When I was growing up I never once doubted my mother's love for me. She taught my siblings and I to love God, respect ourselves and others and honor our family name.
I remember questioning her once about why she had to be so strict. She promptly replied, "Because your father and I make the rules and we don't need 12 year-old friends." Guess who didn't have anymore questions on that topic?
I didn't like the reply at the time but I'm so grateful she didn't relax those rules. She and my dad prevented a lot of unnecessary mistakes. Don't get me wrong, I made plenty. But I truly appreciate the loving but firm hands that guided me through those formative years. I only pray that my sons will feel the same way about my husband and me. As for JP, the "no's" are few and far between these days (see previous blog). Now, if I could only get my 13-year-old “bonus son” to abide by the rules.
I've read that this is the age that teens test their boundaries. So I braced myself for the questions and told myself that everything would be fine as long as he understood: The rules do not change! I must admit I battle with the urge to be a little lenient because I don’t want to be the mean ole stepmother. But given my upbringing, I strongly believe children need consistent, loving but firm guidance.
Recently, during a family conference, I heard my mother’s words, but my lips were moving and the voice was my own. The phrase just came out after one too many questions: “Your father and I make the rules and we don’t need any 13-year-old friends.”
The look on his face told the story. I wonder if that’s what I looked like when my mom made the same exclamation all those years ago. Just as she did, I explained that we loved him but that we would not waiver in our attempt to mold him into a respectful, productive and decent young man. When the conference was over, my husband told me that I was right on point. I couldn’t take the credit. I told him that was courtesy of my mom.
Funny how things work out. My son hasn’t questioned the Melvin House rules since that conversation and I believe our relationship is getting stronger. By the way, now that I’m an adult, my mother and I are best friends.
Miriam is the mom of a toddler and a teenager. She's a producer for WRAL-TV.