Thursday, October 23, 2008

The teenage boy....

On Sunday, my baby turns 13. A teenager. A rite of passage. Almost a man, but not quite (even though his voice changed sometime over the past year and sounds like a man)... A 13 year old boy.

Totally, completely, thoroughly unlike a teenage girl. But, I already knew that, because he has always been different than the girl.

I don't know how to do this. A teenage boy? Forget about the hormones raging amok. I don't know how to raise a teenage boy. My daughter tells me all the time... "When I was his age (whatever age that might be at any given time) you didn't let me do "that" " (whatever "that" was at any given moment).

My pathetic answer? "He's a boy" Her replies, "So what" or "That shouldn't matter" or even "That's sexist". Heh. I suppose it is sexist, it's also a double standard, one I really don't want to teach my kids, I'd rather teach them equality. Yet, it almost seems impossible in this situation.

I try and explain that things are different today (at any given moment) then when she was his age (whatever age that may be at the time). She calls my bluff every time, to a certain degree.

As I try to teach her to be a strong independent woman, to not rely on anyone but herself, that she can do anything she puts her mind to, anything that any man can do, she can do (certainly we both know there are a few things men can do that she can't do, but I'm not talking about those things)... I'm also inadvertently teaching her that because her brother is a boy, he gets to do more than what she got to do when she was his age. I don't know how "not" to do this. And she is right, "So what if he is a boy, I didn't get to do those things when I was his age".

But honestly, it "is" different. At least it seems to be different here, but this could be because I am ignorant to the ways of a teenage boy. I can only go by what I remember seeing how teenage boys acted, unlike knowing from experience, how a teenage girl may act, even though my daughter is nothing like I was at her age now and even when she was younger. That's mostly due to the fact that I raised her (and him) differently than how I was raised.

With both of them now, I have entered uncharted waters. She, at nearly 18, is far more trustworthy, honest, conscientious, sheltered, less street smart and other things, than when I was her age. I'd already been working full time for years, already had my own place to live, paid all my bills on my own, dropped out of high school and at 18, moved to Hawaii for a year. He, at nearly 13, is still a year away from when I began working, having sex, falling in love for the first time (something neither has had happen to, as of yet). She is far more level headed than I was, he is far more street smart than she was.

Not to sound to redundant...

I don't know how to raise a boy, for the most part. I have tried to teach him to respect women, all women, including his sister and mother. I don't know yet if I have failed or not. I've tried to teach him right from wrong and often times I think I have failed with that. I've tried to teach him that I will get more angry if he lies, than if he screws up and tells me the truth about that screw up. Not much different than what I have taught her, but it "feels" different.

There are things, that only a father can teach a son. I've tried to cross that barrier, since there isn't a father in the picture, there really isn't any type of male role model, other than my father, yet he has characteristics I don't want my son to have, not to mention he isn't around now AND he has always treated both kids differently. He is partial to girls. He never raised a boy either, well that's not entirely true, he helped raise my stepbrother, but my stepbrothers father was in the picture and wouldn't allow my father (much like my father wouldn't allow my stepfather) to discipline him and other things I don't need to go into here... so he's really not that much of a male role model.

Perhaps, if I just focus on teaching him right from wrong and the other things I mentioned, it will all fall into place. However, because he "is" a boy, he does get to do things at his age that my daughter didn't get to do. It just happens. So, how do I explain it to my daughter without sounding like I am sexist or making her feel like she is less than, just because she is female.

I don't know. I guess I need to just take it as it comes and try and remind her that she isn't less than just because she is female and just see what happens. Blah.

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