The delicate balancing act of parenting the older teen/young adult. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 31 Old 08-18-2009, 11:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Anyone else going thru this?

We have an 18 yr ds, and for the past couple years we've really tried to change our parenting with him. To accept he's his own person, with his own thoughts and decisions to make about his life but at the same time still parenting him as he is still a child in many ways, and well, our child.

Its so draining at times. Wanting to keep them safe, and from any harm, emotional, or otherwise. And at the same time, letting them go, watching them make decisions you dont think are going to work out well, and holding them when they come back after things *do* turn badly, but without telling them, "I told you so".

They are still your child. No matter how old they get. And even though they may be 18, it certainly doesnt make them an adult, any more than a baby turning one is ready to wean. But they are growing up, and becoming adults, arent they?

Sigh.

Such a fragile tightrope to walk, isnt it?

I'm just looking for others in the same situation to walk the tightrope with me.
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#2 of 31 Old 08-18-2009, 12:27 PM
 
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We haven't gotten there yet, but my good friend has. She loved her times with her kids as teens, but found those late teens/early twenties years the toughest. She said it was so hard to have the same worries but not really be able to say much. Her kids are now all wonderful, responsible, happy adults and she is enjoying her grandchildren. So hang in there, it will get better!
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#3 of 31 Old 08-18-2009, 12:47 PM
 
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Oh, yes, I hear you! My oldest will be 20 in October, my second will be 18 in about 3 weeks. 18 is the legal drinking age here and he's already planning a night out on the town : Thankfully the oldest is a real home body and rarely goes out drinking or partying.

It is SO hard letting go and letting them make their own mistakes.
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#4 of 31 Old 08-18-2009, 12:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Exactly! Nothing has changed for me - I still worry about the same things, yet I need to respect them as their own person (in a different way that you do with an 8yr old) and watch as they make their own *huge* decisions.

It was easier when all you had to do was let them pick out their own outfit to wear to give them autonomy, lol. Now you have to remind them, dont let your drink out of sight at the bar/club and drink lots of water to avoid hangovers, dont get behind the wheel or with someone who's been drinking, etc. Flippin nervewrecking. Remember when the worst they could do was wear sweaters and rubber boots in the middle of heat waves? I miss those days.

So, how do we survive this phase?
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#5 of 31 Old 08-18-2009, 01:37 PM
 
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I'm not sure yet - I have a 15 year old daughter to get through it too!

I think this is the time of their life when the foundation we laid for them as they grew up pays benefits. Being able to talk to them is SO important. Knowing they want us not to worry, and doing what they can (or remember ) to do to let us know what's going on, helps for me. My kids are really good about letting me know what's going on. Plus looking back on my own teenager-hood, they've got their heads screwed on better than I had mine, and I take comfort in that!
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#6 of 31 Old 08-18-2009, 03:03 PM
 
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Plus looking back on my own teenager-hood, they've got their heads screwed on better than I had mine, and I take comfort in that!
Same here. I always dreaded the teen years because I was so wild and had a lousy relationship with my parents, but have found that I really enjoy my girls as they get older. We just moved the eldest (17) to college 800+ miles from home, and the second (16) just got her license and a car, so I'm doing lots of letting go these days. (the youngest is 14, so it won't be long for her, either...)

We've managed to keep good communication with them all; they don't share everything, but talk about decisions they've made and things they've done that they weren't sure we'd approve of. So far they haven't shocked us (not sure they could!), and I've even been deemed "cool" by DD-17's friends for being glad she did some experimenting *before* leaving home.

We do have "house rules" such as curfews and such, but I'm very aware that I can't control what they do if they really want to do it. So I try to give good advice, talk about issues, teach them to be responsible, and then let them spread their wings and fly.
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#7 of 31 Old 08-18-2009, 03:32 PM
 
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My eldest is 19 and we have been through some trying times (partying, underage drinking tickets). But we seem to have come through the other end. She is definitely maturing and I have no doubt she will be just fine. She no longer lives at home, which helps, and makes it sooo nice we she visits and takes her younger siblings out to the movies or some other treat!

