I ran away a few hundred miles from home (took a bus to be specific) when I was 16, slept on the streets for 5 months, then slowly built my life to
the comfortable and pretty chilled existence I enjoy now twenty something years later, as a father of a 16 year old son myself.
When he was aged two I divorced his mother as we realised our sharing a relationship path was simply not working. We didn't hate each other or
anything but met young in early 90's rave culture and realised we were no longer compatible as husband and wife so decided on a bitterness free split
to instead concentrate on our role as committed parents. I was the one who divorced her because I lost the 'best of three' games at poker and only one
of us could be the petitioner under English law, so being mutual, neither of us wanted that title lol. Divorce only cost £50 for the forms from the
court, just filled them out ourselves with no need for lawyers, sold the house, paid our joint credit off and split the profit, pretty simple when you
take the bitterness away.
Anyway, my son has carried the label of being from a broken home/single parents/blah for most of his life, and there is an apparent social norm
assumption that this clearly carries extra disadvantages compared to children in homes where mother and father live together.
In my experience nothing could be further from the truth.
My lad has been with me for 3 or 4 nights every week, and equally with his mother since the age of two. We've shared notes on everything parental and
similarly shared all relevant 'son' costs as and when they came up. I've never paid her any 'maintenance' because we both shared the same costs of a
two bedroom house with all the things our son needed. Two equal locations for him but a single family 'norm' if you like.
All those years later I've got a really kind, respectful, fun-loving, mature, active and sporty 186cm tall young man who is my most enjoyable
companion for pretty much anything in life. We went out illegally into bar and clubland together for the first time on the weekend as he's earning a
decent coin working full-time as a qualified lifeguard through the summer until he starts college. We strolled past bouncers/doorstaff as if he was
18, and he bought me a pint for the first time. Brilliant night, got home 3am, had a lay in bed, then went to a cafe for a full English breakfast to
fix our hangovers.
Now, here's the thing, my son tells me that he doesn't know anyone in his own peer group who has a relationship with their dad like we have. In fact,
a lot of my son's friends will confide things to me that are secrets to their own parents - sometimes I know their dads and don't actually like them,
but still offer the same honest advice to their lads because the sins of the father are separate things.
I have included my son in all aspects of my life even when 'straight/respectable' people would 'tut-tut' me if they knew what we did, illegal free
outdoor parties or festivals, cliff-jumping into the sea, whatever is fun. My son tells me that most of his friends feel like they were just sent off
to play at the adventure park or whatever while growing up so their parents could have an uninterupted coffee/pint, or stroll around the concession
stalls at X or Y theme park - I instead would be diving down the 'death slides' having a laugh with my son.
I remember when he was little, I said to someone around a campfire, with my lad asleep on my lap, that I was looking forward to when he was older to
enjoy going out with him. The response from pretty much everyone was 'he's not a teenager yet' or 'he won't wanna be seen with you when he's that age'
etc, and I was really annoyed that people assume young people/parental relationships are as predefined as that, just because they are hormonal
teenagers. I was convinced that teenagers are not some distinct species, they're just people the same as us and maybe if we remember how we thought
about life at that age, and actually give a toss about whatever drama is going on in their lives then a strong working relationship is more than
I was proved to be correct in my own parental role.
I also believe most parents could have the same strength of relationship with their teenagers if they made the effort.
Money is not the issue either, and it annoys me when people pull that card. I left it until age 30 to go to college and later university, and 3 or 4
nights per week for a couple of years my lad was on the top bunk bed in a scabby one room bedsit which was all I could afford while working 25 hours
We still built sandcastles at the beach or kicked our £1 football around in the park every day I picked him up from school.
So I ask, why is there an apparent societal acceptance that teenagers are some unique species which adults cannot find common ground with? I don't buy
All thoughts welcome here, but I'm more focussing on the flawed assumption that 'teenager' automatically equals unreasonable, and the growing number
of TV ad's I've seen where the assumed norm is the moody teenager unable to communicate with their parents. I suggest that if all parents made more
effort, talking calmly and listening to their young adults with empathy instead of just barking at them over some minor BS crime, then we would have a
much more chilled next generation.
Oh, and if the usual silly types on ATS start crying 'ego post' or 'superiority' or whatever personality related attack please save your effort as I
shall just ignore it. This topic is a general conversation about the media/societal image that parents should just accept relationships with teenage
kids are automatically likely to be crap. I disagree, and I only have the experiences of my own son and all his mates to share about such things so of
course my examples are related to my personal reality.
Please do share your own 'reality' here if this topic interests you.
edit on 28-7-2014 by grainofsand because: Title too long