I got a surprising phone call on my way home from work earlier this week. It was my son, calling me from the health room of his school.
He had decided to skip one of his classes to go to the near by mall. On the way back from their mall run, him and 10 of his “friends” hopped over the fence and he got caught on the fence and ended up have a couple of cuts on his hand and stomach (hence the reason why he was calling from the health room).
I was in pure disbelief that my sweet little (not really little) would do such a thing. It was a surreal moment and when the school nurse was put on the line I could only manage out “uh huh” and “okays” out of my mouth in response.
I couldn’t fathom what my 12 year old was going to face; the punishment for stepping off of campus during school hours? In school suspension.
I had so much emotions running through me, and even after spending an hour on the phone with him, I was still a little dazed that it has even happened.
My first thought is to blame myself.
Maybe if he was here or I was there this wouldn’t have happened. Maybe my face time phone call every other day is not enough to REALLY know what’s going in that mind of his. I feel like it is completely 100% my fault and spent the rest of the night beating myself up about it.
I’ve been letting it sit on my mind for the past few days. I did a bit of reading and researching about raising teenagers. I talked to people who are close to me like my mom and my grandma who have gone through this “phase” and began to digest everything. I realized a few things that have helped me not be over rational about it and gained a bit of clarity. I know what I have to do and there are some things to consider and remember when it comes to raising a teenager.
Being a teenager is HARD
Although he is not quite an actual “teenager” till August, I can’t imagine that being a teenager during this generation is easy. It was already hard when I was going through it, but it has to be so much more worse for them now. There are so much unnecessary worries that our children have to go through, along with the distractions of social media. We gotta cut some slack for these kids and remember that today’s world is worse than it was 10-15 years ago.
Let them make mistakes
This was definitely not AJ’s first mistake, nor will it be his last–and that’s OK.
We have to allow our children to make these types of mistakes, so that they can learn, adjust, and grow.
Of course, I’ve never experienced suspension myself, but if that’s what it takes for him to realize that skipping school is no joke, then so be it. I want him to be able to have second chances of improving himself and remember this experience for the next time that something like this comes up for him.
Listen (with intent)
If there is one thing that I try to force myself to really work on is to listen. REALLY listen. A lot of our conversation about this incident was me just trying to understand his side and where he is coming from. I really just wanted to show him that despite my disappointment, I hear him.
Sometimes listening also means when they are not talking. Be observant in their moods and behaviors.
They may be trying to tell you something without actually telling you anything.
As a parent I feel it is our job to figure out their needs when they don’t want to talk. If we can do it when they are babies and we have to decipher what their cries and cues are, we can surely do it as they get older.
Friends are everything
Thinking back to when I was 12/13, my friends were EVERYTHING. They were what I considered important and what they did or said influenced my own actions. I made a point of telling AJ that that true friends will influence you to succeed in your life, and that in about 5 years he probably won’t remain in contact with half of the people he currently spends time with.
But it won’t matter, because at the end of the day, this is one of the lessons that he will have to learn himself. I can also attempt to get him to find new friends, but let’s be honest, no kid his age will just adhere to that.
What I have to do is to start making an effort to get to know who his friends are. Of course, that is going to be VERY difficult for me since I’m not there every day (which will hopefully change soon) but this is where I have to spend the extra time to talk about them with him.
It kills me each day that he is not here to spend every single day with us, and its not quite how I envisioned it in my head when we moved here. With that it does make each time that he is here so much more special. There are times when he is here and I will just lounge in his room to “hang out.” The two girls take up a lot of my time and energy so I try to make sure that he gets some attention too.
He will probably never admit that he likes hanging out with me, and that’s OK. I know no matter what the age, that children need attention based on different needs. Continue to spend time with your children, and do things that they like to do. He’s already making his list of “things to do” for next month.
Those 3 words
Children are also never too old to hear the words I love you. I always make it a point to each of my kids that I love them, especially after they have done something wrong.
That is when they need it the most.
Saying those words remind them that no matter what kind of mistakes they make, at the end of the day you will be there to love them in every way. That may also give them confidence to confide in you and know that you will ALWAYS have their back.
This too shall pass
I remember hitting a rough patch with both of my parents being a teen and I would move from house to house because I was a lot to deal with. When I was 13, I got my first phone and totally racked up my minutes and made my mom pay a phone bill of, I think $300! (Sorry mom if you are reading this LOL!)
No matter what is going on, remember that they won’t be teenagers forever.
You’ve made it through the sleepless nights of them as a newborn, and those 3 year old tantrums.
Before long, you will be sending them off to college, helping to plan their wedding, and babysitting their own kids.
You and your child will get through the bumps and hurdles that come with the new territory of transitioning between child and adult hood. So in the meantime, fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride.
These are the things that I am trying to incorporate in the next few years as AJ and I go through this phase together. It is a learning experience for both of us, but I also truly believe that implementing these will help in getting him to what I wanted for him the moment he was born; to grown into a man that was kind and successful.
I hope that this information was helpful. If you liked this post, don’t forget to share it! And comment below if you have suggestions on raising teens, I’d love to hear it!