Independence Day

pre-teen girlsThe big news at our house is that my daughter just lost her first tooth. The baby tooth is gone- making room for the adult one to take its place. And now there is a gap- a space- left open until the grown-up tooth grows fully into place. A change that takes place ever-so-slowly and yet will suddenly be complete.

And this reminds me of my son. Who just finished 6th grade. At 12, he is {at least in theory} 2/3rds of the way through his life here at home. 18 suddenly seems not so far away. The baby teeth of his youth are gone, but he hasn’t fully grown into adulthood.

He’s in the gap.

The gap is an interesting space. It needs to be held open in order for growth to take place. It reminds me of a childhood toy my husband had. A moveable contraption called a “push-me-pull-you”. This is the essence of the middle years. As we back away, handing more responsibility to him, we need to, at that same time, maintain and even step up our emotional closeness. Pushing one way, pulling another.

His new-found independence means he is becoming his own island nation. It means we spend less time together as he is making choices, thinking through options, finding solutions. It also means that during the time we do have together, I am aware of the need to fill it with a more intentional connection.

Like the fledgling years of a new country, the middle years of childhood are spent trying on new idea platforms, exploring new territories, formulating a personal bill of rights. As Queen, my rule As Mom, my role is to allow increased representation. To invite his voice, and decreasingly wield my influence. It is, hopefully, a smooth transition of power with as few border skirmishes as possible.

And while I can see clearly this framework for change, I don’t know where he is actually headed. I’m not sure he knows, either.

And so, we mind the gap.

Making sure that where there was rule now there is counsel. Where there were boundaries, there are now open fields.

And still, there is love.

So to all the parents of tweens, no matter what it says on the calendar, Happy Independence. How’s everyone’s constitution? Keep me posted.

About Emily McMason (23 Posts)

Emily McMason is a personal & parent coach. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Harvard University and Certification in Parent Coaching from the PCI at Seattle Pacific University. Connect with Emily, as well as read more of her reflections on parenting, at Evolving Parents.


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