Pic.: Anima D'Cunha
“Before I got married, I had six theories about raising children;
now, I have six children and no theories.”
– John Wilmot
“My teenager son/daughter shares ‘everything’ with me... hides nothing. Never!”
Well, whenever a parent – particularly the mother – comes and tells me this, I mutter silently in my heart – “Come on madam… ‘Everything’?”
I did not share ‘everything’ with my mom… no matter how loudly I declare my love, reverence and respect to her… And, my mother – who is barely literate – knows I am not lying when I say this. She did not expect me to ‘bare everything’ before her… She knew I was not ‘capable’ of sharing everything before her… and, she did not need me to do that. She was free from that ‘burden’… the burden of expecting her young son share ‘everything’ before her…
By this, did our love – as mother and son – diminish? Did it help me as I grew up or did it spoil me? Did it make my mom insecure… less loved, revered and respected?
Today, my son is a young man of age twenty-four. I know, what is going on in my heart… Do I expect him to share with me ‘everything’?
He won’t. And, luckily, I learnt this truth very early, much before he turned a teenager… So, there is peace in our hearts – both, mine and my son’s!
Yes, our son shares relatively more with his mother… But, does he share ‘everything’?
Many parents, particularly the mothers – when they come to enroll their adolescent children for our PD course - tell me this with a great deal of concern: “Sir, my son/daughter used to share with me ‘everything’ when small… Now, suddenly, I find him/her closed… hiding from me many things.”
“Ma’am, won’t you be happy and peaceful if you drop that need?” I gently challenge the mother, “ Do you know how amazing and mature your relationship will be if you allow your young-one that ‘space’?”
If I haven’t shared ‘everything’ with my parents when I was a teenager, then, I should not expect my son to do the same… And, this is even more important: If I and my parents have survived gloriously despite ‘not sharing everything’ – yes, despite ‘hiding something’ – yes, yes, yes, then, all parents and their young-ones will survive gloriously, too!
Navya*, a dear friend of mine, who has been living in the US for several years, wrote to me after reading my last Post – ‘WHY HAS THE CHILD NOT COME HOME?’…
As a mother of two teenage boys nearing adulthood, I can relate to what you have written in your Post, really well.
Both my sons are both driving now, have friends and a world outside of the protected cocoon we had kept them safe in. We try very hard to recognize that they both want to experience freedom and responsibility, so we, as parents, want to empower them to do so safely. We have found that it's not effective to curb their freedom; but, what's effective is to teach them to be safe, keep us informed, be comfortable sharing with us and reaching out to us when things don't quite work out as planned… and, even disagree with us to push their freedom boundaries.
Sleepless nights waiting for them to come home… is something that has now made me appreciate my dad at a whole new level, who did the same for me when I was an adolescent...
Payback time, huh?
Yes, Navya, it is, in deed, a ‘Payback time’!
Here is a beautiful poem from Diane Loomans… for us, all parents…
“If I had my child to raise all over again,
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.”
* Name changed