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I’m learning that when you are the parent of teens, you must become invisible in their presence, especially if any of their friends are around. This is really hard, as I spent years figuring out how to stop making myself invisible. I feel like I’m becoming smaller, disappearing from their lives, that I’m not really allowed to be part of their day-to-day stuff.

When your kids are in the car, you are to be a silent chauffeur. Don’t say a word, don’t ask any unnecessary questions, don’t comment on their conversation, don’t greet their friends, don’t even let them know you’re there. Above all, don’t even consider singing along to the music as you normally do. Just drive, wherever they need you to drive. You are an “old person” and not the least bit cool, so just keep anything you have to say to yourself. You can tell your spouse about it later, and whine over wine with your friends.

Pretend you don’t notice your kid is on her phone. Don’t ask who’s texting her, or what her friends are up to. You aren’t even supposed to know their friends’ names most of the time. Don’t acknowledge you’re aware who’s on what team at school, or who is dating whom. They seem to forget my friends – whose kids are in the same school – post status updates and photos all the time, and that sometimes, I actually have MORE information than they do. So there!

I have learned if you’re a silent observer, and can become invisible in their world, you hear more and see more. I’ve learned that sometimes, if you play your cards right and their friends aren’t around to witness it, they will actually talk to you. They might even talk about their day during dinner. If all the stars align in just the right way, they might – SHOCKER! – sit on the couch and watch a game or movie with  you. Very, very occasionally, they might allow you to hug them (just don’t even dream of that happening in the school parking lot when, “SOMEONE MIGHT SEE!”)

I keep finding myself struggling against these restraints. I know – we complain for years how needy our kids are, then suddenly they want us to essentially disappear, and we complain all over again. I don’t like having to be invisible. I’m used to being smack in the middle of their lives. I like knowing everything that’s going on. But now, I find myself telling myself, multiple times a day, to keep my mouth closed, and to become invisible.

They come back from this stage, right? At some point, I’ll be able to be a real, talking person around them? Tell me I won’t have to be invisible forever……

9 thoughts on “Invisible

  1. I don’t have this. If I did, I’d probably embarrass them beyond their wildest dreams. We both would. We’re loud like that.
    I think it was more like this with the boy one, but none of my girls were/are like that — the affection, the secrecy, that’s more my son. He’s a private person, and he tells us the important stuff. It took us a long time to understand if he doesn’t talk about it, he doesn’t think it’s important.
    And you can be certain you know more. They realize you know more as soon as they go out into the world by themselves.
    “Mom, did you know apartments require pet deposits?!”
    “Mom, did you know breast milk separates in the fridge?!”
    Psh, remember? Haha! You’ll never be cool, but you’ll be revered 😉

    • It’s actually more my daughter than my oldest son. Is that odd? I find myself at a loss much of the time.
      I’m REALLY looking forward to the time they call and apologize. Hahaha

      • Maybe she’s just very private? Anyway, like all the other phases, probably won’t last. If it does, you’ll still know more 🙂

      • She spends a LOT of time in her room. And rolls her eyeballs a ton. It could be worse I guess – my sister was awful to my parents as a teen.

  2. I promise you’ll lose your cloak of invisibility by about 18-19 and you’re really going to miss it. Be grateful you’ll get the chance to use it again.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  3. I’m no expert, but in my experience it’s a phase when young teens haven’t gotten comfortable with social conversation with a different generation. What I did was ask questions when friends would get into the car or come to the house, simple things like how they were, if they had a good holiday, did they enjoy the movie, etc. Maybe even compliment them on a new haircut or coat. Soon, the kid’s friends would even take a minute when they arrived to come say, hi, before the teens would disappear for their visit. Making your kid’s friends comfortable around you is the key. Hang in there, but don’t become distant, invisible, just take baby steps.

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