I'm having a little dilemma at the moment.
When DO you let your Teenagers take responsibility for themselves? To leave them to make decisions and choices on their own?
TD has been at college for 3 weeks now. Her timetable is varied, time wise. For 3 days she starts at 8.40am, which means she leaves the house at about 8am, and 2 of these finish at about 1pm. The other 2 she has 11.10 starts, and these finish a little later, 3.15pm.
Almost every single day so far, she's not come back home until 9-10pm. I do get phone calls or texts, telling me she's going to a friends/meeting up with friends in town etc..
OK I thought, she's 16, I realise a strong social network IS important at this age, my addled brain does allow me to remember that much!
Also, it's good she's letting me know where she is. I ask if she wants a meal here or is she eating with friends & when will she be home? Just standard questions. Nothing interfering in those. So far almost all her meals have been eaten at about 11pm in the kitchen, whilst still 'texting' the friends she has just spent 7-8 hours with!
There's been little evidence of any coursework being done, and 2 of her courses are 'very heavy' on the coursework* front. I'm sure they must have given her some by now?? Although of course, when would she have time to do any coursework, what with all the socialising??
TD also complains at the moment about how unfair it is that a lot of her friends get EMA and she doesn't, so she has 'no' money. Erm...apart from all that money we hand out on a very regular basis.
If you're not aware of what EMA is, it's a Government initiative to get school leavers to attend Further Education in the form of a bribe to keep unemployment figures down. I'm sorry if I offend anyone by saying that, it's just my personal view. I know that's not what it's supposed to be about, its about helping families with lower incomes continue with Further Education, when possibly they would not have done so, due to financial constraints. But it seems to have changed into the very reason a lot of Teenagers actually go to college.
Basically, if a household income is under £30,000 a year, the student gets up to £30 a week (means tested) to attend college, and is based on attendance. The student has to have (not sure of the exact number) 90% attendance to claim it. This is tough for families getting just over the £30,000, as the student doesn't qualify for EMA, but they still have all the expense of College life.
So, as you can imagine, my suggestion of a part-time job for TD did not go down too well. Why should she go and get a job when lots of her friends get £30 a week for going to college, when she goes for nothing! Don't you just love the logic in that.....this is the opinion of one teenager, but I think it's the feeling of many who don't receive EMA. Gee.... thanks Government, for the encouraging 'Work Ethic' message you're promoting.
On the part-time job front, TD says her 'College recommends not getting a job in the 1st year'....presumably this is to do with the amount of coursework given..Hmm (*see above).
Or, of course, stupid me, it's to allow their students to fit in 8hrs of socialising a day!
Sorry, I've digressed a little.
Back to the dilemma.
I'd hoped that over the years, I'd given TD some guidance, enough to help her make informed choices for herself. And I do understand there is a transition stage, for us mere parents, of 'letting go' and allowing Teenagers to make their own mistakes. But how far should we let them go before saying something? Because at the moment, if I say anything I get accused of 'not giving her any responsibility'.
When your children are small, you wouldn't dream of letting them walk out in front of a car. You teach them about road safety, and watch them to make sure they've learnt. And you jump in bloody quick if they haven't. Eventually they learn, I know.
So for now I'm trying a little hands off parenting.
Trying not to put my twopence worth in. I did the 'its about balance, a bit of socializing, a bit of college work, maybe a part time job...balance' talk....that went down as well as you might expect!.....I seem to remember the words 'always telling me what to do and how to do it' were in there somewhere...
TD is not walking out in front of cars, not literally anyway, she's not a toddler. So I am trying to stand back, hands off, well to be honest, it's more like holding them clamped over my mouth, while she makes her own mistakes, and hopefully learns from them. But it is very hard.
This is definitely one of those times when you question your parenting skills.
Am I doing this right?...Wrong?
Who knows? Only time will tell...