There are many books, articles and research that parents can use as a resource for parenting. This information can be used to decipher what just happened, what we are in the middle of, or if we are really proactive, what’s to come. Then there are those of us who rely on the support of other parents, learning from our own mistakes, or the ever so exciting and a little bit risky ‘on the job training.’
Just like any task or job we take on there are ups and downs, rewards and disappointments, praise and criticism. I have come to recognize that parenting is not a part-time job, hobby or a job for the faint-hearted. Sure the second or third time you potty train, you have the ‘gear’ – but that doesn’t mean the approach is going to offer the same results. We grow in our understanding and practicality the more often we face a task or difficult situation; however since we are dealing with unique individuals the path isn’t necessarily straight and narrow; often it has different turns, bumps and obstacles. Or if we fortunate enough to have our more challenging tasks earlier in our parenting, we can rely on the ‘learning from our mistakes’ approach.
I recently had a discussion with an older son in preparation for his internship in a large corporation. I didn’t read up on it, hadn’t prepared the talk based on previous experience or walked this road before, but I knew I had to mention it. In the midst of the practical aspects such as acquiring the position, purchasing the appropriate business attire, securing transportation and completing the necessary paperwork, I as nonchalantly as possible ‘warned’ him about women who were established in the field and their possible attraction to him… I used the ‘on the job training’ approach relying on his unconditional love for me as I embarrassed the heck out of him. I didn’t think through what his reaction would be since we share an open, honest and respectful relationship. But he quickly demonstrated he was schooled in this area, as many young men are, and that he could handle himself. I’m not sure if this made me more or less worried.
This was a hard conversation. I wanted to offer insight for his reflection and protection without throwing women under the bus. I didn’t need a book, an expert or a previous mistake to know we had to have this discussion. Of course it helps that I have six sons and a strong desire to keep an open dialogue – they don’t necessarily appreciate my candor but at least they know it’s coming. I realized as we tackled this subject, as uncomfortable as it was, it was not only necessary for his understanding and my peace it also continued to build our relationship. One built on love, respect and forgiveness- each person committed to the well being of the other.
Author: Ann-Marie Neme