I Know What You Are Going Through
"I know what you are going through." Those are the words I say at times to my oldest grandson. He's twelve, going on thirty some days, but some days going on five, and that's the up and down roller coaster most of us experience, during that time of our lives. The reason I can tell him I understand what he is going through is because, he's, as they say, cut from the same cloth. Our way of dealing with the transitioning from childhood to adulthood has been passed on through our bloodline. My mother says she had a somewhat difficult time with that period in her life. I had it, my daughter (his mother) had it, so to say I understand, I really mean it. Some days you want to be an adult, other days you want to remain a child. While the childhood days are no trouble, it's the adult days that are the hardest, you just don't know what it takes to be an adult, yet you know that's what you want to be.
The fear and trepidation of growing up are waged against the excitement and anticipation, of entering into that phase of your life. Your fear of the unknown, and trepidation about forging ahead, is what looms large in your mind. On the other hand the excitement and anticipation wages its own particular kind of war. You know growing up is inevitable so you forge ahead, undaunted into the unknown.
A Few Of My Personal Experiences
The war for us was obeying the rules. Oh, we knew what they were, and we even knew how to obey them. However, because "we knew better than most adults," (that's what we thought, mind you), we could push the proverbial envelope. Now, I'm not talking about breaking the laws of the land, just household, and maybe school rules. Because we "knew,"what we were doing, we set out to prove it by, breaking the rules, to make our point. For instance, when I was growing up, we had an open fireplace, and my mother always told me to stay clear of it, because it was dangerous. Well, one day I wanted to dry a dress that I wanted to put on, and the fire was blazing, my mother told me not to do it, but I "knew" better than she did, so what did I do. I held that dress as close as I could to the fire, and at first everything was okay, and just as I was feeling full of myself, the dress caught fire, I had to throw the dress in the fire to completely burn up.
Another time, (I was always hard on shoes, and we were too poor for me to get new shoes often), my mother bought me the ugliest gray brogans (ugly shoes of my day), she could find. At least that was my take on it. So what did I do...... after begging my mother to reconsider, two months passed, and those shoes weren't giving, so I took a knife and slit each one about where I usually wore my shoes out, to prove to my mother she was wrong, about these shoes being no better than a prettier pair, and I was right. That story held for about as long as it took for my mother to closely examine them. Now, let's not go into my punishment for those, what I would have called foibles back then, (if I knew what it meant), because it would be too brutal to describe, (smile). These and other things, like these, caused my mother much distress and probably many sleepless nights. Oh, I have a million of them, but suffice it to say my angst at meeting my mother's disapproval didn't deter me from always trying assert my own independence. Also, my daughter has had similar experiences, which I won't go into at this point. However, since we are more alike than different, empathy was the order of the day.
By the time my daughter reached that very awkward age, my memory was still fresh about my own actions at that age, so I could say to her, in my lucid moments, "I know what you are going through." Although, I said that, it was still hard to be calm. I told my mother, when I became an adult, that I would eventually have a child that would repay me, but I'd had two boys that led me to believe I'd escaped my eventuality. You see, they were more like my husband, so, as it was, I was sailing on cloud nine. Then it happened, "she" was born.......... my "attitude twin." They use to call me, "miss know it all," and I passed that title on to her. So, the same things I put my mother through, was visited upon me, by "her." Now it's her turn. I told her that she would be repaid (smile). On a serious note if we understand from whence we can, we are better prepared to pass on advice that would aid in hitting the mark we are aiming for.
On a serious note, to say that I understand, or know, what he, (my grandson) is going through, might be an understatement. Dealing with him is almost like reliving my life. Because he is very intelligent, he looks at us like we're morons at times. His actions are reminiscent of not only mine, but also his mother's. Now is the time for us to take the reigns, and show him that we really do understand him, and put into practice our life's experience. There are times when I tell him that he is not sneaky, he's the grandson and the son of sneaky. But being understanding and empathetic should be our starting point.
The things that we did "back in the day," don't even compare to the things that our children are capable of. With the advent of the electronic media, danger lurks at every computer, Blackberry, cell phone, i-phone, Wii, PSP, and some I don't even know about, but they do. These days we have to be proactive, putting into practice the things we've learned from living, in addition, we have to educate ourselves on the new electronic media. Beyond that, we should have one on one conversations with our young ones. Of course we know, or should know the personality of our children, but other things factor into the equation, especially these days. Even if we feel that we know what they are going through, their ways of dealing with life is different. Human nature has not changed, but our surroundings have and we have to act accordingly, keeping in mind that we still have the responsibility of raising our children.
Some would say that we should let our young ones make their own decisions at this stage of their development, however there are many things to consider. Consider this, if your child (say, a preteen) , said that they did not want to go to school anymore, what would you do? Would you just throw up you hands and say "okay?" Another thing, what if they decided that they didn't want to eat vegetables anymore? Would you just remove all vegetables from their diet to please them? Of course not, you know what's best for them, so you would, as a good parent, "make" them go to school and eat vegetables. We can apply that same line of thinking to other areas of their lives, for instance, concerning, letting them choose their own form of entertainment. You see, during this critical time of transition, when they are not sure what they want to be or do, someone has to make these crucial decisions, and that would be incumbent upon the parents to stand up to challenge, and make informed decisions.
My advice to my beloved daughter and other mothers, who think they have a difficult child to deal with, is, "think back." You, the father, or maybe a close relative, probably had the same characteristics, that could be the starting point. At that point in your life, how did you want to be treated, could it have been a hug, a listening ear, or maybe just ignoring the situation until you calmed down. In my day, I wanted to explain, or just dialogue, but those were not the days for that, you listened, not spoke.
Every generation works with what they have. This generation is a lot more informed about the human psyche than times past, however, as they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same. So while we are still the same, the manner of dealing with situations have changed somewhat, we are not so afraid to listen to our child's point of view. However, when listening to their point of view, keep in mind that it is, nevertheless, still, a child's point of view, and you as the adult have the final say. However, in most cases we have to listen with our hearts, not just our ears, easier words to say than to put into practice. I had a way of doing that, in the heat of anger, hers and mine, I would just stop (when I could) and take her into my arms, and calm her down, with the words "I love you." Of course, that didn't always work, so I remembered I was the parent, and I acted accordingly. This young lady was a daddy's girl, so at times she and I had to come to a meeting of the minds, meaning what I said had to go at this point, no discussion. Fortunately my husband was in full accord, (when his heart was not wrapped up in the situation). I digress. At this stage of the game the words "I love you" cannot be over emphasized, you think this is rough, just wait, the worst is yet to come.
So in conclusion, I say one stage at a time, conquer this and you will be better prepared to handle the next. I have five well adjusted adult children, not perfect mind you, not even close, but neither am I, but we have made it to this stage in our lives virtually unscathed. I don't want you to think that I did this all by myself, they had a wonderful father, that took his fatherhood role very seriously. However, this advice can work in a single parent home, just as well, after all it is not rocket science, just parenthood, something that should come a little easier than rocket science.
© 2009 Alfreta Sailor