Parenting 101

REPOST from Sept. 15, 2012: (stands the test of time…)

brad, age 13

There’s this fine line between disciplinarian and friend, when it comes to being a parent. Kids need rules, yet, they also need someone they trust. Someone to talk to. Someone like me.

I’ve never grounded my kids. Rather, I find quiet moments to talk about a situation, without making a big deal. Which in turn develops a bond between us. A solidarity.

One day, when Brad was at a friend’s house, I took the opportunity to clean his way too messy room. As the pile of clothing, and other junk, began to diminish from the top of his dresser, having settled back into the drawers, I spotted the Kindle Fire. I had forgotten about the electronic reader, as I had given it to Brad to use for school; so, for me, it was out-of-sight-out-of-mind. During the summer, he said he wanted to spent some time getting acquainted with the gadget, to just play with it, learn how to use it.

Sounded good to me.

I picked the Kindle up, which was tucked into its black leather jacket that I had bought, to protect it. I stretched the elastic band off the cover, flipped it open, turned it on, and browsed through items Brad had downloaded. Just checking in, one might say. Games, Facebook, and a few magazines.

I should have guessed, but I hadn’t. Nor was I surprised. Or even mad, that one of the magazines included lots of photos of girls; young women, actually, in teeny-tiny swimsuits. HOT women, emphasizing breasts and rear-ends.

I laughed. To myself.

Later, when Brad was lounging on his bed, I walked in, asking how his day was. It was fun, he told me. And he thanked me for cleaning his room.

“Oh, and by the way, I was looking at the Kindle,” I began.
Brad gave me a sideways glance, narrowed his eyes, and smirked a bit.
“I saw the magazine you downloaded. The girls,” I continued.
He just looked at me. Waited for me to do some more talking.
“I see you have good taste,” I joked.
He smiled, and looked down.
“And, well, anyway, I have no problem with you looking at those pictures, but a word of advice.”
He waited, patiently.
“You need to delete them. The Kindle is for class books, for reading, and I don’t think your teachers would like those photos on campus.” I finished.
“OK,” Brad answered.

The night before his first day of school, I asked him if he had everything he needed. If he was all packed up.
“Yep,” he responded. “And, yes, the magazine has been deleted.”

I am sure he will not be surprised when another respect for women conversation drops into ours lives somewhere down the road.

I am building a lifetime with him. A trusting relationship, so that he knows that no matter what, he can always count on me.

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