28 Aug
Posted in: parenting
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Tailoring Parenting to My Audience

Our second oldest son and I were driving to his 6th grade orientation last week. His brothers and sister weren’t with us. This was the perfect time to talk one-on-one about heading to middle school. I over-think and prepare for situations. I was going to begin with talking about responsibility before moving into the importance of kindness and bravery before wrapping up with a shortened version of previous talks on drugs, alcohol and sex. I’d given this talk to his older brother two years ago. He had questions about this new chapter, fears and concerns. In my head, J and I were about to experience that same moment.

boy opening school locker

I had forgotten a key part in the discussion. Those brothers are not the same. J was quietly sitting in the passenger seat, and I said the thing that matters most,” Remember how much you’re loved. At the end of a not-so-good day, know that you come home to a safe place where you matter and are ridiculously loved.”

He was looking away from me out the window and simply replied, “I know.”

He and I are different in most every way. He’s reserved and introverted. He’s quiet and uses few words. He doesn’t weave long, drawn-out emotional adjective-filled tales. He tells you simply how it is. I’ve wished countless times that I knew what he was thinking and feeling. He’s not going to freely offer those thoughts and emotions until he believes they’re necessary. That apple fell close to his father’s tree and in a different orchard than mine.

It’s taken me most of his 11 1/2 years of life to not take it personally. Sitting quietly isn’t a sign of something boiling or festering under the surface. It’s not that he doesn’t trust me with his thoughts and feelings. He processes life in a much different way than I and his siblings do.

He’s moving to a school with 500 more people than he’s been with in elementary school. There are lockers and seven teachers. There’s a lot happening in his world. He doesn’t need me to remind him of all the things I’ve said multiple times in multiple ways. He needs to know he has a soft place to land when he needs it. These next seven years are a world of change with the consistency of the family that loves him. There was no long speech from me or questions from him. There was a quiet between us which used to make me feel tense. Last week it felt peaceful. He can handle much more than my worrying heart allows itself to believe.


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