to grandparent and what works for everyone’s needs. As the children grow, we all need to navigate our way through each age and stage and support each other and hopefully turn out good young people at the end of it all when they become adults.

My hope is that I will be fit enough and cognitively able for long enough to be there through the ‘hard yards’ of those teenage years. That my health allows me to see all of my six grandchildren grow into adulthood. That maybe someday I may have the pleasure of meeting their children and being a presence in their lives. For now, all I can do is be there for them in the here and now and continue to strengthen our bond so they know they have grandparents who love and support them. Parenting must be one of the hardest jobs in the world, with no manual and each child being different. Their parents will need support too to navigate the complexities of parenting teenagers.

With three young ladies growing on their way to adulthood, life will never be boring and there will be challenges, but as long as I can, I will do everything I can to show my love and support for them and their parents.

This weekend we have the three girls for three nights. We will cook together, bake together, perhaps go biking together and share moments talking rubbish in the spa pool. Building memories together to treasure and that for me is what being a grandparent is all about. Parkies or no Parkies, I still intend to keep being an active presence in their lives as long as I can.

Published by kiwipommysue

I work in health and have been with the same supportive team for over 7 years. They are all aware of my diagnosis and this helps tremendously especially while I get used to the idea of my diagnosis. My parents both had Parkinsons, so I guess my odds were higher than most.

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