Monday, July 5, 2010

Navigating Those Growing Up Years

I have been watching Matthew at various functions we have been going to and when he has friends's facinating, watching him morph depending on the people he's around.

Which makes me quake, actually.

I know, we have raised our kids to make the best choices and hang around the "right" people...we have told them to be themselves and to put themselves in situations that will make them better...

But we have to let go and let them make those decisions.

Matthew is a sensitive, loving kid. He has a sweet innocence and dotes on his little brothers...which I love about him. He is going to make an AWESOME dad some day.

But he's not "cool." He doesn't have the older brother or sister -- he's forging his own way. I will also admit he's a follower. He will try out different phrases (my favorite, "I have to take a leak.") and gestures (Waltzed up to the refrigerator, grabbed the milk and drank straight from the carton -- he did that ONCE, by the way) to show his blooming independence.

Here's the thing. He imitates what he sees, and lots of times what he's seen neatly wrapped up in 30 minutes on "Drake and Josh" is not how it works in real life. We've had bumps in the road with friends, a bully, and responsibility issues already. Luckily for me, Matt will talk to me about it, but I don't know how much longer that will happen.

Rather than sitting back and fretting, I am going to try something. I am going to be on a mission to find books that deal with characters growing up and the issues around that. I will strategically "plant" them for him to read.

I don't know if it will be looking for needles in a haystack, but I am going to try. And I will read them, because I want them to show him ways that kids have handled things, good/bad/better decisions...I know there are lots of girl books with the theme of "mean girls" and how to handle it, so I am sure there is material for boys too.

When I talk to parents, this is a common thread of to help tweens and teens make wise choices in a world where they are exposed to such a gamut -- technology has brought everything to their computer screens. How do we keep our kids safe? Happy? Somewhat innocent in a fast paced world?

We know that studies show friends are a bigger influence on kids' behavior during this time than what can we do?

I am going to turn to the written word...the world of characters and situations I can know about.

Hopefully after reading, Matt will have learned some different ways "kids" have made the journey through these formative (and hard) years -- and will be able to think about those as he makes his own.

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