I can't say I am looking forward to doing over twice more. But at least I have the benefit of this experience so have a chance of improving on my performance!

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#8 of 31 Old 08-18-2009, 11:45 PM
 
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I am dealing with this now, my eldest is 17 and lives with his Dad but he has been here at my house all summer. He is a good kid compared to who I was at 17, he is great student (even senior class president....I was skipping school at this age) overall a sweet kid. Yet its a struggle for me to deal with the moodiness and trying to balance being supportive with not being a nag.

Its hard because I also have a 4 yo and most of my friends only have small kids aside from 2-3 whose kids are really adults.

Yet I worry so much, like tonight, at almost 10 he wanted to go to the video store and to get a canday bar...I said isn't it too late (I know ) yet I also know you have to let them go. It is hard, hope there is more discussion here because I could use it.

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#9 of 31 Old 08-19-2009, 12:49 AM
 
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lol 10 o'clock too late
you can count me in, dd is 20 and ds is 16. dd has had some rough years but has come through it. she still lives with me but is slowly coming into her own. its been harder with her for me because when she was 14 She stopped talking to me and has only recently started again. it was so hard. ds does talk to me, he is having trouble right now having out of control emotions. i am just glad he trusts me enough to talk to me about it.

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#10 of 31 Old 08-19-2009, 10:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Tell me about going out at 10pm! Ds does that too. "what do you mean you're going out with your friends now? where?" Doesnt he realize my worrying stops and sleeps at 9pm?

We're trying to keep lines of communication open. Which can be hard at times when they're talking about their "fantastic" ideas about things. (which are far from thought out and fantastic) It sometimes feels like we bite our tongues and try to "meet in the middle" when they're not. But then, why should they? I think. lol I go back and forth so many, many times. Which issues do I put my foot down and become more parent? Which ones do I let go?

Most of my friends have younger kids too. One of my best friends oldest is the same age as my youngest. It makes for odd conversations, lol. And also difficult b/c they cant understand what I'm going thru. If I get one more person telling me, "well, when I was that age...". It frustrates me b/c I feel our memories are clouded, we've grown so much since teenagehood, changed alot, but it doesnt really feel that way. It feels like we've always been "smart", lol.
So, discussing with other parents in the same boat is nice.

So, do you have established "rules" for your technically adult children living in your home? Or not? How do they feel about it?
We have some. He has proven to us in the past that he can be responsible with himself, (no underage drinking, no going past curfews, etc) so we've lifted any rules regarding to him coming and going. All we ask is that if he's not coming home, he shoots me a text to let me know so I dont freak out in the morning. He likes the arrangement, so do we. He's respectful when coming home as to not wake us or the other kids up, so we appreciate that.
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#11 of 31 Old 08-19-2009, 02:00 PM
 
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It is a tightrope. My eldest is 16. The hardest thing for me is to bite my tongue. I'm not known for keeping my opinions to myself ;-)! I hope that my actions speak louder than my words. I'm trying to demonstrate my trust and give him a fair amount of room. I can't quite keep quiet about the music he listens to or the fashions he prefers or the art he likes, but at least I'm not banning and censoring it. We have some interesting, thoughtful discussions about the merits of different art forms. And as long as he gives me a general idea of his plans and who he's with, I'm not forbidding him from activities. So I hope that I'm getting the balance right.
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#12 of 31 Old 08-19-2009, 06:59 PM
 
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Glad to hear that going out at 10 even if it was just a brief outing seems strange. He went out and was back in 20 mins but I still worry because the later it gets things happen. Really trying to not be so overprotective but its hard .

