The Adventures Of Fatherhood – August 6, 2021

When it comes to teenage kids, the expression goes, “you don’t have to always like them, but you always love them.”

The phrase hits home as the journey of raising a young teen plays out around our house.

As a matter of disclosure, I both love and like my 13-year-old son Beckett. He’s wonderful and has many positive traits. He’s a lot different than I was when I was 13, but that doesn’t mean much. It’s a different time. When I compare myself to him, he’s more well-rounded, smart, athletic, sensitive, empathetic and sophisticated than I was at his age. Additionally, he also knows far more about rap music, videogaming, skateboarding, Tik Tok, Snapchat and Pokemon.

While I’ve got mostly positive things to say about my boy, there are moments when I find myself frustrated, conflicted and baffled. It’s normal. He’s just a young teen experiencing life and flexing his independence, strong will, mood extremes and odd opinions.

One of the biggest sticky points right now with our kid is how “over protective” we are as parents. He often compares us to some of his friends’ parents who do not monitor his whereabouts by his phone, question who he hangs with and want to meet the people he calls his friends. While he tends to envy the fact some friends can do whatever they want at all times, we are proud to say we are guilty as charged of “caring too much,” as he once said.

These sorts of conversations are healthy for us to have with him. He can question us all he wants and wonder why we don’t trust him as his friends’ parents do. We always tell him you are our kid. We will not change our caring ways because of differing parenting styles. I told him recently, “I am sorry, but you are going to have to just learn to accept you are loved a lot.”

On a lighter note, I was fixated last weekend on determining the cause of a terrible smell in his bedroom. At first, I thought it was just body odor after him being outside for hours. When I smelled him, I was able to rule him out as the source. I then figured it was a sweaty shirt somewhere hidden, like under his bed. Though I found some dirty socks and empty water bottles, there was nothing among my finds causing the odor. When I pressed him, he feigned being hard of smelling, saying eventually “I don’t know” and “I’m tired,” two common expressions these days.

I never did find the source, but the odor eventually went away after I ran fans for an entire day. At some point, we will figure it out, but the lack of cooperation and interest from my boy was aggravating. He was clearly annoyed I was in his room in the first place. As I searched the room, I could sense his anxiety. I’m guessing he was missing phone calls he wanted to take. I was clearly disturbing his vibe.

I have learned lately these are just moments with my son. Sometimes he just doesn’t want to talk or be around me. Other times he does, and I really like those moments. An example would be when I picked him up from flag football camp at Northside Park on Monday night. We talked the entire way home about a variety of subjects. We listened to music and discussed sports, girls and the upcoming weekend. He even asked me how I spent my summers when I was his age, my first job and whether I despised summer reading assignments as much as he does currently. It was a great chat.

An hour after getting home, I tried to revisit something I forgot to tell him about my first job. He was a blank slate. His interest was gone. There was no reigniting the conversation. I was back to being bewildered again after the third “I’m tired” comment within a minute. It was fine, as I didn’t really want to be around him anymore either.

A column, “You Will Always You’re your Children, But You May Not Always Like Them,” I found on Scary about tweens and teens hits the mark in my opinion.

“I remember the first time I fell in love with each of my children. I also remember the first time I fell out of like with each of them.

My staunch, fierce, mama bear love for my children has never wavered since their births. And in the early years of motherhood, I assumed that that love would carry us through everything, that the overwhelming adoration I had for my babies meant that nothing they could do would ever change my feelings for them.

“But as it turns out, “love” and “like” are two different feelings. While love is immutable and constant, like is a bit more of a fickle beast. Just because the former is always there, that doesn’t mean that the latter automatically follows. … Just to be clear, I do like my children in general. I like them as human beings. They’re good people, my people. But they have definitely gone through phases where I simply didn’t enjoy being around them very much. …

It might sound terrible to say that I don’t always like my children, but it’s true. I do always love them — with every fiber of my being. But love and like are not the same thing, and one does not always lead to the other. You will always love your children, but you may not always like them, and that’s okay.”



About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.