Parenting Teens: Vigilant Waiting

Today my dear friend–one of the Italian Mamas–calls to remind me of my primary task as a parent of teens.

She calls it “vigilant waiting.”

She instructs me about the fine of art of waiting with careful attention to dangers or difficulties in the life of a teen and remaining fully available when the time comes for conversation, assistance, or comforting measures.

“Now is not the time for more work away from your family. Your work is here now in the form of vigilant waiting.”

We talk about how it feels like wasted time and so unproductive to stay available in the house (near but not too near) for whatever needs arise. You simply cannot predict when and how you’ll be needed by teenagers.

For years, the original Italian Mama told me this truth. She told me I’d be tempted to fill all the time freed up by independent and self-reliant teens with new activity and new career development. But resisting that urge and making the choice to stay vigilantly available represents the wisdom of mothers who have gone before me.

So I hang around the kitchen. I’m preparing dinner. I’m writing a blog. I’m here. 

They move in and out like sea creatures, like anemones sometimes open and sometimes closed. I’m here, as constant as the ocean, embracing whatever needs to happen within this space.

I’m thankful for Italian Mamas who shine a light on the parenting path ahead.

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