Mothering since 1992...its one of the many hats I wear.
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#13 of 31 Old 08-19-2009, 07:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And really, what does one person need sooo badly at 10 pm when your 18?!
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#14 of 31 Old 08-19-2009, 07:10 PM
 
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we've lifted any rules regarding to him coming and going. All we ask is that if he's not coming home, he shoots me a text to let me know so I dont freak out in the morning. He likes the arrangement, so do we. He's respectful when coming home as to not wake us or the other kids up, so we appreciate that.
This is exactly the arrangement we have. Both my boys, the almost 18 and almost 20 year old, work the evening shift and don't get home till 2-3 am, so their biological clocks are offset by a few hours.

Last night my 15 yo daughter wanted to walk to a friends house at 10:30 pm - I said no way, I will drive you. Even though it's only a few blocks, I don't let her out by herself after dark. She's homeschooled so her day usually starts around 1 pm just like her brothers.
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#15 of 31 Old 08-20-2009, 08:54 PM
 
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And really, what does one person need sooo badly at 10 pm when your 18?!
During the summer if my son has no plans (he has been doing catering gigs so its not a daily job) he will stay up all night and sleep all day, so his 10 pm is pobably like my 5 pm. In his case he wanted a movie to watch and some candy to eat. He is a real movie buff who will stay up all night watching movies so even though we have Netflix he still uses the video shop.

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#16 of 31 Old 08-20-2009, 09:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'd go out at 10pm for candy. I admit it.

That makes sense if their "day" starts around that time. My ds sometimes works the graveyard shift (11pm - 8am) so he's had his days/nights all messed up too.
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#17 of 31 Old 08-22-2009, 12:35 AM
 
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So, do you have established "rules" for your technically adult children living in your home? Or not? How do they feel about it?
My oldest is "only" 16, so this hasn't come up for me as a parent. When I was that age, the only rules I had were house rules that applied to everybody. Basically, we all let each other know where we were going to be, including a phone call if plans changed. We had basic rules about laundry, food, etc. - but they were more the kind of rules you have with a roomie than for a kid. Mom (mom & dad split up a few times, and he was out of the house for a while at that time) gave me advice sometimes, usually when I asked, but not always. But, she basically treated me as an adult. She was almost like a mentor (a much loved one), instead of a mom.

But, she was also my manager at work from the time I was 30 until just before I turned 33, and we had a solid work relationship, too. We never really had any trouble relating as people from the time I was old enough to grasp that mom wasn't just "mom", yk?

I think we'll do things in a pretty similar fashion with ds1. He's a much better behaved kid than I ever was, anyway.

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#18 of 31 Old 08-22-2009, 10:28 AM
 
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When I was that age, the only rules I had were house rules that applied to everybody. Basically, we all let each other know where we were going to be, including a phone call if plans changed. We had basic rules about laundry, food, etc. - but they were more the kind of rules you have with a roomie than for a kid.
I like that. "House rules" that apply to everyone, rather than special rules that apply based on family status, seems to be a wise strategy in general, at any age. There would be some modification for age appropriateness, to allow for greater responsibility as it's earned, but it would be helpful to create a system of trust and responsibility from early years.
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#19 of 31 Old 08-22-2009, 12:05 PM
 
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The most self-questioning, "what do I do now?" time for me as a parent isn't the infant stage, it's the adult stage. When I can't kiss away the miscarriage, the ups and downs of adult relationships, the frustrations of finding a job, etc. On the other hand, it's also the most rewarding time as well. To be on the side lines and watch my adult children struggle and find their own solutions and realize that I had a hand in all that. To see my children raise their children.

Chris--extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, APing, CLW, homeschooling before any of this was a trend mom to Joy (1/78), Erica (8/80), Angela (9/84), Dylan (2/98)
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#20 of 31 Old 08-22-2009, 12:21 PM
 
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Tell me about going out at 10pm! Ds does that too. "what do you mean you're going out with your friends now? where?" Doesnt he realize my worrying stops and sleeps at 9pm?

