Monday, 20 March 2017

The Trials and Tribulations of Teenage Parenting #familylife

When you begin a voyage of self-discovery or a period of recovery, it can trigger a host of issues to bubble up that you might feel unable to cope with.

Since I started having regular acupuncture appointments seven months ago, I’ve been presented with certain topics that have pushed their way to the forefront of my therapy sessions. Some of the themes I face tend to rise and fall depending on my mood, and the cycle of the moon! However, recently I’ve been presented with an issue that on the surface appears to be every mother’s daily battle, but buried underneath is my fear of confrontation, aggression, and dominating and bullying men.

We all know that you don’t get a manual when you have children, and so we muddle along doing the best we can. I’m fortunate that my children are smart, funny, and open to talking through problems with me. We are a close family and support one another at all times. As a mother, it’s hard to watch your children struggle, whether that’s with school work, friendships, or more serious issues.

There are so many lessons that I try to teach my children in the hope that it helps them on their life path. One such message is to be a leader, not a sheep. I’m glad to say that this piece of advice seems to have stuck and my children are incredibly good at debating, standing up for themselves, and supporting their peers when necessary.

Unfortunately, over the past few months, I’ve been challenged to address this lesson, and I have to say, it’s been really tough. One of my children has been targeted by a bullying male who was in a position of authority. Another man, also in a similar position, handled a situation in such a way that he destroyed mine and my son’s trust in his expertise. I seem to be on direct dial with the school as my son’s behaviour is brought into question.

I’m not going to tell you that my son is an angel; he’s sixteen, studying for his GCSEs, dealing with his changing emotions and body, and hasn’t yet learned how to handle certain situations. However, my son is an amazing boy. He’s fiercely loyal, funny, smart, competitive, and opinionated.

So, do I change my lesson? Do I tell him not to be a leader, but instead be a sheep? Do I tell my son to stop being who he is because it’s upsetting some people?

There have been a few instances of late where I’ve had to pull the bad cop routine on my son (tough side of being a single parent) and explain exactly what the outcome of his behaviour can cause.

All three of my kids have sugar coated things for my benefit in the past, telling me that they couldn’t possibly have done such a thing, or said something nasty, or behaved in a negative way. I’m not stupid. I was a kid once, and I remember all the tricks. They don’t seem to realise this small fact and then wonder why I keep my steely gaze locked on their lying faces until they spill the truth. But when faced with all the angst of recent months my son has remained honest with me. He knows right from wrong, but he doesn’t understand how all of a sudden his behaviour is a problem.

I’m inclined to agree with him. He hasn’t changed since he was a toddler. He has always spoken his mind, whether that was the appropriate thing to do or not, I guess age and experience will counteract this. When he perceives an injustice has been done, then he will be very vocal about his opinion on the matter. Again, dealing with this is something that comes with experience, but should I tell him to keep his mouth shut and put his head down?

It’s my hope that my children are happy, healthy, and successful in their chosen field. At this time in their development, none of us know what that field will be. What if my outspoken son becomes a lawyer who stands up for those who can’t help themselves, what if he turns to politics in a bid to help give a voice to those that need it? I don’t want to stand in the way of this.

I refuse to call this a challenge, I refuse to be controlled by bullies, and I refuse to keep telling my son to become a sheep. Being strong can be scary at times, but together I know we will get through this.

On a final note. I met a good friend for coffee yesterday who told me how her partner had been misunderstood at work. Speaking up about an intercompany issue had caused a ripple of unease. However, her partner couldn’t understand this as he was just being himself. It resonated so much with what my son is up against at the moment. I felt relieved that a grown man could meet with the same resistance to being themselves as a sixteen-year-old boy. It was like finding the light at the end of a dark tunnel.

Parenting is a tough job, but it’s also the most rewarding. I’d love to hear from you if you can relate to this, or if you just want to offer any advice.

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  1. As someone out the other side and now with grandkids, I remember the teenage years with horror! Oh the rings my daughter ran round me, the feeling of fear when I thought of all the stuff that COULD happen, that 'door' that was always open being shut. BUT now she has her own brood, we ar closer, and the door is open. Now,m she says that it was the stuff I did (campaigning, retraining as a teacher) that impressed her, not what I said ~ which she largely ignored). Our kids learn from our example. If we cave, they cave. And they learn from our weaknesses: I went through a horrendous family even that threw me into a dark place. I worried that it would affect her. It didn't. Instead, it gave her an insight into suffering, and how to be compassionate. So all works for good! x

    1. Oh, I totally agree with you Carol, my kids often tell me how proud they are of everything I've achieved. The first time they told me I was amazed that they'd noticed! x