Friday, December 7, 2012

The Best Advice I Can Give

When I was eight, my mom bought a book called The Parenting Breakthrough. The cover looked like this:

I picked it up partly because I kept seeing it lying around the house and partly because I wanted to know what she was plotting. It actually ended up becoming one of my favorite books. I read it until the cover curled and I could paraphrase entire sections.
Yeah, I was a weird eight year old. Esme, you're not allowed to leave a comment.
I still read any article I see on raising teenagers. It's fascinating to see the other side of things (and, of course, know what they're plotting). There are hundreds of parenting books out there, all of them written by adults, parents and psychologists, people with experience.
There have been days I thought I could write an entire book telling parents what to do. But actually, I think I can get it down to a few sentences.
This first one is the simplified, polite version that sounds like something you'd put on an inspirational plaque:
Listen and be there for them when they need you.
Here's the blunt honesty, euphemism free, real life head on version:
Be there. Teach them to fly but wait to catch them when they fall. And listen- especially when they tell you to shut up and go away. There's so much inside them when they say this that trying to dig in will only make things horrible worse. But when you do shut up and go away, wait and watch from a safe distance. You need to be there for them if only for them to push you away.

They're the same, really, but pick whichever one makes you feel better.

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