One of my parenting goals for 2023 is to be mindful of changing my job title from "Mom the Manager" to "Mom the Consultant" for my oldest child. At 17 years old and a junior in high-school, the reality that my son is almost legally an adult is hitting me.
My son deals with ADHD (and is very open with sharing that with others). As a result of weaknesses in certain executive functioning skills, over the years I've become accustomed to operating sort of like his "manager".
He struggled with time management, so I helped keep him on track.
He forgot things, so I doubled checked on them and reminded him.
He got distracted easily, so I adjusted things to help with attention.
He procrastinated on big projects, so I helped him break them down.
and so on, and so on...
All of these things had their time and place. But now, his skills are improving. His time management, active memory, attention and task initiation are getting better. I need to adjust my role from being his "manager", the one who makes sure it all gets done right, and on time... to being there as a "consultant". As a consultant I can still be present for him, but I also need to step back and allow him to take full ownership.
Maybe that sounds easy to you, but it's taking lots of mindfulness for me to change roles. Of course, it's easy when I think things are going well, and he's "managing" effectively. It's much much harder when I feel like his use (or misuse) of time is leading towards unpleasant results for him.
If you have an older child, and feel like you might want to move into the role of "consultant", rather than "manager" here are a few things that are helping me.
1. Talk to your teen/ young adult
I told my son, "I know you're ready to be in the driver's seat of your own life, but I keep wanting to reach over and grab the "steering wheel". I'm working on being here for you more as a consultant that micro-managing you. I'm going to slip up, so feel free to remind me of this."
2. Stay connected.
Being a consultant doesn't mean I'm done parenting or that there are no rules in our home that need to be followed.
3. Allow for failures.
This one is hard for me. I don't like to see my kids fail, and yet I know that so much of what we learn in life comes from failures or set backs. Instead of jumping in to "save the day" when problems happen, encourage your teen to problem solve. Maybe say something like, "Hmmm, what options are you considering?" or "wow, that sounds tough, what are your thoughts?"
4. Connect with things YOU love
If you're an excellent "manager" for a child/teen who is ready to have you move into the "consultant" role, you both will benefit by you investing your additional time and energy into something you enjoy. Is there an activity or hobby you've wanted to try, or that you used to love? Maybe now is the time to dust off those scrap booking skills, join a book club, or start taking walks. You will have more time for your interests when you are in the role of consultant rather than a manager for your teen. When I find myself feeling the need to "manage" when I should step back, it helps me to pour into something that I'm excited about.
If you have a school-aged child with ADHD and are wanting to help support your child and encourage skill building, check out this mini-course: