Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Brotherly Love – NOT! August 23, 2013

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fightingIt’s been a big week in the home of the men-children.  Perhaps something had been bubbling along beneath the surface, waiting to explode, just like the head of a giant teenage pimple.  What started out as a simple argumentative exchange across the dinner table (over absolutely nothing of course) escalated into an all in brawl upstairs and some pretty hideous outcomes for both of them.  It was so bad, even Sister of a Man-Child was upset and crying over the fracas upstairs.  When time passes I might be able to share the exact details, but suffice to say we were still dealing with the fallout the following day and into the next night.

I went to work completely exhausted, feeling like I had done ten rounds with Rocky Balboa myself.  Father of a Man-Child and I managed to debrief during the day, and both planned our individual approaches to dealing with the event.  He, a much more calm influence, was happy to talk to the boys about what happened and how to avoid future incidents.  Me, a little more intense, and prone to getting excited (okay, read yelling), decided to take the other approach, penning a letter to the boys that day and hand delivering it to them both before dinner.  I think sometimes it’s better for them to read something, reflect, and re-read it if need be.

We spent a fairly tense night with continued discussions (arguments) about their behaviour, the causes behind it, our expectations of their future behaviour, and negotiations about the damage and what we would cover (absolutely zero by the way – they break it, they pay for it).  I ended the night even more drained, with a quick text to them both:  “Goodnight boys.  Tomorrow is a new day.  Let’s make a fresh start.  You have two parents and a sister who love you both and just want a happy family at home. xo.”

Sister of a Man-Child subsequently told me that she had wanted to hug both the boys after being so upset.  I agreed with her sentiment completely.  So we did exactly that the next day!  We gave them both a huge, big hug each.  We didn’t say anything, because we didn’t need to.  They knew we were saying to them it’s all okay, it’s all in the past, it’s all forgiven, and we love you.  Do you know how good it felt to hug my bigger than me, gorgeous boys?  I hope it felt as good for them as it did for us.   And I think we should do more of it.  The human connection that comes with a physical hug, the reminder of your family’s unconditional love and the sense of security that touch communicates is pretty powerful.  For whatever reason, I hug my daughter every day when I head off to work, and sitting on the couch at weekends, but as our teenagers grow up, that seems to diminish (I suppose understandably).

So, I am planning to hug my boys more often.  And maybe I can use it as my new secret weapon to diffuse future fights and arguments.  Don’t yell, just hug them into submission!! 🙂

Do you have teenage boys or did you have teenage brothers?  Did they fight physically?  Tell me mine are normal (if a little extreme)!

It’s not the first fight they’ve had of course:  read more here and here.

PS.  That is NOT a picture of my men-children!


Negotiating with a teenager! May 17, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 5:00 pm
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angry boyFor those who followed my recent journey with a man-child, which resulted in me making some serious (and foolish) threats, you might be wondering how things ended up.  Well as promised, we did sit down with said man-child, and had a very frank conversation about what we expected IF he stays at TAFE, and IF he chooses to live at home.  And we insisted that IF that was the case, he HAD to agree to our conditions for living under our roof, particularly as he is still not 18 (and to be frank, even afterwards).

We also added that we are not actually unreasonable parents, and that he just needs to “suck it up” occasionally, and just accept NO for an answer.  We even made him literally say the words in agreement, so he couldn’t say his grunt was misinterpreted (and people wonder why I am cynical)!  So naturally he spent that night at home, but had the rest of the weekend out with friends, as was his wish.

What followed the next Friday though was the stuff of text books.  Man-child walks into kitchen and casually asks if he can go out that night.  I immediately tell him that no he cannot go out since he spent the day at home, missing school, due to being unwell the previous night.  He looks at me in complete shock, and proceeds to attempt to enter into a debate with me (yes the exact behaviour we had expressly asked him not to exhibit every Friday night).  I park the conversation, and tell him to ask Father of a Man-Child when he arrives home.  Naturally the response is identical – you spent the day at home, you can’t possibly go out tonight, etc etc.

So then the tirade starts, the constant “why”, and “why not”,” what a stupid rule”, “what is your problem” etc etc.  We just let it run its natural course, and eventually he stopped long enough to eat dinner (food is a good alternative to arguing you know).  Then to our surprise (and my sister’s), we eventually made the decision to let him out.  Why you may ask?  Because we decided to reward him.  Yes that’s right, to actually try the opposite tack.  Now whilst you may be thinking that he did exactly what we asked him not to do (nag), the fact is he did stop.  So we chose to reward that behaviour, and let him know that the simple stopping nagging was enough to earn him some brownie points.

So did it change anything?  Well I am not really sure.  We shall see what the next few Friday nights brings.   And we will just keep trying to keep him on the right path, and ensuring that he at least respects us as his parents, and our decisions.

So what do you think, other parents of teens or toddlers?  Is punishment or reward the way to go?  Which one has worked for you in the past?  Or is reasoning the way to go (me thinks not based on experience)!!

If you missed the fun of my original encounter you can read more here:  Choose your words wisely!