Single Mom Slice Of Life:
Other People’s Teens And The Joy They Bring
You have no idea how excited I am to write this piece! Normally, when I write about my kids, I do so with a little bit of embarrassment. After all, my kids fight and, though well-behaved in public, are delinquents at home. They talk back, roll their eyes, and are responsible for each of the gray hairs on my head. I have worked hard to raise productive, kind, caring, giving members of society and though I am the niece of the Good Enough Guru; I don’t have a reputation to protect, but if I did, I would want to!
So, when I stood, staring at two teenagers throwing things at each other in the middle of the grocery store, I admit, I smiled. Neither of the two obnoxious teens was mine! When our office temporarily hired a teenager to keep up on filing, I was a little shocked that she quit. Okay, I’m not really shocked she quit, I’m shocked that she walked away from the job with no notice because we had also hired another temporary person to answer phones and her feelings were hurt.
I realized I’m nowhere near as embarrassed about my teens as I could be. Admittedly, I did come home and ask, “Do you know where a stamp goes on an envelope?” (Yes, they do, by the way.) It turns out a lot of what we were taught by our parents, and by schools, is not necessarily being passed along to the next generation.
My oldest will be a senior this year, and has only had to take two years of history. They literally don’t offer it in the first two years of high school. Perhaps a sign of changing times, but gone are classes that teach how to balance a checkbook, common etiquette (for instance, maybe we don’t say, “hold on a sec” when answering a professional phone line), and yes, how to send a regular piece of mail. I’ve seen teens actually growl, roll their eyes openly in public, and talk back to people who are NOT their own parents.
It is my belief (and I may be alone in this way of thinking) that for all the time spent in schools – and yes, teachers play a huge part -ultimately it is the parent’s job to make sure the kids are ready for the world (<—–Tweet this) and society in general, by the time they leave our homes.
So how do you know you’re succeeding? I wish I knew. I like to think I see signs of respect and maturity every once in awhile. I smile at the please and “thank yous”, the “sirs” and “ma’ams”, and when I see them holding doors open. I frown when I am asked to judge who won the fart contest, or why I should really consider trading one brother in for a poster of Kim Kardashian in a silver pant suit. Hey, you win some, you lose some.
In this case, I’m winning more than I’m losing. I spot check Facebook posts and text messages. I have seen advice given to friends in need, support for gay friends who feel out of place, and apologies for situations where they were in the wrong. If they can do that on their own, under the perceived protection of passwords, then I have done my job well. Since being given a regular allowance they have learned to differentiate want and need, and if it is REALLY something they want to pay for (it really would have helped if they could have done that when I was the one doing the paying, but oh well).
I may not have a lot of money to pass on to them, and I don’t have the ability to give them their every heart’s desire, but I have given them a solid foundation, the work ethic to obtain it, and the sense of respect to guide the way.
Now, if only I can figure out how to make them take out the trash without being asked…
What have you seen outside of the home that has made you realize how well you were doing with your kids? What lessons do you think kids today aren’t learning? Share in the comments!
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Wendy Syler Woodward has been a single parent since 2002, with two boys ages 13 and 18. Originally from southern California, Wendy moved her family to Phoenix where she manages a law firm for work, writes for fun, and has returned to college for her B.A. Follow her on Twitter @WendySyler.