Smiles,Hugs and Teenagers

My son and I were talking on the phone last night, and he made a comment which I thought needed further explanation.  When I started to give it, he said, “Mom, I know you can’t see me over the phone, but I’m joking.”

Oh. I didn’t get his joke at first, but I did see where he was coming from.

My children are long past their teen years, but when my son was a teen, one problem that we had was that he “joked” and I didn’t always recognize it as such.  Somewhere around his sixteenth year, we realized this was a problem and decided that he should smile when he was joking.   I don’t think I have a particularly short fuse, but it really did help when his comments set me off and he would say, “Look at my face, Mom.”  If I knew he was joking, I could either end up laughing or tell him why I didn’t think what he said was funny.  Either way, the smile helped calm  the situation.

The other thing I found that helped during the teen years was giving hugs.  I got advice about this when my son was very small.  I was helping my older sister at a food co-op.  The son of one of the ladies who was also helping stopped by.  He was over six feet tall and in high school, but what impressed me the most was that when he went to leave, his mom hugged him and he hugged her back.  When he left, I told the mom I didn’t think teens hugged like that.  What she said was that she knew everybody needed hugs and that he would be offered them elsewhere.   She figured she should make sure he got at least some of  what he needed at home, so she made it a point to hug him every day.  She said there were hard days, but she always tried to find some way to compliment him before she hugged him, even if her comment was as simple as telling him he smelled good or that she could tell he had brushed his teeth because they were so white.

I was always impressed with that woman’s advice, and I tried to give my kids hugs every day when they were teens.  She was right–some days were hard-but I think the point got across to them.  They knew that at home they were safe, even if they weren’t perfect.  They were, after all, born of imperfect parents.

Why am I passing that advice on now?  Well, I think it helps to have things written down.  My grandsons are six and four, but I know the teen years are, really, right around the corner.  My sister has a fourteen-year-old, a twelve-year-old and an eight-year-old.  She’ll be dealing with teenagerhood for the next dozen years or so.  Someday, I hope, somebody will read this and find that such advice helps them live more calmly with their teenagers.  It sure helped me with mine!


2 Responses to “Smiles,Hugs and Teenagers”

  1. 1 prettycza August 5, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    i like this. i’m single and only 23 but i hope i remember this when i’m raising my own kids. =)

    Sounds like you will be a good mom. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  2. 2 writeathome August 7, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Hi Becky,

    Thanks for what you shared here. I do have a 14 year old son, and I do hug him everyday, if not during the day, then at least at bedtime. It does help. I like what you said about smiling. Sometimes I don’t know when my son is joking either. I’m going to mention the smiling thing to him. It might help to diffuse some misunderstanding and possible tension.

    I hope smiling works as well for you as it did-and does-work for the son and me. 🙂

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