I don’t feel I’ve been a parent for eight innings, yet here we are, heading into the ninth and last inning of public school. Of course, the ninth inning isn’t the end of the parenting game; we have many more games and post-season to head into. But senior year of high school carries the possibility that my child may be leaving the dugout of our home and only returning seasonally. My son may be ready to hit a homer and run off the field, but I am not.
Along with this unreadiness comes the realization that my child is at the stage of teen life where he needs to be independent and be able to make more complex decisions on his own. We’ve shared space together for over 18 years, and the next stage of life requires Mom not always to be there. The next year will be about showing love and support but doing it as I sit on the bench instead of being on the field with my player.
How do we get here, to a place where we are both ready for the next stage? I’m letting the game of baseball lead me into the last inning: senior year.
- Getting up to bat is nerve-wracking. I have to let my kid have new experiences with new people. I’ll encourage getting out there and becoming proficient in newness.
- There will be successes and failures. As in all stages of childhood. We have to let our kids fail as much as they succeed. The game goes on. I must let the failures happen, especially now, and let my child face adversity. The successes will be because of the success of my kid alone. How awesome is that feeling? I won’t interfere.
- Efforts go far. Letting older teens see the effects of their efforts helps boost self-esteem. Mom needs to hold tight on the bench and let the player understand their own work ethic and how that correlates to improved outcomes.
- Trust. This is a hard one! Trust the player and that you’ve coached the best you could for the last eight innings.
- Keep your eye on the ball. Let the kid set their own priorities. Parenting thus far has involved ensuring our children check all the boxes of development and school readiness. Now is the time for the child to take the lead and manage their own goals.
- Work as a team. We will always be on the same team, no matter what, where, or who the other players are. I’ve got my kid’s back, and we will work as a team whenever he needs me. Finishing the game doesn’t mean we aren’t a team any longer. Mommyhood is forever. I want my kids to know this as they leave the dugout.
I should say that none of this is new parenting beginning senior year of high school, but I will concentrate on these elements with my son for the next 12 months.