If you’ve read my blog before, you might remember that I call my kid Mancub. One of the reasons I do is because although he looks like a man (he’s 6’4″) he’s really still a kid…ok, a teen. Another reason I call him that is because that makes me the Mama Bear–and all that entails. Also, life with teens sometimes feels like a jungle. It’s sweaty and uncomfortable, sometimes dangerous and always an adventure.
Anyway, I realize now that Mancub is getting older, he doesn’t need me to do all the stuff I used to do when he was little.
Here are 5 things he still needs from me.
1. He still needs my support. He still needs to know I’m his number one fan, and that I’m here for him even if he makes bad decisions and messes up. My love is unconditional–that means no strings attached. It’s my job to help him talk through his tough choices and to give advice when asked–and sometimes when he doesn’t ask. Mama Bears sometimes can’t help it. Our fur gets riled up on certain (understandable) occasions.
2. He still needs me to set limits. Being a teen is all about testing boundaries and seeing what you can get away with. It’s been a while since I was a teen, but not so long that I don’t remember testing my dad in numerous different ways. Once I stayed out late and came home to find my dad sitting in the dark waiting for me. I’ve never forgotten that day. He still needs me to check up on him, to know where he is and who he’s with. His friends are his influence, so I need to know who they are and what kind of kids they are.
3.Sometimes he needs me to give him less freedom. I’m by no means an expert, so it goes without saying that sometimes I give him too much freedom and it bites us both on the butt. I reserve the right to take away any freedoms that I deem are being abused or misused. Period. It’s my call as Mama Bear.
4. He needs me to apologize when I mess up. If I never say “I’m sorry,” then how can I expect him to do the same? How is he supposed to learn what repentance looks like if I pretend I’m right all the time?
5. He needs me to hug him and tell him I love him. Just because he’s super tall and wearing a size 16 Wide shoe doesn’t mean he doesn’t need it. When a mom hugs her son, she’s demonstrating not only her feelings for him, but what mothering looks life.
6. He needs chores around the house. I know this is debatable, but come on! A kid who does all taking and no giving learns to harbor a sense of entitlement that is not attractive. He learns that everyone in the house pitches in to make it work and that there are no free rides. He needs to learn to do housework. It’s not just a good skill to learn to cook at least basic meals so he can feed hinmself some day in the future (think of the gold mine you will save when that happens!), but also it helps to reestablish gender roles in the household as fluid and changing. I tell Mancub that I’m trying to train him to be a good husband one day. Trust me, his wife is going to thank me when he comes in and helps her with the dishes. You’re welcome! Ok, so that’s assuming that he does this, but he can’t say he doesn’t know how. Truth!
7. He needs to feel the pain of consequences. When he doesn’t study for a test and fails, he learns what an F feels like. When he forgets his black socks for band and fails inspection, he learns it’s embarrassing to get yelled at and hopefully he doesn’t do it again. If I run his socks up to his school every time, you know what he learns? I can forget stuff and Mom will just bring it. That is a faulty assumption because Mom gets freaking stressed out and, contrary to popular opinion, has other things to do than to fight traffic for 30 minutes to bring you socks. Again, consequences work. If he stays up too late playing video games and oversleeps and is late to marching band…well you don’t even WANT to know what would happen. I’m pretty sure the fires of hell are just a few degrees higher.
It’s our job to model not only motherhood, but good citizenship and common courtesy. These lessons don’t always go smoothly, but it’s the job we signed up for, and really–raising tiny cubs to giant men–is one of the best jobs in the world. I LOVE IT.
Welcome to the jungle!
Read this for more great tips on teen parenting. http://meredisciple.com/blog/2010/06/top-ten-mistakes-christian-parents-of-teens-make/