Today’s guest post is from my darling eighteen year-old son, Ben. He offered to write a post last Spring, and with the craziness of girls’ camp in my life this week, it seemed like the perfect time to cash in the favor. I’ve left it largely unedited; I love reading the fresh, raw opinions of my boy and his friends. –Michelle Lehnardt, Segullah Blog Co-Editor
My boxes aren’t exactly packed, but I’ve been sorting through my clothes, searching for a sturdy bike lock and asking my mom a little more often than usual, “How do you cook _______?”
In two weeks I’ll be at BYU, away from home for the first time in my life. As you can imagine, my mom has been pretty emotional about my departure. It probably wasn’t very nice of me, but I took her to Toy Story 3 with full knowledge that she’d cry through the whole movie (I should have brought more Kleenex).
But her influence in my life isn’t over. As much as my mom dislikes driving, I’m pretty sure she’ll make the trek to Provo pretty often to bring me cookies, walk through the art museum with me and, hopefully, restock my fridge.
And as I prepare to go on a mission this winter I’ll also be depending on my mom to navigate all that suit shopping for me (I really, really despise the mall).
Mothers receive very little appreciation in our culture. I’m as guilty of this as anyone else—I just don’t remember to thank her for dinner and new pencils and life. And sadly, when I’m frustrated, it’s usually my mom who gets the brunt of my bad temper. Despite this, my undying gratitude for my mother endures.
You might be surprised, but last year, when my friends and I formed a pre-mission study group, one of our oft-repeated topics was our admiration for our mothers. I have a great group of friends—they do well in school, read their scriptures and try to keep the standards of the church—but they struggle with temptation just like anybody else. One week, when discussing the Army of Helaman, we made a list of what we wish every parent of teenagers (especially teenage boys) knew:
- Be there. It might sound babyish, but we all agreed that we like our moms to be home as much as possible—breakfast, after school, at midnight after a date. A lot of moms “check out” of parenting when their kids are in high school, but we still need them. This doesn’t necessarily mean not working or pursuing their own interests (because only Siths deal in absolutes), but every kid likes to feel like they are top priority in their mother’s life. To be honest, children aren’t proud of their parent’s accomplishments the way parents admire their children’s. People comment to me all the time about the amazing things my mom can do but I’m just glad that she’s an amazing mother to me.
- Don’t be afraid to set strict rules about movies, music and television. A lot of parents seem to be afraid of their teenagers, but honestly, we like limits. And besides, it’s really embarrassing to go to a trashy movie with a cute Mormon girl.
- Speaking of girls, talk to your kids early about the kind of person you’d like them to date. I thought it was strange that my mom talked to me about nice girls when I’d barely learned to tie my shoes, but when I got older I wasn’t blindsided by the trashy, fast girls. Mom taught me to look for kindness, quiet beauty, testimony.
- Be aware of porn. Yeah, this could be umbrellaed under number two, but pornography is such a huge issue that it needs it’s own bullet point. Don’t kid yourselves moms, no boy escapes the temptation of pornography. And I don’t care if you have a kid who reads the Book of Mormon every two weeks and helps old ladies across the street—he’s tempted too. Do your boys a favor and keep the computers out in the family room; change the passwords every week. Be wary of giving kids their own laptop or iPhone—the temptation is just too much. Talk to your boys about porn; tell them that you trust them. But make it easier to keep that trust.
- Live your testimony. A hundred family home evenings can’t match the decisions I see my parents make when attending church while on vacation, handing back the extra $20 the cashier mistakenly gave in change and shoveling the walks at the church.
- Love them. Teenagers aren’t much different from little kids. We might not want to sit on your lap, but we want to be told that you love us, we want you to be proud when we do something well and yeah, sometimes a hug and a kiss are OK too.