Being a single parent is tough. The responsibility to raise my children in a loving home, with boundaries and guidance, to nurture them and allow them space to simply be can be overwhelming at times. I’m sure I won’t be the first (or last) mum to cry myself to sleep after making a terrible hash of something or other.
What’s hardest about being a single parent though is not having another person there as a sounding board when stumped with how best to deal with something. It’s all on me and if I make a mistake it’s up to me to shoulder the burden and the consequences.
But, being their mum is my greatest joy. I absolutely adore my boys. They are bright, articulate, talented, funny, passionate, kind, supportive, not to mention handsome (biased? moi? never!) and I wouldn’t change a single hair on their head.
As they’ve gotten older and we’ve entered the teen years the challenges are numerous, almost daily, but my goodness they make me laugh.
My boys and I have a very open relationship and they know they can talk to me about anything. When they were younger we had the ‘listening couch’ where they could tell me anything without consequence. The rule was if they came and told me about something before I found out, they couldn’t get into trouble. Many confessions about eating the last of the biscuits were had on that couch, but I did it so they knew they could come to me about anything, big or small, and I’d always make time to listen. The listening couch was just that. I wasn’t allowed to speak, they could just unburden, we’d have a hug and then we’d all get on with our day. As they’ve grown some of our most honest conversations have been in the car. It’s as if they find it easier to tell me about their latest crush, the fight with their friend, the telling off from the teacher, their hopes and dreams, while I’m distracted by the road ahead. Many a fun conversation has also been had around the dinner table and the latest was no exception.
Condom on the banana
The three of us were just finishing off our dinner when the wee teen announced his class would be doing sex ed at school the following week and that they would be putting a condom on a banana.
It’s not the first time he’s just announced something like that out of the blue. The last time I was making cupcakes and he waltzed in with “mum, I know what a blow job is” and waltzed out again. I nearly curdled my batter!
Anyway, we chatted about how he felt about the forthcoming lesson and he said he was a bit nervous as he’d not touched a condom before. Ah, a teachable moment I thought. So I asked if he wanted to give it a whirl so he knew what to expect. He was so giggly at the prospect, it was cute. I asked the big teen to get one from his box of supplies, which the wee teen thought was hilarious, while I fished the firmest banana I could find out the fruit bowl.
My big teen is a fantastic big brother and a really positive influence. When he came down with his packet he told us how funny it had been buying them as he’d made such a commotion knocking the whole shelf of them onto the supermarket floor. It’s good to laugh while at the same time show the little one that safe sex is just a part of life. I told the boys about the first time I’d bought a packet. I was dating this guy and thought I’d be a responsible young adult. I’d never bought anything like it before and went into the garage, up to the man behind the counter and asked for a packet. “Small, medium or large” he said. ” I don’t know, I’ve not seen it yet but as he’s 6ft 2″ large I should think” HONESTLY! Don’t laugh. Everyone in the queue behind me collapsed laughing and I came out with an enormous box that cost a fortune. My chap thought he was onto a real winner that weekend until I explained what I’d done. Ah, the innocence of youth!
I handed the wee teen the banana and his brother showed him how to unwrap and unroll. I had to ask him to do it as it’s been over two decades since I’ve seen one, let alone handled one! Much hilarity was had by all as the banana wasn’t quite as firm as it could have been but I hope that moment of openness and honesty around our table will stay with both my boys as they grow up and eventually become parents themselves.
There are so many wonderfully funny tales of life with my teens that I’ll be sharing with you on this blog, but for now, what do I know for sure about parenting teens?
- Teens don’t need parenting like they did when they were small
- Teens test every boundary set for them but require boundaries to feel safe
- Teens watch everything you do, say, behave, act and will use you for inspiration and guidance
- Teens need you as a sounding board. They don’t need you to swoop in with solutions
- Teens need you
Have a great weekend everyone. I’m off now to be mummy taxi and to have one more conversation about the offside rule, because as you know, you can never have too many chats about that!