Noah came home from school on Monday and during supper he said:
Older kids on the playground today said that as you get older you like your parents less and less. Is that true?
… Cue the heartbreak. 😦
I hate so much that kids are planting that idea in my kid’s head. He is in grade three and this was what he was worried about! On one level I’m glad he was worried and questioning if it was true. I’m glad he did the just take what they said as truth. And I’m very glad he felt comfortable coming to talk to us about.
It was a hard question to answer, though, at least honestly. Let’s face it – in a lot of families that is exactly what happens! But we tried to work it out why that might happen to some kids and their parents. What we decided the problem is that a lot of kids don’t feel like their parents trust them and feel like the treat them too young,and that makes the frustrated and annoyed at their parents, so then they break more rules to try to seem more grown up but all that does is make their parents think they are even LESS grown up and that they need more rules. Noah seemed to think that made sense.
I said that we will always try to trust you and trust that you will make good choices. He then brought up how last year no one, not even us his parents, were trusting him or believing him and he was allowed to do hardly anything. Then, without further prompt he added “… But that was when I was lying a lot.” I asked him if he thought he should have been trusted more when he was lying much, and he said no. Then I said, “so right now, you’re doing well in school, you aren’t lying any more, you’re always friendly and polite and nice. How are things now? Do you feel like we’re treating you more grown up?”. He nodded and I said “that’s the trick, honey. The better you behave, the more you make good choices, the more you act grown up, the more grown up we are going to treat you. Not every kid understands that and that is probably why they get so upset with their parents.”
His closing statement on the topic before switching to the “2$ hot dog, 1$ water” song was to say
“well, I hope that never happens to me. “
You and me both, kid. You and me both.
And you know, I am cautiously optimistic that it won’t happen. We have an amazing relationship with that kid, built around mutual respect, mutual boundaries, and shared fun time. I have promised him that I will not lie to him, and I try very hard to hold true to that. I also make a very conscious effort to give him grown up, real answers to his questions. I don’t kid-ify what I tell him or how I answer him, and I think he really appreciates that. I also play with him on his terms and at his level. I go and play with him in the snow. I have water fights with him in the summer time. I play video games with him. Frankly, I’m fun. I think I’m his “fun” parent, and I think that is a pretty wonderful role for a stepmom to have. He sincerely wants to play with me! Just last Saturday I was woken up at 730am by him asking if I was busy. I said that I was in bed trying to sleep, so.. Yeah, kinda busy. But it turned out he had prepared a special set up for me and him to play minecraft. Yeah, I wasn’t busy anymore.
My hope is that as he gets older we will continue to have such an amazing relationship. I have said many many times that I won the stepson lottery. He is just wonderful and thoughtful and fun and funny and loving and just a great kid. I know a lot of step parents have a hard time of it, but I don’t. Sure, there are days when I want to run screaming from the responsibility and noise and effort of it all, but I think ALL parents, both bio and step, have days like that. I love my son and I don’t think I could love him more if he were biologically mine. That kid is an amazing kid, and I feel extremely lucky to have him in my life.
So hopefully, as the years pass, what those older kids on the playground said happens won’t happen. Hopefully he won’t like his parents less and less as he gets older. Sure, I’m sure in time he won’t be as inclined to spend so much time with me and won’t want to play with me as much, but I just hope we always have a healthy, loving relationship.