Today we’re picking up with the fruits of discipline. When my kids were younger, I was blessed to watch first-hand a great example of how my son and his friends utilized their available repertoire of fishing skills. I must say, I was quite impressed that day!
During the middle and high school years mine was usually the go-to house, the one where kids often congregated. They’d hang out in the kitchen while I got dinner ready, cleaned or did whatever a parent tends to do. (That was before the DL’s became part of the kids’ lives. Now they’re working, or off in far more interesting places. Never knowing how many we’d have for dinner on any given day was occasionally stressful, but I can honestly say I miss those hopping times.)
Back then, the kids and I often engaged in conversation, and I took every opportunity I could to teach. (I hope I did so–and still do– without being preachy and/or without showing surprise, shock or disapproval for what the kids knew then that I had probably just begun learning at their age. They kept coming back, so maybe I did something right? I also happen to love middle- and/or high-school-age kids. If/When they don’t feel judged, they can be pretty open and a whole lot of fun to have around.)
Back to the fruits of discipline:
Older Son’s ‘core crowd’ was over on a Friday evening. One of the boys grabbed his coat when his girlfriend’s mother (the one whose dad is said to be strict) came to pick her up. He wanted a ride to a party to which he’d been invited by another friend who wasn’t present at the moment.
From the day kids started hanging out at my house, I’ve always told them the same thing: “When you’re here, I’m your parent.” (I still do, and have yet to come across one who doesn’t appear to appreciate it.)
Translation: I went into mother-mode and started asking questions.
In short, the boy couldn’t come up with the better responses any parent hopes to hear when a kid is off to a high-school party. The boy who invited the dude at my house was reported to have met the party host, a senior, earlier that day. (The inviter–to this day–is not known for sound judgment.)
At that time, I was dealing with freshmen. Parent or not, I was not in a position to tell the invitee he couldn’t go. I made that clear as I plied him with queries for details of where he was headed.
The core crowd of kids at my house chimed in, advising this guy to not go (for all the right reasons, too). He put on his jacket anyway and left with his girlfriend.
In five minutes’ time he came back, opting to hang out at my house for the rest of the evening. (A little while after that episode, that boy joined the wrestling team, and frequently voiced liking how it kept him out of trouble by being busy after school. I since learned that boy has TWO parents who struggle with serious addiction to this day. We’ll talk about us being the only parent-figure some kids have in a future post.)
Could I have asked for better? No way. This was peer pressure at its most positive. My older son’s core crowd of friends is far from perfect, but that incident gave me hope they were on their way to making more sound decisions as time went on. (Fingers crossed they continue to be! :D) The crowd has grown some, but the core group is essentially unchanged. Makes me feel good to know these are the kids my son is with outside the house.
One more thought: Back then–and now–I had to remind myself that interchange was a just-for-today moment. But: I prayed–and continue to pray–everyday that they would string together more of these episodes on their road to adulthood. This particular group is just entering their 20s. Most of them are in the trenches now, away from their parent(s)’ guidance–assuming they have a parent or parental figure to begin with. (Sometimes, you might be all a child has, but again, that’s fodder for a future post.) These young adults are in a position to apply what they’ve been taught via discipline by exercising sound judgment in their decisions. If you’ve developed that open, unconditional, non-judgmental relationship with your kids, chances are they’ll be open to any guidance you offer, and even seek it too! (That’s gravy!)
Your thoughts? Experiences? I’d love for you to take a moment and share yours here. We parents are on an immensely challenging journey of raising kids to face a world far bigger and menacing than the one with which our parents had to deal. We can make this a forum for exchanging ideas and helping each other along the way!
Next time we’ll talk about the “opportunity to learn” that tends to be inherent to most situations we encounter with our kids.
Sharing the ride,
©Joanne C Timpano, 2017, content and images (unless otherwise specified).