My eldest son is on the brink of adolescence. He is changing. We can both see it and neither of us are overly happy about it.
He is such a gentle soul, who doesn’t like change. He needs constant guidance and reassurance as the hormones rage through his body and he battles with these forces he doesn’t understand.
My younger son isn’t too far behind him and before too long I will be living with two teenagers. Male teenagers. As a solo mum, it is a daunting prospect.
I look at the men in their lives and the men that are their ‘role models’ in society and wonder what messages sink in. What do they think it means to be a man?
I hope that how I have raised them has instilled some important foundations for what it means to be a good human. I am proud of who they are. But I know that the forces of peer pressure can make being a teenager a treacherous time.
Here are 5 things I want them to know before they become teenagers:
1. Boys and girls have equal worth. Men do not hold more power than women. Women do not hold more power than men. No body owns you, and you have no right to control or be controlled by someone else. Also, no really does mean NO.
2. Stay true to yourself and your values. There will always be people who try to convince you to do things you know aren’t right or that you aren’t comfortable with. Listen to your inner voice, even if it means making the unpopular or uncool decision.
3. Own your feelings and express them in a healthy way. Don’t bottle things up. Don’t feel like you can’t be mad or sad or scared or confused. Find a healthy outlet to let off steam, be it sport, writing, singing or talking about. It is more manly to show emotion than it is to be a ticking time bomb of repressed feelings.
4. Be responsible for yourself. Learn to cook, look after your things, clean up after yourself. There are no magic fairies and the sooner you learn these life skills the better. Don’t expect anyone else to take care of you, especially not a woman! You are responsible for you.
5. Kindness trumps everything. Be the helpers, the ones who lift people up rather than putting them down. You will make the world a better place and you will be a better person for it.