Parenting from a different perspective.

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My son side eyeing me. Photo courtesy of author.

Answer the whys.

I explained things to him when he was old enough to understand, and I answered all his “whys.” If I didn’t know an answer, I admitted it. If I realized I didn’t have a good reason for something I wanted him to do or stop doing, I would say, “Well hell,” under my breath, and then tell him never mind. What I did not say is, “Because I said so,” no matter how desperately I wanted to. And I so desperately wanted to.

Sometimes, as in when there is danger, there isn’t time for answers.

Those rare times became learning experiences for the future. Once, when he was four and would stand on a chair and “play” a video game in our favorite pizza place, was one of those times. When we parked, there were two guys in the parking lot arguing. After I placed Blake in his chair in front of the machine next to the entrance, I sat at a table on the other side of the entrance.

Apologize when you are wrong.

I always apologized to him when I was wrong. I still do. From hearing me apologize, he learned to do it too. I apologized whenever I lost it temporarily and raised my voice. Or when I didn’t follow through on something. From that, he learned that people, even Mommies, make mistakes. And that most mistakes are survivable.

Tell the truth.

Because I tell him the truth, he tells me the truth. At least the vast majority of the time. The few times he didn’t, he came back and admitted it later. I did the same. There was one specific time I answered his question, then had to go back and answer again. The real truth.

Give children choices.

I know parents who argue with their children about clothes, food, chores, ad infinitum. I won’t pretend none of that happened with my son. He’s pretty hard headed. Which is good, because he often has to run into a wall to get the lesson, so he needs a hard head. It’s bad when he holds out until I give in. So, early on, I would put out two sets of clothes for him, and tell him to choose. This cut down on arguments and tantrums getting ready for school and or going out. I also had to assure him that his choice made him look cool, the ultimate goal from then through today. He’s 27, and the coolest guy around.

Have fun together as least as often as you do chores.

This is one of the biggest keys to growing a friend. Better yet, make chores fun whenever possible. When you’re having fun, it’s hard for either of you to get mad. My son and I have hiked, hot tubbed, taken photos, and played on his trampoline. I have cheered for hundreds of basketball games. I have watched him snow ski and snow board while I waited below with a hot toddy. I took him to the X Games and marveled with him at the stunts. We have enjoyed many a beach. We still have fun together. As friends do.

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The smaller footprint is mine. They said he would be big. They were right. Photo by author.

Psychotherapist, Hypnotherapist. Leans Left. Mindfulness practioner before it was cool. M.Ed., LPC.

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