So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

Dear world: they are not yours yet.

These adult-sized bodies are not for the taking.

I’m giving these teens permission to be kids for just a little while longer.

This summer I will keep roasting s’mores and pulling out the sprinkler and setting up epic ping pong tournaments. I will encourage late-night games of Ghost-in-the-Graveyard and offer Popsicles every chance I get. We will bike to the farmer’s market and watch fireworks from the back of our car.

Because although I’m getting my kids ready for the world, the world shouldn’t take away their childhood yet.

I don’t want to spend this summer talking about colleges and career paths. I don’t want to miss making memories because we were so caught up in creating a future. I want them to be able to start breaking away, without the pressure of having to be successful at it.

So, while the world pushes for super successful kids, pressuring children—and especially our teens—into pre-mature adults in an overly competitive landscape, I’m not letting the world take this summer from my kids.

My three daughters have plenty of years ahead of them to face the tasks and challenges of adulthood. Childhood, especially for teenagers, is a time to learn to relate to your friends, how to be part of a family, find hobbies and interests you love, and yes, even to play.

Yet, we push our kids to pursue academic and other competitive adult responsibilities even though their brains aren’t fully developed for these sorts of activities. We end up with kids who develop stress-related mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, and in certain situations, physical ailments such as ulcers.

It’s OK to encourage our kids to chase their dreams and push their limits, but it shouldn’t be to the detriment of their health or in place of developmentally-appropriate activities.

Our kids are entitled to this part of their life, and I won’t be the one to take it away.

And as their mom, I’ll try to be a good role model, too. I’ll try to participate in the bike rides, in the games, in the mess. Because sometimes I don’t do things because I forget how much fun they were when I was their age . . . how much fun they still are now.

So, the only thing I want my kids to master this summer is how to love the beautiful people they are becoming.

And if they pick up their room every once in a while, well, that would be great too.

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a freelance writer, and co-partner of the site parentingteensandtweens.com You can find her on Facebook at WhitneyFlemingWrites.

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