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Education Begins With The Parents

[Yeah, yeah;  the next couple of weeks are parents...then it gets interesting...] 

The Parental Pardox

The Parental Paradox is that the moment of purest joy and pure grief for parents is the same moment: When you realize that the kid doesn't need you anymore. In a lot of ways, it's the day that you work towards as a parent, but the realization that you aren't needed anymore wouldn't sit well with anyone.  Puberty marks the biggest leap to that moment, and is the sign that the time relatively peaceful days of parenting are almost over. In other words, if you think things are chaotic now, just realize that you will soon remember the current situation as the "Good Old Days".Marks measuring height will soon be replaced by countdowns until when they go to college.

Too many parents feel guilty about wanting to get rid of kids. You've spent a lot of time and effort raising the kid, and now you want to have nothing to deal with him. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT THIS. It's a perfectly natural part of being a parent. You're going to feel that the kid is leaving you, and you may resent that. Some parents deal with this by taking more control over the kid's life; if you do react that way, note it and back away. The more control you take, the more he will depend on you as an adult, the less functional of an adult he will be, and aren't you trying to raise him to a functional adult?

The kid should be making more of his own decisions, and if you prevent him from making those decisions, you're hampering his ability to make decisions as an adult. Your kid should be making more decisions, and you should be encouraging him to do so. Don't be afraid to advise him, but try to limit your advice to when asked for it. Obviously, don't be offended if that advice isn't always asked for; he needs practice making decisions on his own, and he won't always be able to ask your advice. More importantly, you may not be the best person to ask, and it's good to see that he is looking for people that can actually help him.

That independence is what you are trying to instill in him. It's just part of the way things work out; you will find, if you haven't already, that not controlling the kid is a big part of parenting. You should now be helping to push him ever so slightly out of the nest, not pull him to the center of it.

Changing Expectations

A major issue that will come up is that your expectations need to change, as the boy's abilities are radically changing. In other words, he's capable of far more at thirteen than he was at ten; his technical skills are going to phenomenally increase as he realizes that the computer isn't just a research tool, and that he can learn to drive in a few years. He's also stronger, faster, sturdier and capable of concentrating longer than he could just a few years ago, once you allow for daydreaming (and you know you can't help smile a bit when you read that!). Look at it this way: He may be capable of using that power mower now that he couldn't a few years ago. That his abilities are changing means that you need to recognize that, no matter how nervous it may make you.

As a parent, you need to challenge your son in order to properly raise him; even if he messes up, would you rather him mess up now, or when you have no ability to slap him if he screws up? You need to allow for increasing amounts of responsibility, and holding him to those responsibilities will make him more likely to respect you, especially when he starts realizing that those responsibilities are actually important. After all: You are no longer at the stage where he will respect merely for bringing home the bacon; he's at the stage where he will respect you more when you respect him. You need to learn to enjoy that he doesn't need you as much, as it allows you to do other things that actually do require your notice (like other kids or starting that internet business you were thinking about).

Realize that his capabilities are changing, and respect those changes, or you will make things more difficult. The road ahead is going to bumpy enough; why add speed bumps?