We're trying to keep lines of communication open. Which can be hard at times when they're talking about their "fantastic" ideas about things. (which are far from thought out and fantastic) It sometimes feels like we bite our tongues and try to "meet in the middle" when they're not. But then, why should they? I think. lol I go back and forth so many, many times. Which issues do I put my foot down and become more parent? Which ones do I let go?

Most of my friends have younger kids too. One of my best friends oldest is the same age as my youngest. It makes for odd conversations, lol. And also difficult b/c they cant understand what I'm going thru. If I get one more person telling me, "well, when I was that age...". It frustrates me b/c I feel our memories are clouded, we've grown so much since teenagehood, changed alot, but it doesnt really feel that way. It feels like we've always been "smart", lol.
So, discussing with other parents in the same boat is nice.

So, do you have established "rules" for your technically adult children living in your home? Or not? How do they feel about it?
We have some. He has proven to us in the past that he can be responsible with himself, (no underage drinking, no going past curfews, etc) so we've lifted any rules regarding to him coming and going. All we ask is that if he's not coming home, he shoots me a text to let me know so I dont freak out in the morning. He likes the arrangement, so do we. He's respectful when coming home as to not wake us or the other kids up, so we appreciate that.
To teens, going out at 10pm isn't late. Especially since retain jobs don't clock out until then.

Our "rules" were the same for our teens as they were for us, the parents. Everyone called home if they were going to be later than previously stated. The girls didn't have curfews in high school. They just had to get up the next morning to go to school. No getting calls from the police. No calling me any later than 11pm. They had their own house keys and when they came in, they went on the sewing machine table which was behind the front door. That way, I could tell who was home when I got up the next morning. All the rules were based on respect and innocent until proven guilty. Bad behavior was never assumed.

Chris--extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, APing, CLW, homeschooling before any of this was a trend mom to Joy (1/78), Erica (8/80), Angela (9/84), Dylan (2/98)
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#21 of 31 Old 08-22-2009, 02:21 PM
 
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The most self-questioning, "what do I do now?" time for me as a parent isn't the infant stage, it's the adult stage. When I can't kiss away the miscarriage, the ups and downs of adult relationships, the frustrations of finding a job, etc. On the other hand, it's also the most rewarding time as well. To be on the side lines and watch my adult children struggle and find their own solutions and realize that I had a hand in all that. To see my children raise their children.
My son is only 17 but already I can see where entering adulthood can be the most challenging stage of parenting. I can "tell" my 4 yo what to do but at 17 I no longer feel as comfortable laying down the law with my son unless it was a life or death situation.

Right now planning for the future aka this college thing is our biggest issue. My son definitely wants to go to a 4 year school and I think he will excel but I also have ideas that he doesn't want to listen to and I am struggling to let him find his way, I have told him the parameters of what I can afford and he knows what he has to work with....

I finally understand my own parents so much better. In some ways the baby, and childhood years are easier at least to me.

Shay

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#22 of 31 Old 08-22-2009, 08:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My son is only 17 but already I can see where entering adulthood can be the most challenging stage of parenting. I can "tell" my 4 yo what to do but at 17 I no longer feel as comfortable laying down the law with my son unless it was a life or death situation.

Right now planning for the future aka this college thing is our biggest issue. My son definitely wants to go to a 4 year school and I think he will excel but I also have ideas that he doesn't want to listen to and I am struggling to let him find his way, I have told him the parameters of what I can afford and he knows what he has to work with....

I finally understand my own parents so much better. In some ways the baby, and childhood years are easier at least to me.

