The Adventures Of Fatherhood – October 29, 2021

It’s school picture time, which is not exactly a favorite for the 13-year-old kid of the house.

Expecting the worst, I have no doubt we will be disappointed when these photos arrive in a few weeks of at least one of the boys. Considering Beckett doesn’t like to show his teeth when he smiles now (despite a year of Invisalign) and likes his hair down covering his green eyes, I am keeping my expectations low for next week’s picture day for Beckett.

Carson had his photo taken on Tuesday, and he seems to really like putting on a nice shirt for his picture each year. He even practiced his smile for me several times, asking in his non-verbal way if he was good with a thumb up or thumb down. Of course, he got a huge thumb up from me. Years from now, little will we remember he was wearing athletic shorts and no socks and holding two stuffed animals in his lap.

No matter how the pictures turn out with these two boys, the pictures will be keepsakes for years to come and get their places on the Lifetouch wall at home and around my office. The pictures from their early grades bring on the “awe” moments these days. I’m wondering what the middle school pictures of them will conjure in future years. Maybe some head shakes and bewilderment, but it’s all good. Snapshots in time are priceless.

There is a big difference between a closed door and a locked door.

We have no problems with our kids closing their bedroom doors, but we dislike a locked door so much we removed the dead bolts on their doors within a month of moving into our new house. There should be no option on that front in our opinion.

It’s interesting to read up on the closed-door dialogue as many parents frown on them entirely. There are a wide range of opinions on the subject. We are fine with Beckett, 13, closing his door at home. We do insist he keep his door open when friends are in his room.

Another topic with varying parenting approaches is knocking on a teen’s door before entering. We try to knock on Beckett’s door before we enter. It’s more like a knock/open than it is a knock and await permission. It’s like a couple seconds of courtesy before we are in the room. We do not knock and wait for permission to enter. At 13 years old, there is no need for him to have that degree of privacy. Some say that’s the wrong approach, while others agree.

This is the thing about parenting. We all get to raise our kids how we wish based on our own morals, knowledge of our kids and backgrounds. There are lots of different ways to parent and oftentimes it’s singular to the individual person being raised. We don’t parent Beckett and Carson the same way, but it’s largely due to the latter having special needs. Even in neuro typical families I am close with, they treat their similar-aged kids different based on their personalities, maturity, trustworthiness and attitudes.

I learned through this parenting journey a major pet peeve of mine is judgmental parents. Unfair judgements are made far too often. There should be a recognition most of us all have our struggles and we all are committed to doing the best we can for our children. It’s none of my business if a neighbor in one direction allows their teens to keep their doors closed and if the other in a different direction finds that practice appalling. We need more acceptance in my opinion. We need to come together and lift each other up, rather than criticize and judge when we don’t know the details of the different journeys being charted.

On the topic of closed doors, a blog on the site discusses this topic at length. A highlight was this passage, some of which I agree with and some of which I don’t. It’s about awareness and it’s interesting:

“Privacy is a strong need for teens. They need room to try out the various aspects of their personalities, select traits that help build an identity, and test ways to participate in the culture. One of the ways teens can experiment with privacy in a fairly safe manner is within the space of their own rooms. We suggest that you allow your teen the experience of being alone with himself while being able to maintain boundaries against intrusion by others, including you. The general suggested rules are that teens are allowed to close their doors while alone, or with friends or siblings. … Secondly, it is important that anyone who wants to enter the teen’s room knock first and wait to be invited in before entering. This is a very important one. Many parents knock, but they enter while in the process of knocking which is close to entering with no warning. None of us like that sort of intrusion and we generally react with anger. Give your teens the same courtesy you expect from them. As budding adults, teens need both emotional and physical privacy. …

Privacy is important, but it does imply responsibility. Teens don’t tell their parents everything, nor should they. At the same time, a general sense of trust along with limits that protect teens from danger must be facilitated. Your best bet is to spend a lot of time getting to know your teens, discussing their ideas as well as problems, and establishing a strong bond that is based on caring and understanding …”

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.