Friday, May 27, 2011

Fathers and Sons

When my husband and I first talked about having children together, he kidded me that if I handled the early years -- all the diapers, middle-of-night feedings, etc., then he would handle all the angst of the teenage years.  Of course I don't think that either of us really expected that it would turn out that way.

Having babies and toddlers around was much more exhausting than I ever expected it to be.  My boys have always seemed to need less sleep than I do and had boundless energy.  With my husband traveling all the time, and when home either jet-lagged or at the office, it turns out that I did end up doing most of the parenting all by myself in those days.  I was always tired and often overwhelmed.  My kids were naturally curious and questioned everything -- including my authority (and everyone else's).  While I love that they are great thinkers with a strong sense of self, I will confess that I lost my temper with them way more than I would have liked.

Over time, I think I have developed an appropriate level of patience with my kids.  As they have become pre-teens and teenagers, I realize that their sullenness and even anger toward me isn't personal.  I remember this time in my life very well and I am determined to treat them with respect and with dignity.

Lately, we've had a few situations that reminded me of the angst and turmoil of this age bracket.  The revelation that my older son has a girlfriend and lied about sneaking off to see her was the first source of tension.  Shortly thereafter, I inadvertently found his stash of condoms (he's only 13!) which lead to more worried conversation.  And then last night there was a blow-up between my older son and my husband which ended up with an ugly and horrifying physical confrontation.

It has become clear that just as I struggled with the early years, which I had so confidently believed would be a breeze, my husband is struggling with the volatility and moodiness that can define adolescence.  It is going to take some time to work things out.  But as I have been reminding my husband, we must always remember that we are the adults.  We must take the high road.  We can't take things personally.  And we must love unconditionally and always be ready to forgive.

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