Guest blogger Michelle Kemper Brownlow: One day a couple of years ago, I made a comment about a nasty teen my kids and I saw while out. "You will understand when you hit the magic 13 and you decide you are the most important person in the world and are completely annoyed with me," I said.
Both kids assured me that there would NEVER be a day when they wouldn't want to crawl up in my lap and snuggle. Fast-forward to this week: My son is a mere two weeks from the magic number 13, and there are some days when I have no idea who this gawky, brace-faced, annoyed kid is.
Having grown up with a sister, I just assumed that teen drama was reserved for girls. I didn't realize that boys' self-esteems could hit rock bottom, too. Never did I guess that my son would find it hard to let go of a sharp comment a friend made. I had no idea of the range of emotions we would visit in our home in a 24-hour timeframe.
At first, I played it down. Maybe the less of an "event" it was, the less it would bother him. But when I saw the look in his eyes when he turned and walked away, I realized that just because he was a boy didn't mean he didn't deserve the gentle treatment I would have offered my daughter.
For many years, society taught that boys were supposed to be tough and not show weakness, and I found myself teetering on the edge of trying to make my son strong by not feeding into his drama. But why did I do this? Why did I almost cheat my boy out of the sensitive nature we, as women, look for in a mate?
I changed one thing: I "tuned in." It takes some slowing down from our busy lives, but it has make a world of difference. I probe with gentle questions when he comes home from school. I stopped being a stickler for bedtime; if he wants to talk, we talk ... for hours, if need be. If he is feeling snuggly, we snuggle -- and if not, we don't.
That little bit of extra time will someday reflect on how he "tunes in" to his wife and children. Maybe I will see that, if I live through the drama of the next one to hit the teens ... because SHE is 12 and she is a girl!