It’s Day 9 of #NaBloPoMo and I wanted to share a recent AHA moment.
My friend’s son was really ‘acting up’ this time according to her. Teen-aged hormones vs. parental control – it’s always a battle. She complained animatedly about his bad attitude towards school and anyone in authority, and lamented how their communication always broke down after the first minute of interaction. What was she doing wrong? Why wouldn’t he listen to her? She was at her wits end.
Our conversation that afternoon ended like this:
“So I am finished; I give up.”
“What? You can’t give up! He’s your son!”
“Well I am tired. Tired of talking, tired of threatening, tired of punishing; I am done. Whatever happens, happens. It’s his life.”
“But it’s too early to give up. You still have a few years where you can influence what he thinks and does. It’s not too late yet.”
“Maybe, maybe not. We’ll see.”
I haven’t touched base with my friend lately so I’m not sure what her final decision was but the conversation made me think about how challenging it is to be a parent in this world of bullying, drugs, guns and associated violence, racism, victimization, unprotected sex and AIDS. And then I feel like a stuck record because I keep repeating over and over again that parenting is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do … and that was before I became a divorced single parent.
And so of course we want to give up! We want to give up when the school calls to say our child is skipping classes, we want to give up when the police calls to say our child has been taken into custody for using illegal drugs, we want to give up when we find out our daughter is pregnant at 15, we want to give when our son tells us his 14 year old girlfriend is pregnant, we want to give up when it’s one more dental or medical or tuition bill.
But the reality is we parents only have a few years to set the stage, to lead by example, to ensure that our children are filled to the brim with good values, sound minds and discerning hearts before we set them free into the ‘big bad world’.
As my son Nathan’s teacher, my goal is to help him see the importance of:
- Defending himself without becoming confrontational
- Expressing himself without being offensive
- Loving himself without becoming egotistical
- Representing himself without being aggressive
- Being successful without taking advantage of others
- Being confident without being arrogant
- Being committed and taking responsibility (without necessarily becoming a perfectionist)
- Seeing things through to the end and never giving up
- Being fair without being discriminatory
- Understanding why I talk and talk and talk, because one day he’s going to be on his own and he’ll have to know what to do and what not to do.
This list is not exhaustive; I just use it as the foundation upon which many other lessons are built (e.g. the importance of getting a sound education and keeping his room clean). Being a survivor of divorce and the break up of your family unit will also provide lots of opportunity for imparting life words of wisdom – but that will be another post for another day.
For now, and especially on those days when I think I’m alone or feel like giving up, I am more than happy when someone calls to see how I’m doing, offers to take me to the movies or sends me an article to lift my spirits so that I can keep on keeping on. I am therefore sharing this really great post for those of us looking for an extra light to help us reach the end of the tunnel. It’s called “5 Simple Musts” and is taken from the Common Sense Dad blog.
My AHA moment after that conversation with my friend and reading about the “5 Simple Musts” was this: our children will not be babies or toddlers or tweens forever; they grow up, and sometimes way too soon. Our role as parents is to recognize and accept that our children are really adults in training, and as such we can’t give up on those who will make up our future societies. because we’re all in this together and it’s definitely worth it!