My son is going to be a pre-teen this year. We are turning a corner in our relationship and in our family. He is asking hard questions and learning tough life lessons. In a way, this is a very exciting time. As much as we loved the younger stages of childhood, we love seeing him grow into his own personality and interests.
Since he is our first child, he has been the starter kid, the test-run child and the trail-blazer for our parenting. We are trying to lay a foundation of openness, acceptance, and shameless honesty in our home. My husband and I were no saints during our teen years and know without any doubt that the coming years are going to be challenging for our son and our relationship. I know he sees his future with an excited, adventurous heart. But there are a few things I hope he knows or is willing to learn as he enters this upcoming season of life.
Keep Talking to Me :: We have to keep talking. I hope to be for him a safe, judgement free place that he can come with questions and thoughts. We are going to have to talk about all of it — the hard topics, religion, puberty, sex, media, religion, relationships. I will tell him my views and thoughts, but ultimately the decisions are his to make.
Communication Is Key
He will need to learn how to communicate with people, face to face. Words have power and effective communication will get him far. I want him to be direct and truthful with words, realize they have power. Be willing to apologize, admit he does not know, or was wrong. I hope he’s willing to sit and listen to others with an open mind.
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No Matter What I Have His Back
I will remind him everyday I love him, no matter what. He can win awards, trophies, and accolades or not. He can fail and lose his way, get in trouble at school, get brought home by the cops, or not. I will still have his back, even if the situation is bad and I am angry. He will fall down and make huge mistakes. These are life’s best lessons and he will know with the upmost confidence I am here to love and support him.
Respect Yourself and Others
I want him to respect his mind, body and spirit. Respect his heart enough to walk away from people and relationships, even jobs that do not serve his needs. He should treat a CEO and a waiter with the same respect and surround himself with people who have similar values.
No Means No
It doesn’t matter the situation or context, if someone says “no” or “stop,” he needs to do so immediately and without pause.
Learn About Consent
Remember when I said words have power? I’ll teach my teen how ask for permission and respect the answer given. His hands should not touch another’s person body or property without consent.
He has been given the gift of this one life. I want him to be creative, be unique, take risks and love life. He shouldn’t hide his emotions because they make someone else uncomfortable. It’s okay to cry and be not okay. This world is complex and he will find joy as easily as he will find heartbreak, but look for the good in others and be the good for others as well.