I Want You to Be Safe and Happy.

There is a truce, of sorts, between my teenage son and me.

Dylan has a great heart and is capable of thinking for himself. He’s growing up, and separation from Mom is an essential part of that. I don’t want to keep him under my wing forever. After all, isn’t that the point of parenting – to teach him how to fly all by himself?

My insistence that I be told everything comes from a deep-seated need to control everything. And not only do I not need to be in control of everything, I simply can’t be in control of everything.

I realized that my worries were fairly limited. So I made a list of (hopefully) all of them:

  • shoplifting or stealing
  • smoking cigarettes
  • sniffing/inhaling legal products
  • any kind of legal or illegal drugs
  • non-consensual sexual activities
  • unprotected sex
  • cutting or otherwise harming yourself
  • gambling
  • feeling like you want to hurt yourself
  • feeling like you want to hurt someone else
  • doing anything you know is wrong
  • any other kind of immoral behavior

Then I gave this list to Dylan.

I said, “You don’t have to talk to me, but I want you to be safe and happy. And I don’t expect you to do any of these things, because I think you’re a good kid and you know right from wrong. So if, at the end of the day, you have not done any of these things, just give me a ‘thumbs-up.’ And if you have done any of these things, give me a ‘thumbs-down’ and we will need to talk. Can you agree to that?”

Dylan agreed. I told him I am still there for him if he needs me. Then I asked him if he wanted me to drive him to school in the morning and he said, “No, I’m doing fine.”

And this morning, for the third day in a row, he got up, made himself breakfast, packed himself a lunch, and made it to the bus right on time.

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