My friend, a working girl and single parent with two children, wails that her 17-yr old son won’t listen to her. He stays out late at night, carouses with friends in bars and pubs, skips classes, and does what he wants regardless of admonitions on his ‘bad’ behavior. This situation is common in families wherein the mother parents her children single-handedly without a spouse. But the issues or pros and cons of single parenting are not my concern here. I will leave that to the experts in that field.
Let’s try this scenario and pretend that I am the mother of that errant adolescent 17-year old boy. And this is what I would like to say to him, if he would listen.
“I don’t think that you are perfectly unaware that a person’s actions, good or bad, do have consequences. You have heard that a lot of times from me, son. I have tried to bring you up in the best possible way I could-- a home, education, and even allowed leeway for your childish whims and caprices. But you are no longer a child and soon you will be living your own life as an adult. It is time for your ‘lessons’ -- arm yourself with the right bag of ‘tools’ of courage, strength, wisdom, diligence, perseverance, faith, compassion, discipline. You will need these and more on every twist and turn, in every encounter with the world outside.
‘Big deal!’ you say. Yes, big deal but this world is undoubtedly not one of ease or all-day-long fun and laughter as you perceive it to be. It is a world wherein the person who does his homework and works hard at it comes out the better guy. There are rules and long lists of dos-and-don’ts which you need to follow for your safety, guidance, and sanity. You can’t just do anything you think or want because you have to seriously consider the feelings or private space of other people. We all stand connected one way or another. You must learn to respect people-- their beliefs and differences whoever-they-are wherever-they-are ...and at the same time deal wisely with the good, the bad, and the ugly in them. You must learn how to be compassionate with those who are deprived of things which you are amply provided with or possess... and in turn appreciate your good fortune and blessings with a grateful heart. And you must also know when to stand up to people who trample on your individual rights and liberties ...and too bravely defend those who can’t defend themselves. You will have your choice on many things but you must know how to choose well. You must be strong in heart because problems and tribulations will certainly come to test your courage or mettle to survive. But if and when you make mistakes, you must also have the humility and gentleness of spirit to admit it, correct it, and wisely extract the lesson therein meant to teach you. You must learn to rise up from every fall. There’s more, lots more, but you will have to seek them out yourself. Everything is there for your benefit – events, experiences, encounters, and the wisdom of old. But you cannot enjoy those benefits without first doing your ‘homework’ now.
This bag of goodies will be yours but only if you set the bounds for it--- meaning, nothing or no one can go any further than your heart allows. So you have to want it! I can do no more with my loudest voice or fiercest effort if you limit me or hold me at arm's length, or set the boundaries I can’t cross, or put up thick brick walls I can’t go through. I won’t make any sense to you if you close your ears, shut-off your brain, and numb your heart. But I do not intend to rule your life or change your destiny, if that is what you think. That I cannot do. That’s God’s work. But I can be what God wants me to be for you – a mother. A mother who will make sure that her child is better equipped with all that he needs for a safe and good journey through life. No, I do not have all the answers to life’s problems and there is so much more I do not know. But this I know – you won’t lack for love, care, and wisdom. This is your mom loving you. Think about it.”
That is, if I had a son. :-) But I'd still be saying the same things to my daughters if need be. Among a dozen or more things I hoped that they would learn--- i would be very happy if they learned how to listen - listen - and listen well. Decisions would be a cinch after first listening to what's being said. It won't harm to know. It won't hurt to listen.
posted on Wednesday, September 06, 2006 8:15 AM