I can not believe my son is 14 years old! I have no idea what happened to the time between holding my baby in my arms and now having to look up to him. There hasn’t been a shortage of laughter and tears over the last 14 years, but there is something about this time in his life right before adulthood that’s exciting and frightening at the same time. Last week, we met with his school counselor to select his high school classes for next year. And this mom cried in the car after the meeting all the way back to work. But I also thought about what important life lesson am I teaching my teenager that will make him a self-sustaining and confident young man.
1. Be Your Best Self
First, I am my son’s mother. We can talk about anything but at the end of the day he has gotten yelled at a few times because, “YOU are not about to talk to me like I’m one of your little friends”. My son has seen me through the good, bad, and ugly of this thing called life. I encourage him daily to be his best self and to accept personal responsibility when he is not. I know that I’m not going to be able to shield him from his first heartbreak or being the heartbreaker but I hope that I have taught him that every decision he makes has an impact. Being his best self doesn’t mean living up to my high expectations of what I want for his life but making himself proud.
2. Trust Is Earned
I trust my son…about as far as I can see him. For the first time ever, I allowed him to go to the mall alone with a group of friends. What he didn’t know is that after the first hour I returned to the mall for some window shopping (and maybe spying). And to my surprise he was doing what teenagers do…walking around and talking to his friends. I left and enjoyed a few hours of freedom because he had earned my trust.
3. Dream Big, But Work Hard
It’s important to dream big and want a big house and nice car but when your mom is an educator I need a plan of action. I tell my son at least once a week that anything worth having requires hard work. This year has been by far the best year of middle school. I swear I was about to sell my son for a small fee on Craigslist for the first two years of middle school. But even though it has been the best year academically, he also spends at least 1-2 hours of study time each day for math and science. His hard work has paid off with passing the Virginia Standards of Learning exams and being recommended for advanced and honors classes for high school.
Life lessons for teens are difficult to teach, there is no manual for this parenting thing. But most importantly remember that your children, not matter what age, will remember what you do more than what you say…and that is a lesson for both teenagers and parents.