Mom, I’m Not A Puppy Anymore

“When parents talk about the depression of the empty nest, they’re not mourning the passing of all those wet towels on the floor, or the music that numbs your teeth, or even the bottle of capless shampoo dribbling down the shower drain. They’re upset because they’ve gone from supervisor of a child’s life to a spectator. It’s like being the vice president of the United States.”

– Erma Bombeck

For the past 3  years I have struggled with my “baby” – my son – maturing into a young man. My frequent hugs, praise and kisses on the keppy have become more and more annoying to him. The challenge in this for me has been two-fold: 1) he is my youngest (read last) child and 2) he’s always been my “little boy”.  #1 is still true, however #2 now falls squarely into the “Stop Treating Me Like A Baby” category.

I’ve always sensed that I’m overprotective of my son. He’s very compassionate, kind, and uncommonly sensitive to what others are feeling. Because of the latter trait, I’ve unconsciously protected him from some of the conflict, anxiety, and confrontations that he might otherwise be exposed to, all the while feeling that I was doing something good for him; helping him to feel that life was primarily happy and that The Cup Of Life is Half Full.

What I learned earlier this week was that shielding him from life’s difficulties was not helping him.  He experienced my protectiveness as a subliminal message that I felt he wasn’t up to the task of dealing with life.  He told me, sweetly and with the desire not to hurt my feelings (that’s just like him, by the way), that my overprotectiveness actually made him feel that I didn’t have faith in him – that he couldn’t handle difficulties on his own. In his words, “Mom, I’m not a puppy anymore.” I thought this was a perfect way to tell me I need to back off and let him learn to handle life’s challenges like a man (or a Big Dog, as the case may be).

I really appreciated his candid comments, because honestly, it’s gone a long way towards helping me let him move from childhood into a strong, capable young man.

This whole parenting of teens thing is truly a day-by-day process. I’m a better parent today than I was yesterday thanks to my son being honest with me. When the student is ready, the teacher appears (talk about role reversal!)

However – I am STILL The Mother and I WILL take hugs – by force if necessary.

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Eddy on February 27, 2011 at 9:21 am

    One of the reasons I fell in love with you initially was your relationship with your kids. Over the past seven years I have gotten to see that relationship up close. It is truly a special thing to see. I have never seen such closeness and mutual respect between a parent and their kids. I think your post points out one of the keys to this relationship – flexibility. You truly listen and learn from them, and are not afraid to modify things when you feel a change is needed. The kids are extremely lucky to have you as a mom. ILY – eddy.

    Reply

  2. Posted by debbie on February 27, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    such a time, Kimi, you are going through! I remember it well ~ those kids are well on their way to becoming lovely adults, just like you!! *big hug*

    Reply

  3. Posted by Honey on March 8, 2011 at 3:48 am

    That’s so wonderful how your teen feels so comfortable in sharing his feelings with you with such openess and love for you. (your fault : )…Now that the association of your hugs and kisses as part of his feelings of not having his abilities trusted has changed after talking with you, it would be a surprise if he did not welcome those hugs and kisses with open arms and heart. An interesting tidbit of info. learned from my adolescence development teacher….. even though it seems that sometimes teenage boys don’t seem to need or want hugs, on the inside, they need and want hugs! 🙂 they are wonderful for helping teens (male and female 🙂 feel reassured they are loved and accepted, especially during a time of so much change. physically, mentally,emotionally and socially. You gave him the gift of listening and understanding his feelings. you just might get back the gift of more unexpected hugs and kisses than you ever imagined!:) and you deserve it! without your providing your teens with such a loving “secure base” they wouldn’t have the level of confidence they need to venture out and feel they can be trusted. They know YOur that love is always there for them. that’s huge! p.s. I agree with EJ’s post…: ) except I love you as my sister : ) heh heh. Love you.

    Reply

  4. @Sharon – thank you so much Honey! I’ll keep the unexpected hugs in mind. When I do try to give them sometimes, it feels as if he is tolerating it, counting the seconds until it’s over! Since he and I had this talk (I’m not a puppy anymore) I’ve tried to make the paradigm shift from Dylan being a boy and a young man; I actually believe he can handle his life and it’s challenges whereas before I was protective and concerned he would get his feelings hurt because he’s such a sensitive kid. It’s all good. ❤ Love you!

    Reply

    • Posted by Honey on March 8, 2011 at 3:57 pm

      Hi HOney ~ yaeh, that’s the thing my teacher was talking about… feeling like, hmm. is he enjoying my hug at all? You know what I have learned to do out of my own experience, after learning this from my teacher… with my nephews and other children… I ask them “do you mind it when I give you hugs and kisses? usually, the reply is no. : ) Whew! I have come across an answer like “yaeh, sortof”. so I say o.k. I’m sorry. I’ll ask something like would you want me to hug you at all? One of my nephews told me…you can hug me when you first see me and then when you leave. We had an agreement.:) later on, he hugged me on his own, after I took some extra time to find out who he was and find out more about his interests and really got to know Him better as a person, not just as my incredibly huggable nephew 🙂 (btw, that’s not to say you don’t do that with your teen — not by FAR! It’s just the space I gave my nephew, and hearing what interests him made a marked difference. for both of us. Although, I do make sure to tell them that when I hug them, (when I first ask if they mind if I hug them) I tell them,something like “it’s just that you are so huggable and loveable. I’ll be careful to control myself:)”
      and so you know, I noticed, before reading your message to me, which I am replying to right now, I noticed in your reply to your teens ideas for his blog showed your support of his feelings and quite reassuring to him in my opinion. you gave him a gift of taking the reigns, and he RAN with it with incredible fervor! and look at the gift YOU got… you got to see the result, which is freeing you from your fears while knowing he knows you’re there loving him unconditionally and supporting him all the way…and, his sensitive feelings, he knows that if he needs help dealing with them…you are there to love and help him, and knowing you are there for him is invaluable to him. You’ve helped him grow tremendously Honey. what a joy to be able to see him become such a wonderful, absolutely amazing young man, while never losing his care and support, respect, close relationship and most of all his love. ❤

      Reply

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