Sunday, May 23, 2010

Endings and Beginnings

Soon our youngest child will turn 16 and be getting a drivers license. We've been practicing for months, and she is so ready to drive herself and enjoy being more independent. For me, it's the bittersweet end of an era in parenting. Countless hours of drop-offs and pick-ups for school, activities, lessons, and birthday parties. I figure conservatively I've logged 20 joyful years of parenting moments in the car.

It's been such a good time to talk. Well, actually, it has been a progression from Radio Disney and the kids in the backseat, I spy ,and car games, to each child happily reaching the size requirement to get promoted to ride shot gun next to me in the front. It's been a great opportunity to connect, comfortably side by side, about school , friends, and life. There have been frustrating moments with teenagers at times........ running dangerously close to tardy by cutting the morning margins close. Now that I'm down to the last few driving days, though, I think I'm going to miss the time together at the start of the day.

When the oldest child starts college, you adjust and refocus on the younger ones at home who still need your hands-on parenting. When the youngest child clears a developmental milestone, like driving herself or a first job, mom and dad have to move along, too. I know that our job as parents is to work ourselves out of a job. I have shared that with parents I see in my counseling practice for years. It's important for teens to feel capable and do as much for themselves as possible. That's where self-esteem comes from---feeling you can handle things.

So, we make another transition as a family. One more new driver on the streets of Orange County. I get to adjust my daily choreography as well. I might not need to get up as early. Maybe I'll take up some new hobby as my 20 years of driving children comes to an end. I will need to look for more creative ways to connect with our teens, because they don't need me for rides.
I think I will always look back with fondness and warm memories about the chapter of parenting that took place in my car.

(Note: This blog attached to my counseling office web-site is one of my new activities now that I am driving less. If you wish to follow it, I will post my observations about building strong families, increasing intimacy in love relationships, parenting tips, and share reviews on related books. I plan to post on Mondays.)

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