Posts Tagged ‘nature vs nurture’

What if who we are isn’t quite enough?

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Most of the time I love being the mother of sons.

Well maybe not today as the wild child hid under the clothing racks in Witchery and then started licking the mirror after he was asked to stand still. Or when I put the cheeky bubba down and they both preceded to wrestle on the floor in fits of laughter.

I know that the energy, the risk taking, the boundary pushing and all the wrestling can seem like hard work now when they are little and pretty much uncontrollable. But as a teacher of teenage boys, I know that this energy, the desire to be and do rather than analyse and doubt can be so positive. I particularly like the immediacy of boys, their innate ability to live in the moment. Often this is frustrating, and as an English teacher, can have negative effects. Some days you long for the perfectionism of some girls, their desire to improve and the work ethic they employ to get the best results. But usually the ability to move on, get over it, laugh at themselves is refreshing and makes it easy and pleasant to be in their company. Boys can forget quickly, they can make the same mistakes over and over and over, wear the consequences and get on with it. My wild child is a bit like this, but he is not quite four, so there is a long road ahead to the grunting years of secondary school.

Yesterday he surprised me. His teacher at daycare told me how she loved how he speaks up for another little boy who is shy and younger than the others. She described my wild child with such tenderness, telling me how he sweetly looks after this other little boy, only a tiny bit littler than him, that I had to look away. It made my heart melt.

Recently, the experiences of two young men have made me question just how much boys, or any child for that matter, are self determined, and how much impact parents can really have. These two young men are in strife. They have massive drug addictions, mental health issues, are engaging in criminal behaviour and are at risk of hurting themselves and others. They come from families that love them, with both parents still happily together and with the best intentions for their sons in the forefront of their busy lives. These parents have done the best with their kids, and yet this is the situation they are now facing. Both talk candidly about the trouble their sons are in, and when you look into their faces as they share their stories, the pain in their hearts is palpable. They know they have made mistakes, as have their sons, but at the moment the consequences are much more difficult for their parents.

These men both have had some difficulty in their lives, but so do a lot of teenage boys and they don’t all turn out like this. So you wonder what went wrong. Do we get a chance as parents to map out their journey, or are we merely observers? Is it our job to know which friends are going to do more harm than good and very carefully steer them in a different direction without making that friendship even more appealing? Is it enough to teach our boys to communicate effectively? Reflect carefully? And know how to reach out to those who will always be there if things do get out of hand? We will make mistakes, as they will, and we have to teach humility with our own examples. But we also have to make them accountable for their behaviour.

And maybe just hope with everything you have that our beautiful boys will continue to surprise us, in the best possible ways.


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