Posted by: An Authentic Life on May 02, 2012
Following up a post I wrote a few weeks ago, I attended an early childhood class to evaluate for a blog, one thing that stuck with me – like a thorn in my side – was when the instructor said, “You want your children to feel safe enough to speak to you now –as down the road when they are teenagers it only gets worse if they feel like they aren’t heard.”
This is great news for the parents of the class – with children under 6 years old.
This is awful news for me, with my youngest child at 17 years old. My heart sank.
One thing you realize as a parent of older children, you don’t get “do-over’s” especially when your child is staring down the final block of their high school career.
Looking around the room at these hopeful parents, I must admit, I felt deflated.
My time for “teachable moments” - like my ovaries - had all but dried up.
I didn’t have “all those years” to work on improvement. They were now behind me.
I could only hope and pray that somehow, somewhere, some little nugget had sunk in along the way…
The very next day, our son came home from school, walked directly into our home office - where both his father and I work - and began talking.
And not just talking, but spewing a story.
I purposely turned away from my computer, and looked directly at my son, hands folded neatly on my lap. I was not going to let this chance to listen to my son pass me by.
I was ready.
And as I’ve learned from a few times in the past, the less I said, the more he said.
My son began telling us about a girl in one of his classes who had begun to gain weight, but my son didn’t want to say anything. Today, the girl had a photo on her desk and says to my son, “Want to see a picture of my unborn baby?”
“You’re pregnant?” My son said, half-shocked.
After confirming, their conversation moved to discussing her plan to keep the baby, how she was going to get a job, etc.
This whole time, I sat in my chair, looking up at my son, and nary a word passed my lips.
Finally (and just like the class instructor taught us) instead of immediately spouting my own opinions, I simply said, “Wow. What do you think of that?”
To which my son replied, rather emphatically, “Mom, a 17- year old can’t raise of a baby?”
I sat there, bathed in the glory of trust.
Trust that our son could and would speak openly to us about a very serious subject.
It was textbook.
And we passed the test.
I guess we have done something right in the past 17 years.
Even though most days, we only see our son’s thin shadow walk quickly past us before secluding himself in his room - we have “reached” him.
In some tiny, minuscule way, we have communicated to him that we are here if or when he wants to talk.
And we were both wise enough to know when to sit quietly and listen.
I suppose it's never too late for even parents to learn a lesson!
Mother of three, Katie Walters is the author of An Authentic Life, a member of BlogHer.com and is proudly invited to share within the pages of Montana Parent Magazine's website.