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mom and teenage son

My son is not only the love of my life, he IS my life!

This whole journey of being a parent has given me so many lessons not only about raising a child but also about discovering myself as a mom!

When my son was just a baby, I never could have imagined how fast time would fly by. One minute, he was taking his first steps, and the next, he was asking to drive my car. Now, as a teenager, he's growing into his own person with his own thoughts and opinions, and I'm constantly in genuine awe of the young man he's becoming.

Raising a boy as a single mom has been quite a challenge. Relationships and friendships with men and having male siblings don't quite prepare you for actually raising a boy, especially as they grow into their teens. There was so much I was new to and was learning on the go.

Books might have helped if all boys were moulded the same. The thing is they're all uniquely their own person going through their own unique experiences. Unfortunately, it's not a one size fits all kind of thing so a piece of advice that might work for one might not work for the other and you find that you have to find your own formula for raising your child.

Raising my son through the different stages of his life has brought about different sets of experiences, the good and the bad. If anyone were to ask me which phase I loved the most, I really wouldn't have an answer because I loved every phase just as much as the one before as well as the one after. They are all filled with different milestones and different experiences and we were both always at different stages of our growth, him as a boy and me as a mom. It wasn't always easy but we both had lots of fun nonetheless.

As parents, we often talk about how hard parenting a teenager is but being a teenager is not easy as well. I understand that completely and I have a lot of empathy for teenagers these days. They are under constant pressure. The pressure they put on themselves as well as that put on them by society. They are often misunderstood because as parents, we often relate their experiences to our own and we often forget that they are growing up in a different time, in a different world. Nothing is quite the same. We even choose to parent differently from how our parents used to parent us.

You're never really prepared for the teenage years until you go through it with your teenager. Of course, I often talk to my son about my experiences as a teen myself and share the differences and we've both come to a conclusion that it was much simpler then and cannot be used as a yardstick to all the experiences and pressures that he is going through.

As a single mom to a teenage boy, one of the most difficult aspects of this phase of his life has been helping him navigate the pressures of school and his 'path towards the future'. The pressure is so intense, even I can'y help but feel it as well. No doubt, the teenage years can be a time of great insecurity and uncertainty, and it's so important that we provide our teens with a supportive and stable environment for them to grow and develop. I would literally fight tooth and nail for him to have this space for him.

Often wondering whether I'm giving the right advice and afraid to say the wrong things, I have made myself try as hard as I possibly can to learn and understand the intricacies of being a teenager today. I have had lots of conversations, had my own meltdowns, shared his meltdowns and have opened my heart and mind to my son's world. I wouldn't have been able to understand him if I didn't. It would've been easier to just ignore everything and go on with life, but that's not the type of mom I wanted to be. It's a choice that I made.

I've heard so many misconceptions relating to teenage boys and some common ones are that they're lazy, unmotivated, irresponsible, violent and aggressive, obsessed with sex, and likely to indulge in risky behaviour. I just think it's unfair to make a sweeping generalisation about an entire gender especially when we know for a fact not all teenage boys are like that.

As a single mom, when my son was entering his teenage years and reading about all that I should expect in a teenage boy, I was really afraid. I wouldn't have known how to handle these behaviours on my own if it came to the extent of what I was reading about. I didn't know how my son would behave and I didn't know exactly how to react. After all, reading about it and experiencing it yourself are two totally different things!

Fast forward a couple of years I can confidently say, the teenage years are not as bad as it is made out to be, at least from my own personal experience. It's not all without any frustration, heartbreak or anxiety, but let me tell you that raising a teenage boy is also fun! They are so entertaining!

When my son reached 14 or 15, I noticed that he started spending more time in his room. He was no longer as chatty as his younger self. There were days when my son was quiet and distant, and I often wondered what was going on in that world of his. Afraid to ask in case I'd be overstepping his boundaries, instead I skirt around hoping he'll want to share what's happening without me having to sink my nails into it. Sometimes he volunteers information and sometimes he doesn't, and that's okay.

It can be hard not to take it personally when they seem distant or uninterested in spending time with you. But I've learned that sometimes they just need space to process their emotions and thoughts, and I've found that being patient and understanding goes a long way. But I've also learned that this is a natural part of their development, and it's important to give them the room to do that, while also being available for them when they need guidance and support.

Perhaps the most important thing I've learned as a single mom raising a teenage son is the value of open communication. I'm a single mom and he's an only child so we only have each other under one roof. I want him to be able to come to me for anything and I want to be able to talk to him openly about everything.

So, whether or not, he's in the mood to talk to me, I've always made myself available to him and I made sure that he knew. So whenever he does get into conversation with me, I literally drop everything and he is what I focus on.

I have found that once I showed him that kind of respect and interest, the conversations started flowing. Now nothing is off limits and conversations with my teen are often full of insight. I've been given the opportunity to be exposed to his way of thinking, his hopes and dreams, and his fears and insecurities. It's nice. I just love the conversations I have with him.

Talking to your teen about their hopes, fears, and concerns is key to building a strong relationship with them. It's not always easy to have these conversations, but they are essential to helping your teen navigate the challenges of their teenage years. I've found that in the midst of my son thriving and relishing in his own independence, and it might appear that he might not need me around, I know that it helps to be present and available whenever he needs to talk. Bottomline is they need you even though they act as if they don't.

By being present and engaged in my son's life, I've been able to build a bond with him that is built on trust, communication, and unconditional love.

Of course, it's not always sunshine and roses, We do have disagreements and misunderstandings and regardless of how difficult it is, we make sure that we sort things out.

What I also love about having a teenager, especially the one I have is how supportive he is towards everything I do. Whether it's about my dreams and hopes, or the more serious conversation on how I'm going to fill my time once he goes away to university, or something as simple as taking up a new hobby - he is my no. 1 supporter and I am truly appreciative that he has the maturity and grace to actually give me the encouragement and push that I sometimes need but won't admit to. Every time he slips in a kudos to me for wanting to try something new, I smile, realising that I do have someone who supports me and that someone is a person that actually matters to me.

In many ways, raising a teenage son has been a journey of self-discovery for me as well. It's forced me to confront my own biases and limitations and to be more patient and understanding. It's also shown me the resilience and strength that I possess as a mother. When times are tough, I've learned to dig deep and find the strength to keep going.

But perhaps the most rewarding part of raising a teenage son as a single mom is the bond we share. We've been through so much together, and our relationship is built on trust, communication, and unconditional love. I feel incredibly grateful for the deep connection we have, and I know it will only continue to grow as he enters adulthood.

Raising a teenage son as a single mom is not always easy, but it is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Watching my son become the incredible young man that he is today has been an honour and a privilege, and I am and will forever be grateful for the opportunity of being part of his life.


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