Shay
I feel the same way. While I'm enjoying this new, 2-way relationship I'm having with my older teens, I do miss the ease of the 1 way relationship with babies. (if that makes any sense, lol)

I know 10 isnt late for teens. Its just I still have to worry instead of sleep, lol.
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#23 of 31 Old 08-22-2009, 11:47 PM
 
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...it's the adult stage. When I can't kiss away the miscarriage...
You know...when I had one of my miscarriages, I went to the hospital directly from work. I commuted by bus back then, and it was a miserable ride. When I walked downstairs to the u/s lab, I saw my mom sitting on the chairs outside, waiting for me. She'd headed over as soon as she knew I was going there. No - she couldn't kiss it away...but I don't even come close to having the words to tell her how much it meant to me that she was there...that I didn't have to walk out of the u/s lab and have nobody there, and I could just cry it out, and get a ride home. I think that was my second m/c, which makes it 11 years ago - and I've never forgotten how much it helped to have mom there.

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#24 of 31 Old 08-23-2009, 07:01 AM
 
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I don't get it. Why do people think 10pm is late for an 18 yr old to go out? That's the normal time for a night out to start around here.
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#25 of 31 Old 08-23-2009, 10:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Lisa, I'm so sorry for your losses. I'm glad you had your mom for support.

Its not that going out at 10pm is too late, I think we all get it, and understand that thats when "life" begins for kids around that age, but for most of us not that age, life (the day) ends at that time. So, while I understand it, I dont like it, lol. Just like I dont like them growing up so fast sometimes. (remember, tongue in cheek. )
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#26 of 31 Old 08-23-2009, 12:18 PM
 
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You know...when I had one of my miscarriages, I went to the hospital directly from work. I commuted by bus back then, and it was a miserable ride. When I walked downstairs to the u/s lab, I saw my mom sitting on the chairs outside, waiting for me. She'd headed over as soon as she knew I was going there. No - she couldn't kiss it away...but I don't even come close to having the words to tell her how much it meant to me that she was there...that I didn't have to walk out of the u/s lab and have nobody there, and I could just cry it out, and get a ride home. I think that was my second m/c, which makes it 11 years ago - and I've never forgotten how much it helped to have mom there.
Oh, I know. Joy and Adam came to our house directly from the dr, where they learned of the miscarriage. At the previous visit, there was a heartbeat; at this visit, there wasn't. The feeling of overwhelming helplessness on my part was a surprise to me. All I could do was to hug her and Adam. While I know that was a big deal, it didn't feel like near enough.

Chris--extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, APing, CLW, homeschooling before any of this was a trend mom to Joy (1/78), Erica (8/80), Angela (9/84), Dylan (2/98)
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#27 of 31 Old 08-24-2009, 01:05 PM
 
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Oh, I know. Joy and Adam came to our house directly from the dr, where they learned of the miscarriage. At the previous visit, there was a heartbeat; at this visit, there wasn't. The feeling of overwhelming helplessness on my part was a surprise to me. All I could do was to hug her and Adam. While I know that was a big deal, it didn't feel like near enough.

I sincerely hope that neither of my daughters goes through any major reproductive problems. I don't ever want them to hurt like that. But, I know that what will be, will be...and I know what you mean about feeling helpless.

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#28 of 31 Old 08-25-2009, 01:14 AM
 
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thanks for the reminder that even though being a shoulder to cry on may not seem like we are doing enough, that it can still makes a big difference..

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#29 of 31 Old 08-25-2009, 10:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree with you Cherie2, Thank you!

My mother (and I use the term loosely) has never been a support, (when we miscarried her reply was, "thank god! you couldnt handle another baby anyway") so I tend to go overboard in the "helping" department and trying to take away all their pain and suffering. Nice to hear a loving shoulder can be everything.
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#30 of 31 Old 08-25-2009, 11:24 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

I sincerely hope that neither of my daughters goes through any major reproductive problems. I don't ever want them to hurt like that. But, I know that what will be, will be...and I know what you mean about feeling helpless.
Joy and Adam went on to have 3 beautiful (I'm not a bit prejudiced children. So that story had a happy ending.

Chris--extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, APing, CLW, homeschooling before any of this was a trend mom to Joy (1/78), Erica (8/80), Angela (9/84), Dylan (2/98)
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