Today’s teenager is a force to be reckoned with. Since I do not have female daughters or granddaughters, I am referring to the males in my family and personal experience. I have two sons ages 38 and 30 and four grandsons ages 17, 13, 12, and 7. In my family, he is too smart, too stubborn, too independent, too fearless, and thinks he knows it all. Of course, any parent or grandparent actually DOES know differently. Unfortunately, those characteristics can be painful for both sides of the fence, the children and the adults.
Years ago in the time of the dark ages according to my children or in the time when the earth was formed according to my grandchildren, it was not unusual for graduating high school teens to experience traveling Europe by rail alone or with a friend. It was a time of great adventure and a chance to grow up by expanding personal knowledge. Those characteristics were put to the test. Afterwards, the experiences became memories and stories that lasted a lifetime.
What pertinent piece of wisdom can a parent say to an excited teen who is about to depart for a great adventure? In my time, it was always, ‘Be careful and thrifty. Do NOT trust strangers. Do NOT flash or talk about your money situation. If you get into trouble, contact the police or the U.S. Embassy or call home or all three. Call home regularly to let me know that you are still alive and well. Most important, I love you!’ But, do you think the child listened carefully to your advice, it is doubtful.
My thirty year old single son, uncle to 4 nephews, and a successful business manager of several locations and loads of personnel, surprised me with his own way of communicating effectively with my seventeen year old grandson. At the same time that he planted the ‘seeds of doubt,’ he efficiently peaked my grandson’s anger.
Recently, I had the pleasure of enjoying supper at a local pizzeria with my spouse, younger son and three older grandsons. Along with another male teenage friend, the oldest grandson is excited about taking a long-weekend trip by greyhound bus from Atlanta, Georgia to Joplin, Missouri to attend a Comic Con. A twenty-one year old female enthusiast and internet friend who had never personally met my grandson was to meet the two boys and be their escort.
My son became alarmed and his mouth ran amuck. “Who is this person? What is this person? You never know about internet people these days. You could be meeting a man setting a trap for sex with innocent teens or worse!” My son related gory details that I cannot repeat then ended his tirade with, “If anything bad happens to you, I will drive there and teach this person a lesson then bring you back home.”
Wow! Am I a successful mother or what?