Last week my 15-year-old daughter gave me a taste of all the letting-go that I will face over the next few years, as she stayed for a week in Minnesota. For two days after saying goodbye I was relatively at ease about her 1000-mile distance from us. I knew what she'd be doing--visiting childhood friends, visiting her grandparents and other relatives, and maybe going out for ice cream or pizza here and there. Then she dropped the bomb on me: "Clair's going to take me to Valleyfair tomorrow." Uhhh...with what chaperone? I wanted to ask. But I didn't ask, because I knew. Clair had her driving license, now. There was no more need for a mom and dad to transport them and act as third wheel. I swallowed and hesitated, unsure how to respond. What does a mom say at this point in her teen's life, when freedom is just beginning to unlock her doors? Where do I draw the line, now, when she is the size of a full-grown adult and has friends who can drive? Honestly?
I have no clue.
Her battering ram continues to bang at freedom's doors, and I have the sinking feeling it will not be letting up anytime soon. Yesterday it was going down on the light-rail to Elitch's with a group of friends. Today it is frozen yogurt and a movie with friends. What do I do? I can't chaperone, myself. I have three other kids to care for. So where is the line, and how do I know when it is time help her open those freedom doors a little farther and when to tighten the lock?
Helping her choose edifying, age-appropriate books and movies presents me with the same dilemma, too, and I have a confession to make. I'm starting to cave. In my bewilderment over this growing-up business, I've passed her off to her father all three times: Valleyfair, Elitch's, and the movie. He's more level-headed than I am, and besides, he's the dad, right? Surely, it's his job! Or maybe not. I don't know. I do know, though, that I'm a pushover. The other day at the libarary I agreed to let her read The Luxe (see review), because I couldn't spot anything else on the shelves that struck me as "safe". I enjoyed the book very much, but it's really best for older teens. Aargh. Could it be that I will make a mess of parenting a teen? Or is this what all parents go through with teens who turn out just fine?
I wish I knew for sure when I am crossing the line and betraying our family's values, when I am making unacceptable compromises with our faith. Fortunately, though, there is One who loves her more than I do. So I guess I can see this in a different light. I can let her growing-up keep me anxious and always second-guessing myself. Or I can see it as another opportunity to prayerfully trust in His guidance and in His ability to mitigate any messes I might make of this parenting thing.