Communication and Teaching Responsibility to a Teen

Happy Sunday my friends!

It’s been another beautiful week, and I’m still flying high on the Spring vibes. I don’t think I realized just how negatively the winter affects me until it started to warm up again. I’ve planted my Spring garden, chipped and vacuumed up the lingering leaves, cut back my rose bushes, trimmed up the shrubs, and prepared my beds for mulch. I’ve also swapped out my closet – moving all of my winter clothing to the rack in the basement and bringing my warmer weather clothes up to my room, with just a few sweaters still hanging around.

I’ve been busy adding pieces to my wardrobe for Spring and Summer too, including a couple of new bathing suits, ahead of our June family vacation trip to Savannah and Tybee Island. There is so much to look forward to, especially now that vaccines are going out and COVID is going down. They’ve even lifted the mask order here in my town, which might be a bit premature yet but is a very positive sign of some normalcy to come.

This week in food:

That’s it, I give up! I’m sorry friends, I just can’t seem to remember to take photos of our meals on weeknights! I get pictures of the dishes I meal prep on weekends, and occasionally even remember to snap a photo of my lunch. But I get busy making dinner for the fam and the last thing on my mind is pausing to take pictures (it takes time to set up a scene and snap lots of photos to get that perfect one). I’ll share the week’s photos with you here, and I’ll share the meal plan. There just won’t be photos for everything on the plan. This is my weakness, and I’ve accepted it!

The Meal Plan

The Photos

Life & Things

I’m probably really late to the game on this one, but I’ve discovered Brene Brown. I know, I know…old news by now. But I never did get around to checking out the hype until an Instagram post led me to some podcasts, which took me to my library’s Overdrive app where I placed holds on her audio books. Two have already become available – I finished one and am in the middle of the other.

I’ve gone through so much personal growth in my life over the last several years that sometimes it feels like I’ve nothing left to learn – which is never true! I’ve discovered several things in her books that are new perspectives for me and are changing the way I look at things, why I do things, and how I can look at and do things differently to be the best mom/girlfriend/friend/family member possible. There is something about the idea of becoming my best self that always keeps me thirsty for new information, and open to putting it into practice.

There is something to be said for our default settings. We can read, listen and watch all we want…but when it comes down to it, our brains go into auto-pilot and we default right back to what we know and where we’re comfortable. It takes lots of work, conscious effort and practice to change that default setting, but I never met a challenge I didn’t look forward to taking head-on.

Brene’s work is teaching me new things about communication…something I thought I was already pretty well-versed in. How to ask questions, get more details, not make assumptions or “make up stories” due to lack of information. I think my favorite thing in the current book I’m listening to, Daring to Lead, is asking “what done looks like”. An example she gave that I just heard last night, was when someone asked her to gather up all the invoices and have them ready by 4:00. She said okay, no problem, and completed the task. But when she handed them over, he was frustrated because it wasn’t what he needed.

He needed invoices going all the way back to 2005, but he hadn’t specified that and she didn’t ask for more information, so they both ended up frustrated. By asking “what does done look like”, in other words, what do you need me to do for this task to be considered done, it opens up communication that allows you to work together and bounce ideas off of each other so that each person is set up for success and can get it right. I realized this is something I’ve witnessed in my own organization. What someone expects and what they actually ask for don’t always line up, and when they get frustrated it leaves me thinking “well I’m not a mind-reader!”

The book has given me a lot of ideas on how to more effectively communicate at work. But it’s also given me a lot of ideas for how to handle communication in my personal relationships, too.

My oldest son, Hunter, is 16 now. He’s had his driver’s license for about a month, we have a checking account opened up for him, and he just started his new job at a local pizza place on Friday. In two years he will be legally an adult, and I’ve recognized the need for him to outgrow his childhood – which frankly breaks my heart to even think about – and start taking on some adult responsibilities. He has a job, a car, a checking account, and just filled out his first tax forms yesterday before leaving for his second day of work. Like it or not, adult responsibilities are here and he needs to know how to manage them.

It’s hard to think about, because I know that once you become an adult, enter the workforce and take on responsibilities, there is no going back. The freedom of being a child and getting to play all the time with no responsibilities is over, and I feel sad at the loss of those childhood days for him. I feel even worse that I’m going to be that “bad guy” who forces him to give it up and start moving into adulthood. But I also know that it’s the right thing to do, because the time has come for it to be necessary. He needs to be prepared for adult life, and it’s my job as a parent to prepare him.

He came home from work Friday night and said that since he’s working Saturday evening he’s planning on hanging out with friends in the morning (the kid never gets out of bed before noon on a Saturday!). He asked me to make sure he gets up at 8:30. I thought about it for a second, then I said “you have a cell phone, set yourself an alarm.” He said if he did he’d just sleep through it. I took the opportunity to tell him that he’s becoming an adult now and he’s not going to have me to make sure he gets out of bed every morning, he needs to learn to do that for himself.

When Saturday morning came, I heard him up at 8 in the bathroom. I thought well good, he’s gotten himself up. But then he went back to bed and I didn’t hear from him again until after noon when I got home from dropping Logan off at Grandma’s house. He asked why I didn’t get him up. I said “I told you that if you wanted to be up by 8:30 that you need to set an alarm and get yourself up. If you chose not to do that, that’s on you. You were up at 8 and you went back to bed. If you wanted to do something with friends you should have stayed up.”

Just before leaving for work he complained about how his whole day was wasted and he didn’t get to do anything. I pointed out that he was going to need to make adjustments to account for this new step in his life. Stop staying up until 4am and sleeping until noon, make plans with friends for during the day, then be home on time to be ready to leave for work at 3:45.

I’m seeing this week that he has a lot to learn about responsibility, and he’s going to need clear communication from me about what responsibility looks like and what will be expected of him. He is starting to learn already, though. He woke up at 8 again this morning, and he stayed up because he didn’t want to waste his day off. That’s one lesson learned already, but I need to tackle with him both time and money management.

It’s a little overwhelming to think about, because I feel like this stage snuck up on me. We spent so much time focusing on his permit and driving hours and getting his license, that we didn’t really think about what all comes with it. Now here we are – a whole new side of this parenting coin. I’m confident, though, that all will go well. He’s a good kid and he’s plenty smart enough to figure it all out.

If you have experience with this stage of parenting, please leave me any tips or advice in the comments! Otherwise, I wish you a lovely and relaxing Sunday. I’ll talk to you again soon!