What I didn’t consider when I re-posted my previous post is that I didn’t really say anything about where we’re at now. For the most part, my son is in a good spot right now. I’m constantly working on my temper, and I feel like he’s constantly working on how he responds to situations. We talk more, and I feel like we’ve reached an equilibrium with each other.
One of the big disconnects we’ve had over the past 6 months or so is the way he dresses. I don’t like it, and I don’t really understand it…but at some point, I remembered that my father and I had similar clashes, and that I’ve got to give him space to figure out who he is. I’ve even gone with him to Hot Topic (yes, he’s gone in that sort of direction), when he wanted to buy clothes with his own money…and I didn’t criticize what he purchased.
All in all, things are getting better…which I am ever so grateful for.
I wrote this back in February, but kept it private. After a few months of space, I feel like I can share it now.
"I Am the Parent of a Teenager…"
and it is not very fun right now.
I don’t typically post personal things on here. I don’t need my emotions re-blogged. I don’t need “likes” on the feelings that I have in my heart. I don’t need to see notifications about this post. This is mainly for me to get some feelings out. I learned yesterday that, recently, my 13 year old son has been inflicting harm on himself: cutting. When my wife called me at work to let me know that she had been contacted by his counselor at school, my eyes immediately were filled with tears.
He’s a generally happy guy, but has an extremely sensitive streak, not unlike myself when I was his age. Lately I had noticed that he’s become a little more reserved, spending more time alone in his room. That was not alarming, because frankly I spent a lot of time in my room as a kid, and I know that when my wife was a teenager she spent very little time outside of her room. His grades have slipped lately…which I’ve had a hard time understanding. I attributed a lot of this to hormones…and for some of it I still do. But now I have new information that I have to figure into my parental equation. I also have to ask the question “How do I stop bad things from happening to my son…and how do I stop him from being a bad thing happening to himself?”
When bad things are happening to your children, the temptation is to see yourself as a parental failure. The problem is that parenting is the ultimate “on-the-job” learning experience. The methods that we use to teach our children have to change from day to day, especially during puberty, as their bodies, their minds and their spirits are changing from day to day. I have no idea how to “succeed” at parenting, which means that I have no idea how to escape failure. The biggest problem with this is that, except in the most extreme cases (which this feels like at the moment), I won’t know if I’ve failed until it’s too late. I’m doing my best, but what if my best isn’t good enough? Hopefully there is a professional out there who can help, and we’ll all look back at January 17, 2013 as a day we started learning a lot about ourselves as a family.
To parents reading this: hug your children. Tell them how much you love them. Try and help them understand that you’re in this life together, and that’s the only way we all get through these strange, strange years. Tell them that you’re praying for them, if that’s part of your belief system. They’ll make mistakes. Forgive them and move on.
To any kids that are reading this: your parents, by and large, love you and are doing their best. We yell at you to let the dog out, do your homework, and take out the garbage. We want you to be better than we were at your age, because we want you to be better grown-ups than we are now. Even if you’re the youngest child in a family of 19 kids, know that raising you is a new experience, because you are not the same as your siblings, and they’re trying to do things the right way for your sake. They’ll make mistakes. Forgive them and move on. Also, if you’re inflicting harm on yourself, please talk to someone. If you feel like inflicting harm on yourself, please talk to someone. I know that there are times when it feels like no one cares…but there is always someone who will. I’ve gone through the “cutting” and related tags here on tumblr, and my heart is broken by all the pain that I’ve seen. You are all precious, and I encourage you to talk to someone, anyone, about these problems.
To the students on his bus who let someone know this was happening: thank you. You have no idea how indebted I am to you. I don’t know specifically who you are, but you have my gratitude nonetheless.
To my son, who will probably (hopefully) never see this, I love you very much. I am extremely proud of you and the young man you are becoming. We will get through this, and you will be better for it, as will your mother and I.