This is the first post in our new feature where we profile one of our readers. We’re starting with someone who has been with us from the very early days. Mimbles is a wonderful contributor to The Kids Are All Right community in general and the forum in particular. When Mimbles gives advice, shares her experiences or comments on a post, you can be sure it will always be very considered and beautifully written.
So what’s the Mimbles’ story?
Hi, I’m Mim – mimbles is my family nickname from childhood, my Dad and brother still use it. 🙂 I’m 42 years old (yes, the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything) and on February 1st this year my husband Adam and I will have been married for 21 years. We have three kids, a Mr15, a Ms14 and a Mr11 and we five humans cohabit with a dog, two cats, three fish (I think, I haven’t counted lately) and six rabbits. The rabbit count is due to an unplanned population explosion, there was supposed to be only two.
“We took up historical re-enactment as a family activity and I was forced to suppress my loathing of sewing and team up with my husband to clothe all five of us in Viking outfits”
I work part time, three half days a week, as the subscriptions manager for a small magazine publisher. Before taking on that job I’d been 11 years out of the paid workforce doing the stay at home mum thing and I collected a few hobbies during that time. We took up historical re-enactment as a family activity and I was forced to suppress my loathing of sewing and team up with my husband to clothe all five of us in Viking outfits. I did a course in lampwork glass bead making and was given a bead making kit for a Mother’s Day present, I indulged my love of pretty rocks and started making jewellery, and I learned how to tablet weave at one of the re-enactment events and became addicted.
Adam also collects hobbies: remote control model boats, amateur rocketry, remote control model aeroplanes, carpentry, wood carving, blacksmithing, pole-lathe wood-turning, leather working, pottery and home brewing. Consequently our double garage does not have room for cars.
Just in case you get the impression that I’m always busy being creative and making stuff, rest assured that I spend far more of my leisure time reading sci-fi, fantasy and historical romances, watching geeky tv series and mucking around on the internet!
Back in 2006 I started a blog and named it Mim’s Muddle, it seemed an appropriate moniker for somewhere that would record bits of my life. It’s been a bit neglected lately, mostly because I don’t write much when I’m stressed and we’ve been renovating the house for the last year.
What is your greatest challenge parenting your teenagers?
To find my way between honouring who they are with all their individual quirks and wanting to “fix” them.
It’s a theme that pops up in all sorts of areas.
Ms14 is a very fussy eater so I’m always looking for the balance between respecting her food preferences and encouraging her to be more adventurous, both for health and social reasons.
“My greatest challenge is to find my way between honouring who they are with all their individual quirks and wanting to ‘fix’ them”
Mr15 is very reclusive and I worry about his lack of engagement with his peers, but then I see how well he socialises with older people and how great he is with our friends’ younger kids. He’s not anti-social as such, he just hasn’t found anyone he wants to spend much time with. I have to keep reminding myself that he’ll find his people eventually – possibly when some of his peers grow up a bit!
Ms14 wants to wear high heels and makeup all the time; I want her knees, hips, back and tendons to stay undamaged and her makeup not to be wasted on days spent at home. But I know it’s a response to a lifetime of people thinking she’s 2 or 3 years younger than she is and commenting on her height.
“I choose my battles carefully because my ability to persuade him to step outside his comfort zone is rooted in promises I’ve made that I will never ask of him something he can’t manage.”
Mr15 has an anxiety disorder and will almost always say no to pretty much any suggestion of doing something new. I choose my battles carefully because my ability to persuade him to step outside his comfort zone is rooted in promises I’ve made that I will never ask of him something he can’t manage. One day it will no longer be up to me to make that judgement and I can only hope that when that time comes we’ll have done enough groundwork that he’ll be able to choose to challenge himself.
How would you describe your parenting style? How does this differ to how you were parented or how friends parent their teens?
I don’t know what my parenting style is! (You have to read that in a voice of slightly despairing bewilderment.) I don’t have a label for what I do and I’ve never been able to answer that question. I’ll take ideas from all sorts of parenting theories, whatever makes sense and seems to work, but mostly I’m just making it up as I go. My one underlying philosophy is that kids are human beings, whose lives belong to them and no one else, who have rights and responsibilities appropriate to their ages, and that my job as a parent is to guide them safely to the point of having adult rights and responsibilities.
“My one underlying philosophy is that kids are human beings, whose lives belong to them and no one else, who have rights and responsibilities appropriate to their ages”
I don’t really have any friends’ parenting of teens to compare my own to, as nearly all of them have kids younger than mine. As for what my parents did, I don’t think we’re all that different and I do know that my mum reckons I’m doing an ok job. We’re very much on the same page when it comes to parenting ideas and she’s one of my very few sounding boards when I’m trying to work through some of the tricky stuff.
What’s the greatest thing about parenting teens?
The best thing about parenting teens is seeing them grow up. I can’t wait to meet the adults my kids will become. Plus, they make me cups of tea, cook and even clean up the house sometimes. Breeding minions is a long term investment but it pays off eventually.
Please share with us one rule, guideline or boundary you have with your teens, and what happens if they break it.
I won’t tolerate behaviour or speech that lacks empathy for others. Violations of this rule result in lecturing, sometimes quite vehement lecturing. Yeah, I’m not much for punishments, unless you count boredom at having to listen to Mum hold forth at length on the subject of “how would you feel?” as punitive.
What’s the greatest piece of advice you would give a parent whose child is nearing the teen years?
I was always a bit bemused by the apprehension that so many parents have about their kids becoming teens. When my kids were young I used to ask my mum (who was a high school history teacher) whether I was deluded thinking that the stereotype of teens always being implacably at odds with their parents was not, in fact, inevitable. I found it very reassuring that her answer was no, I was not deluded, that she hadn’t found that to be the case with me or my siblings (good, my memory works just fine!) and that her experience of teens at school was that the majority of them were perfectly sane and lovely human beings.
“I love reading stuff that celebrates the good things about teens, the ordinary, everyday good stuff as well as amazing achievements from kids with talent and passion”
What are the top 3 issues of concern or interest for you as a parent of teenagers? What would you like to read more about on The Kids Are All Right?
I love reading stuff that celebrates the good things about teens, the ordinary, everyday good stuff as well as amazing achievements from kids with talent and passion. The “My Teen Hung Up Her Towel” and congratulating teens threads on the forum are great. Good stuff doesn’t always generate much discussion but I think it’s important that it be there if only to give people hope!
Mental health issues – the more they are talked about the better. Understanding of mental health issues can save lives through knowing the signs to look out for, reducing stigma and better provision of help.
Media for teens – websites, books, blogs, magazines, podcasts, youtube channels, tv shows, games – what are the really great places to go for empowering, entertaining, socially aware media? Stuff like Rookie magazine, triplej’s Hack, Visibility Fiction.
What do you like about being part of The Kids Are All Right community?
I came across The Kids Are All Right when the forums were just starting up, I thought it looked like a great idea with the potential to become a valuable resource for parents so I decided to hang around and see how it would turn out. (I reckon it’s well on its way to fulfilling that potential.) I don’t have many close friends with kids the same age as mine, offline or online, so I don’t get to have much by way of “parenting a teen” conversations. It’s nice to read other people’s perspectives on things and I’m a big fan of getting to know people online, I’ve made lots of wonderful friends that way.
If you’d like to connect with Mimbles and other parents and talk about raising teenagers and lots of other non-parenting related topics (because we do have a life outside our children 🙂 ), visit The Kids Are All Right forum.
Do you have a parenting philosophy or guiding principal?
Are you making it up as you go along?