I stood in my kitchen a few months ago, my son a few feet away, and I could just feel the sadness emanating from him, “what’s wrong?” I asked, and, as usual he replied, “nothing, I’m fine.”
I’m not sure how I knew, but I felt it and said to him “Jacob, you know there’s nothing you can’t tell me, if we’ve learned anything from the past few months it’s that your mom has pretty much done everything and doesn’t judge anything.” Rowan looked over at him and said “it’s true, you can tell her anything.” He broke down in that moment, let me hold him and proceeded to tell me everything he’d been bottling up.
It was a breakthrough moment for us, where we both were able to sit and talk as 2 people, not just mom and son.
I had a lightbulb moment a few years ago, a tragedy rocked our small town and put a spotlight on the immense pressure our kids were under when a local child took his own life, and in this moment, I began to question everything I thought I knew about raising teens and being a good parent. I realized it didn’t matter where my kids went to college, or what sorority they were in, what mattered is that they were happy, healthy and listened to.
When our kids were little we had ideas on who they would become, ideas taken from our own families and the ideals we’d grown up with, but as they grew up we realized who they actually were was so much better. When we stopped talking so much and started listening more, we realized what amazing people we were raising.
Open, honest dialogue with my teens had been the best part of doing this show, the issues we’re dealing with, often highlighted in the public, had brought us so much closer, and being able to look at each other and say, “I’m not perfect, but I’m trying, and thank you for understanding,” has given us all such more open, honest and meaningful conversations.
Teens are amazing people, love them the way the are, listen when they talk and give them the love and support to be their authentic selves…..I promise it’s worth it.