Parenting Teens Is More Guiding and Advising Than Controlling
My love affair with the ocean began in my teens when my parents became friends with a man who soon became family. He had a boat that he used for pleasure and chartering small fishing trips. Breaking his long-standing rule of “No women on the boat,” he invited the family out for an afternoon (of four family members, three of us are female) and it didn’t take long for weekend boat trips to become a regular occurrence.
I loved these trips from the start. My favorite spot was sitting on the bow, watching the waves before us, feeling the wind toss my hair and the spray wash over my body. It took no more than minutes for me to get my “sea legs” and I was quickly dubbed First Mate.
While my favorite spot was bow riding, I also occasionally took a turn steering. We often went out into the Atlantic and naturally used landmarks along the shore to navigate home. One of these was the Barnegat Lighthouse. While out on open water, it was easy to see. As we got closer to land, we shifted direction to our home port.
I’ve always admired the architectural beauty of lighthouses and over the years, became a fan. In our current home, I have a photo wall of those I have visited or admired from the water. I recently tried to pinpoint when my fascination with these structures began. Looking at my photos, I realized that it may have corresponded to my early years parenting a teenager. Thinking about it, this makes sense.
A lighthouse is strong, to withstand the impacts of intense storms. It is there to warn of danger and to light the way. Those who pay attention can be guided to safety, those who do not (or worse, ignore warnings) will end up in a dangerous situation they may be ill equipped to handle. Some acknowledge the danger, but think they are smart enough/strong enough/lucky enough to manage the situation. (Sometimes they are right.) Still others try to heed the warnings, but get caught up in the maelstrom anyway.
Sounds a bit like a parent, doesn’t it?