I coach a couple who questioned if perhaps, they were expecting too much from their 7th grade son.
In the summer following 5th grade their son wanted a cell phone. With promises and hope they agreed that he would earn a phone when he mastered keeping his grades above a specified level and going to bed and getting up on time without being prompted.
More than a year later, and still not meeting the requirements, their son was angry and frustrated. He accused his parents of treating him unfairly and not getting it. He claimed he’s the only one who doesn’t have a phone. And he asserted that he misses out, is left out and sticks out!
This outcry triggered his parents to question the emotional and social fallout. They wanted to do the right thing, but what it was wasn’t clear. They fretted over the only options they saw: give in and get him a phone or dive deeper and insist that he meet the expectations.
That’s when they contacted me. After some discussion we crafted a plan.
They reassured their son that the three of them still share the same goal of him getting a phone. They reminded him that they believe in him and understand that he feels left out. They asked him to articulate ideas of what he could do differently to improve his grades and master his end of day and morning tasks. And they encouraged him to ask for help and promised to support him in every way possible.
By handing the problem-solving steps to their son and being emotionally sensitive, their son devised strategies that he made work. His parents’ approach was the boost he needed to re-engage and shift his focus to action and away from anger.
Next up on his parents’ agenda is collaborating with their son on phone use and responsibility.
In the weeks before my high school graduation, it hadn’t occurred to me that commencement meant beginning. It felt like another word for ending, notwithstanding the planned celebrations. Truth be told, I wasn’t ready to start something new.
I wanted to savor the sweetness of my friends. And continue walking into the building greeted by the stenciled words “The Best People on Earth Walk These Halls.” At the same time, I knew we’d already signed papers of separation disguised as college housing agreements, military enlistments, and training programs.
We’d begun with unsteady steps in Mrs. Morgan’s kindergarten class. We added new pals along the grades, lost teeth and got braces. We survived puberty, received honors, and questioned our parents. We fell in and out of love, played to win, and learned to manage time. We suffered for releasing chickens imprisoned in shopping bags from atop the bleachers at a basketball game and driving too fast and too late at night.
On that last day of high school, we walked arm in arm, laughing as ribbons of tears streaked our cheeks, down that long hall relishing all that had been fun and good. Certainly more confident, capable and kind than our freshmen counterparts. The pain of disappointments and the trials of troubles transformed into wisdom and grace and steel.
Looking back at my 17-year-old self with my gaggle of friends, I see a brave blur, flinging open the doors and leaping into the unknown. Yes, we’d march to Pomp and Circumstancethe next day and move our tassels from right to left, but this was our launching.
Thank you for all you do raising your unique children,