Eating my words: epic fail on the raising teenage boy front

So there I was …writing about the eclipse and how we need to be giving our young people the opportunity for direct learning in schools and now I’m eating humble pie…again.

Friday night found us in the village hall playing bingo with lots of other families to raise money for the community playground which is looking rather magnificent and new and soon-to-be-open-again.  We played 6 games and the 3 of us won…nothing.

I had bought raffle tickets, a strip of each colour…and we won…nothing.

‘It wasn’t worth coming’ said Youngest Son…’did we really only come to win?’  I asked and as we talked he decided that it had, after all, been ‘worth it’ to see his friends and to support a good cause and have fun. I thought I handled it well.

Concentrating at bingo
Concentrating at bingo

I should have known better than feel like I had parenting sorted for the night!

Weeks ago, one of the committee members asked me to buy a date in a diary to raise money for the same cause; £1 per day.  I bought 4 days..each of our birthdays…and then forgot about it.

Until Friday…

…when Eldest Son’s birth date was called out and he won £30.

He was sooooo pleased (not least because just an hour before he’s broken into his own money box to get pennies so he could afford the new Match Attack folder).  He just beamed and all his friends were really pleased for him.

Of his own accord he said he would give his brother £10.

And then I messed up.

I told him he had to share it equally with his brother.

So the night ended with ES storming home ahead of us and slamming into the bedroom with me going on and on about being ‘fair’.

I knew I’d got it wrong.

I knew why.  My mum was always 50/50 with my sister and I…very fair..what one had the other had, or neither had.

But 50/50 had caused unhappiness.

So I did what I do when I don’t know how to do something…I looked for help and on a Friday night it was Youtube I turned to.

‘Parents and teenage boys’. He’s not a teenager yet, but it definitely pre-teeny (preeny??).

Of course, what I heard was exactly what I would have told someone else

  1. Listen
  2. Appreciate them
  3. Allow them to learn for themselves and make mistakes as this is how they learn

Ouch to number 3 after last week’s blog!  The irony was not missed.

  • How well do you do those 3 things with your kids?
  • Also how well do we all do them with our friends and partners?

I was talking to a friend the other week about whether or not to push homework or to leave it to them.  ‘The thing is’ he said, ‘kids aren’t allowed to fail nowadays’.  He had ‘failed’ at school.  He was so busy being really successful at his sport that he ‘failed’ at school.

He now has a degree and an MBA as well as having had a successful sporting career..perhaps because of his failures.

  • How have you ‘failed’ in life?
  • Were they really failures?
  • What did you learn from them?
  • Are you able to let your kids fail?

How can ES learn about money and sharing if I don’t let him make his own decisions about it and maybe get it wrong?  Also, should he share? Who said?  That’s my morals…he’s got his own.

P, ever logical pointed out that although mum had done 50/50…this wasn’t the same as it wasn’t me who gave him the £30.  I had equally invested a pound in both of them and as luck would have it, ES won.  ‘If you play random games of chance…that’s what happens’ said P, ‘If you want it to be fair..don’t go to bingo’.

P also pointed out that even if Es only shared a bit, it was still a bit more than YS had 2 hours before.

Hmm.  Good points.

So…the next morning, snuggling in bed I told ES I’d made a mistake and that I was sorry that he’d got so angry when he had been so happy and so spontaneously generous towards his brother.

I handed over the £30 and told him to do what felt right for him and that I would trust and respect his decision.

He kept £20 and gave his brother £10 and both were happy.

So what did I learn?

I learned that I need to butt out and let ES make more of his own decisions as the parent I was to him in primary school is not the parent he needs to allow him to become an adult

I learned that I need more models for raising teenagers and so I’ll be picking people’s brains and  back to Youtube again for inspiration.

I learned that I need to let him experience life directly, even if it means letting him making mistakes (which he didn’t this time…he just did it differently from how I might have done it).

I learned that there is so much more to learn as a parent

I learned that when I listen to him and own up to getting it wrong..he’s mightily forgiving.

Thank goodness…I sense there will be many more of these learnings ahead.

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