As the mother of 3 teenage boys, I've learned a lot of things over the years. One of the main things is that no matter how much I want to manage or influence my kids choices that the natural progression of things leads to my letting go and to their making mistakes. It is the way of life and it is the way that they learn.
When children are small, parents can shape their actions and choices. They can determine what they do, where they go, what things they receive. They can to a large extent determine how well they do in school as children are more apt to respond to parental involvement at a young age. Young children can be molded. Older children however are not so easily swayed.
In my boys, that age came at about 13 to 14. About the time middle school started. And while they could still be managed with punishments such as taking things away, limiting friends over and sleep aways, that sort of thing, they were becoming their own adult selves. It is this time when it starts to become hardest for a parent. You still want them to respond to what you are telling them. Get good grades it's important for your future. Don't choose inappropriate friends. Remain friends with girls and don't be so eager to have a "relationship". Put off sex until you are older and ready for all that comes with it. Don't drink, do drugs, or smoke. You keep talking and you hope they are listening.
As they grow even older, it becomes harder and harder. They become involved in work, friends, girls and sometimes not in that order. They think they know everything and that you, their parent, are just some crazy who wants to control their lives. But you keep talking. You keep trying to get them to make good choices. When they reach the age of about 17 however, you realize they are all but grown men and that you can say what you want, but it is now up to them to make the decision and live with the consequences. It is how they learn and even though some may be very, very painful for a parent to watch, it must be done.
We all did it. We all made at least a few mistakes that our parents tried to keep us from making. Our children make them too. It is the natural progression of things. They make the mistakes. They learn. And we love them through it all. My oldest decided that he wouldn't do well in school for a few years and then, with about 6 months left of high school he decided to apply himself and graduate on time. He did this and in a little over a month, he will start college. Something I was not sure would ever happen the way he had been going. And I'm so proud of him. And he is so proud of himself. That is of course the bigger lesson for him and he had to learn it after making a lot of mistakes, but he did learn it. I have also learned that you can love your children, try to manage them as best you can, but in the end the natural progression of things takes over and it is up to them. All you can do is be there to love them and catch them when they fall and put a little emotional band-aid on the hurt.