My son doesn’t want his friends to come over to our house these days. Apparently his mother embarrasses him so badly he can’t bear it. I guess walking around my own home happily asking my son and his friends if they want cookies and seeing what kind of toppings they want on their pizza is so humiliating, he can’t stand it.
However my daughter, on the other hand, has been having her girlfriends over more often which is a change from just a year ago. She no longer cringes when I ask them what they want for dinner or what’s new in their world. This makes me deliciously happy since last year at this time I was asking her and her friends if they needed help with their hair before the semi-formal dance and it was a big problem. I guess asking to help them is frowned upon and I hadn’t gotten the memo.
Some of my friends’ moms were important to me when I was growing up
Growing up, I’d galavant around town with lots of my friends and end up at someone’s house for the evening on the weekends. There were very few parents who seemed to take an interest in the ‘going ons’ of teenage life. Most of them were tired from work and needed to unwind at night, which I get. They were all cordial, but there were a couple of my friends’ parents who stood out to me.
I remember how they made me feel and think they are branded in my mind as role models because it felt good to be seen and noticed by other adults. Those parents, the ones who wanted to know about a summer job, a boyfriend, or my parent’s divorce, had more of a place in my heart than they knew.
I remember a few of them leaning in close and putting down their fork at the dinner table when I answered a question they’d asked me. I remember them bringing me along with their kids on long drives to the mall. I remember walking on the beach and talking with them for hours. I remember feeling safe to be myself in front of them.
They made me feel like I could come to them with anything if I felt like I couldn’t go to my own parents. And I did a few times. These people took me in and seemed to understand me in a way I didn’t know another adult could.
I want to give that back to my teens’ friends. I want them to feel at home around me. I want them to know nothing is off limits and while I’ll never replace their parents, I want them to understand that I am another person who is there to listen to them. We could all use more people like that in life, right?
I want my teens’ friends to know I’m here for them
I also want to leave the gates open and let them know that I am available for them to talk to if they think my child may be doing or thinking of doing something harmful to themselves or others. After all, teenagers usually share a lot more with their friends than they do with their parents. Would they feel safe coming to me when they think my child is in trouble if I’m haven’t gotten to know them? I highly doubt it.
They won’t feel good about telling me their struggles if I don’t make them feel welcome in my home and make cookies for them and see that they are safe under my roof. You never know how a small, kind gesture can change someone’s life. And teenagers are looking for those people they can trust whether they admit it or not.
So, it really doesn’t matter if I’m annoying my teenagers right now because I’m curious about them and their friends and about what’s going on in all of their lives. At the very least, I want them to feel comfortable around me. And in the best case scenario I want them to feel like they have someone they trust who they can come to with anything.
I know for me, a few of my friends’ parents gave me a sense of security that was irreplaceable and it meant a lot to me and even if it embarrasses my kids, I have that kind of love to give away.
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