A Father and a Son Night

Friday night my son and I connected…or in his words bonded.  At least for the night. As the father of a sixteen year old I strive for moments not breakthroughs.

At school grades in a couple of classes had fallen on top of last semester’s finals not going as well as expected. Nothing earth shattering but of concern to a concerned parent. Unfortunately and unsuccessfully my style of dealing with these issues has become command and control rather than inquisitive and supportive.

Last night we were having our usual “loud banter” going nowhere. He was defensive in his approach to the issues and totally offensive in his approach to me. I sent him to his room knowing he HATES when I try to do that. That is a little kid punishment he claims. My brilliant retort was that while he is no longer a little kid, he was acting like one. Sitcom level parenting at best, I admit.

Sometimes our best moments come after a blow up. He came out of his room and we both talked and listened. With respect for each other. I did at one point state how some things will change but at least I added why and asked for his thoughts and reactions. His body language became very tense so I waited and let him know that he could have time to sort things out rather than respond now.

I assumed he was just angry at me. Well you know what they say about assuming. He then opened up about some feelings and self-insight that surprised and delighted me. He was thinking about himself in ways that I had not imagined. It was a really, really, really good father-son moment.

We agreed on the choice of take out for dinner–he drove. We agreed on how much time would be spent on homework that night. I agreed to let him participate in his fantasy baseball draft. We discussed how time would be allocated this weekend and throughout the remainder of the semester.

One of the more interesting parts of this night was when we discussed how to, and how not to communicate with each other. He takes some of my hand gestures and looks as disrespectful. I can respect that. I suggested that he should avoid statements such as “There is no way I can do homework right when I come home from school. NOBODY does.”  Instead, letting his mom or me know that it would be helpful to have a little down time before jumping into homework might actually get him what he wants. We discussed the importance of defining what a little time meant in actual minutes.

This was not a life altering night. It was a beginning of a better relationship.  Someone learned a lot last night. Yes I do mean me.

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