I was prompted to write about this subject my lovely blogging and now real life friend Sarah from Mum of Three World.
Sarah is mum to 3 teenagers aged 13, 15 and 17. Her blogging journey has documented her family life and it's been great reading about their exploits as a family over the past few years and watching the children grow.
For me as a mum of 5 whose full time parenting journey ended in 2013, with the youngest child returning to the UK to complete his schooling while we lived in South Africa, who is also turning 20 later this month, I will no longer own a teenager. I've owned teenagers for 16 years. It's been great knowing that I've not been alone as Sarah discusses issues with leaving her children at home, parties and alcohol and part time jobs.
These things I've been through myself as a parent and it can be fairly lonely. I have few friends my age with children at similar stages in their lives as I had my first child aged 20 and at 47 now collecting 2 step children some 20 years ago also, I've really benefited from blogging and creating a support network with people, like Sarah who I now know in real life.
Sarah has found herself in a situation that I also reached a few years ago where my kids said 'no more blogging' 'no photos' and I had to respect that, but then I came to realise there was a way around it. The things my kids did had an impact on my life, I needed to respect their privacy, but I also needed an outlet for the way I was feeling. So naming my children child 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 helped, not posting pictures without their permission and running blog posts past them first, with an explanation as to why I was writing them helped immensely and these days the kids now all adults would be deeply offended if I didn't celebrate their success online.
Of course I removed personal details, I still ask first for permission to post, like writing about our Daughter in law and I make sure before I share any of their news online, that they've already shared it.
I want to be able to talk about their engagements. weddings, visits to see us and us to them. It's part of my life that I'm sharing. I talked openly about Empty Nest Syndrome, having a child in boarding school which was published in the Daily Mail A 'no photo' rule was enforced by child 5.
Over the years I've added more sections to my blogging. I talk about my charity work in South Africa, write monthly gardening and home posts, blog about our travel experiences, the cat and dog feature heavily in my blog posts as does our daily lives living abroad as expats and more recently my physical health and dental implant surgery.
There are loads of posts sitting in 'drafts' that I want to publish but am waiting for permission to do so, it will involve face to face conversations, when I feel the time is right.
Sarah has kindly offered that people who have sensitive subjects to write about can share anonymously over on her blog and I think it's a great idea and I will taking her up on the offer, although having told you this I will now have to alter my style of writing.
I will carry on writing about family life and teenagers and look forward to sharing my journey as a grand parent when the times comes. There's a trip to Australia to visit child 3 later this year, child 4 is getting married in September. I will be writing posts about these events. I will continue to write new posts in retrospect about the teenage years, we have a profoundly disabled daughter whose needs constantly change and we have issues with her care providers from time to time that I will also discuss as it is all still a huge part of my/our life.
We may have stopped parenting, but it doesn't mean we don't have things to discuss about our children still.
I also have a lot of experience working as a youth worker in the 90's, child protection officer in the 00's and as a teacher with special needs in primary, secondary and 16+ with many examples I can share as a family support worker also, tackling underage pregnancy, abuse and neglect, disability, drugs and alcohol. I don't have to use personal experiences of my own family to be able to support and help others.
But for now, i'll leave you with a picture of our furbabies, who have filled the gap between parenting and empty nest nicely over the past few years.
Finally, Sharon from After the playground has a post with some tips on writing about teens and a list of fellow bloggers to follow. I won't rewrite it, I'll just leave the link here and you can explore it yourself.