The Monumental Task of Raising Authentic Sons

Syndicated

humble crownHeavy wears the crown of those raising authentic, charming, and well-mannered sons.

I feel it.

I feel the weight of responsibility not only to my son, and my family, but also my community, and society at large.

My responsibility falls outside the day-to-day rules, manners, work-ethic, and behavior, but also includes the way in which my son interacts with his peers, his teachers and what he thinks about women -- and most importantly how he treats women.

After all, I am the first woman in his life. I have the strongest impact on him, at least initially. Which begs the question, as a woman, what lessons am I teaching my son on a daily basis regarding life, love and relationships?

This epiphany hit me dead in the face one year ago, when I drove my son to pick up his homecoming date.

I walked him to the door, and was invited inside to meet his date and her parents. I tried to make myself as invisible as possible while watching the corsage/boutonniere exchange.

It was darling.

Neither one really knew what to do, and just stuck their hands out straight, offering said flower decoration.

I drove the young couple to dinner, and to the dance, and then picked them up and drove his date home.

Never before had I realized the immense responsibility of teaching my son how to care for a girl. It was ultimately my responsibility to get this young girl home safe and sound. But someday, when I wasn't around, the weight of that responsibility would fall squarely on the shoulders of my young son.

Thud. (That's the sound of immense responsibility.)

Fast forward to my son's Sophomore year, and yet another Homecoming dance.

This year, I followed my son in my car, he in his, to his date's house, and again participated in the witnessing of the corsage/boutonniere hand-off and follow-up photo shoot.

When the kids got ready to leave, I watched as my son's date kissed her mother squarely on the lips, hugged her, and said, "Bye mom, I love you."

I stood there, stock-still, a proverbial deer in the headlights.

I turned to face my son, whom I could sense wanted to melt into the floor.

He ambled over, said a goodbye grunt and the smallest I-can't-believe-I-have-to-hug-her-in-public half-hug.

He drove his date to the dance in his car.

I drove home alone. Sad beyond words. Tears at the ready.

Upon walking in the door, Sexy Hubby, says buoyantly, "Well, how'd it go?"

I couldn't speak.

To utter a single word, and I would have burst into tears.

I attributed the melancholy mood to the fact my baby is growing up before my very eyes.

I wondered, have I prepared him to be a man?

Will he treat women respectfully?

Will he act responsibly? Will he adhere to my earlier lesson regarding intimacy with a girl, No Means No Means No, under any and all circumstances?

Last week, on Back-to-School night, my son and I went to grab a quick dinner before he was to guide me through the maze of hallways and byways to find the classes in which I needed to show my face for him to receive ample extra-credit points.

Dinner was an eye-opening experience.

I was starving and honestly could not shovel food into my pie-hole fast enough, which provided my son room to talk.

And talk he did.

He told me about the now-defunct relationship with said Homecoming date, and how she was dating other guys. He didn't seem bothered by it, which I took as a good sign.

He also began to talk openly and authentically about drugs and drinking. Perhaps the fact that I was starving worked in my favor.

I did most of the eating.

He did most of the talking.

I learned that although my son has never smoked pot, he tells the other kids that he has so they don't bug him about it.

Again, no reply from mouth-full mom.

I also learned that he has drank beer, but not been drunk, but he thinks he knows what it feels like based on what other kids have told him.

Between bites of chips and salsa, I managed to say this. "I don't want you drinking. However, if you find yourself in a spot where alcohol is served and you take so much as a swallow, you call me, no matter what, and I will come pick you up. Please do NOT -- under any circumstances -- drive drunk or get in a car with someone who has been drinking."

I looked into his deep-blue eyes framed with dark brown scraggly hair, and held back tears as I said, "I simply cannot imagine anything happening to you. Or you being responsible for harming someone else."

"Mom, I'm not stupid." That means he heard me, right?

"Mom, you always say you want me to tell you stuff, so I'm telling you stuff."

And for that, I count my lucky stars.

It was a defining parental moment.

Not only was I enjoying precious time with my teenage soon, but he trusted me enough to share confidential data -- and that alone is worth more than its weight in gold.

{You don't want to know about the conversation that ensued on the drive to the high school. It involves body hair and razors - and would definitely classify as "too much blogging information."}

Katie Walters is the author of An Authentic Life, and a regular contributor to Montana Parent Magazine's Website.

Photo Credit: Carlo.Piana.

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