Let me preface this post with a confession; I was a tough teenager. Yes, I made it through, became an honor student, worked my way through undergrad, law school and actually have a respectable career and a decent view of the world. But, I was a tough teenager. I don’t want my kids to suffer the same hardships getting to where they are going (and frankly, I don’t want to deal with the same stuff my poor mother did!).
I know that growing up involves mistakes and mistakes often require consequences. I have been known to implement consequences and I have been known to”forget” to follow through on consequences.
Recently, I had to give one of my sons a consequence — and it was difficult. He thinks he is being singled out in our family (he is not) and he feels alone. It breaks my heart.
However, I know how important it is to follow through and show him how strongly I feel about his conduct. He needs to regain my trust and my sense that he “gets” what I am saying and then, the hardest part … he needs to act on what I am saying.
I told him that trust is naturally there until broken. It then takes work to rebuild that trust. That is a hard concept for kids. Kids (and adults!) often develop their own “truth.” Their “truth” is not always the real “truth.”
I am going to take him out later tonight for hot cocoa and a trip to the bookstore. We need to reset. He’s been sullen ever since his consequence and he knows this is serious in my mind. Honestly, I think his sullenness is coming from his very real disappointment in his own behavior. I’m thankful for that.
Here’s what I am thinking of saying to him:
1. I love you – no matter how frustrated you think I am or you are with me … I love you.
2. You, and you alone, are responsible for your behavior.
3. You will learn from experience but you have to remember that those experiences are not deletable. They will stick with you and have lasting consequences.
4. Embrace who you are but remember that most people are looking at the outside. At your actions. You may have good words and thoughts but what your feet (and body!) do will speak the loudest.
5. Find your internal voice. You know what is right and wrong. Access that voice before you act. And if you happen to act before you listen. Acknowledge what you’ve done and go back and listen to your voice again … you’ll hear it.
I have faith in him. He is getting caught up in being a teenager. I know it’s difficult. I won’t let him slip too far but I have to let him make some of his own mistakes. (deep motherhood sigh).
Have a good day.