The door is always open…

I have always had a policy with my kids that they could tell me anything and without fear of repercussions. A safe place to share thoughts, ideas, things they had done, had not done, or had done horribly wrong. I have never had my kids tell me anything that truly ever upset me, and the conversations that have sprung from them sharing with me have been invaluable to me as a parent. They teach me volumes on so many levels, I have enjoyed tremendously watching them gain critical thinking skills, and in watching them as they are learning to think through whatever the issue, question, or concern is.

I grew up in a house in which I could share nothing with my parents, and I wanted it to be different for my children – they do not share with their dad the things they share with me – so I hope I have achieved my goal.

However, a couple of weekends ago my son shared with me something that disturbed me greatly. It took all my skills to bite my tongue and not “be the parent” and come down on him for what he shared with me. He shared with me that he was using chewing tobacco at school, evidently, his roommate has this lovely habit, and my son was participating in this vile habit – and has been for some time. My instinct was to immediately tell him how vile I thought it was, how foolish I felt he was in making this choice, and then to share with him all the horrors of mouth/throat cancer! Yes, my reaction was the antithesis of what the purpose of the “open door policy” was all about.

There was some conversation and somehow I managed to strangle the “Crazy Woman” that was simmering beneath the surface and simply shared with him that I was disappointed in his choice, and I asked him if Bria knew what he was doing. That stopped him in his tracks – he had not told her. This spurred further conversation on why he had not told her and what that meant. It was truly an eye opening experience for me – I have no clue why I asked about Bria, but I am thankful that I did not quell the question. Our conversation ended with me telling him how much I loved him.

Therefore, scroll forward to this weekend – Sam was home again and on Friday night after he had come home from taking the Darling Bria out to a movie. I have a rule that the kids have to wake me up when they get home – and so Sam woke me and the conversation that unfolded was truly amazing. I was paid tenfold for biting my tongue and just listening to the earlier conversation. We lay in bed together and what he shared with me brought great joy to this mother’s heart! Evidently, Darling Bria has strong feelings about tobacco use! Can I tell you how much I love this girl? Well, after this weekend, I love her even more! I am so happy that I did not open my mouth with my “parental advice” because the voice of young love is was just what Sam needed to hear! As he shared with me he was not using “chew” any longer because Bria would not kiss him if he did! A lovely conversation ensued and Sam shared with me that he is trying to help his roommate quit “chew.”

Some days it really pays to keep your mouth shut when the door is open…

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11 thoughts on “The door is always open…

  1. That must have been really hard for you not to let the Crazy Woman out. I will remember that when my son has a similar problem (and I’m sure he will, even though he’s 10 right now). He too, feels like he can tell me anything right now and I hope that continues. Thank you for posting such a wonderful post and I’m glad things have worked out for the better.

    A Plurk Bud.

  2. Kudos to you for showing restraint and not letting your reaction take over your open door policy. I know from experience it can be hard to do. Sometime I succeed, sometimes not so well….

    Bless that little girlfriends heart for having that impact on him, no matter how it ends up, she could have save him from years of an ugly addiction.

    Love your writing style and your stories, Kat, alway enjoy visiting your blog 🙂

  3. Kudos to you. Sometimes that open door gets very heavy, this was certainly one of those times. Well done, indeed 🙂

    and… does Bria have a (much) younger sister? The teen will be in need of a good partner soon 😉

  4. Hiya Kat,

    I have also had the same rule with my kids tell me everything and there will be no parental furor just listening and talk. It has been the greatest tool I could have ever used, to just listen. I also came from a home where talking and expressing yourself just did not exist. Listening opens so many doors.

    Tony (tonnio)a plurk pal

  5. *applauds … long and loud*

    I, too, share the same sentiments as you, Kat, about raising kids. There has always, always, always been an open door policy when it comes to discussion in the Rupe household. It doesn’t mean there won’t be words … but there will be discussion, no repercussions.

    When I found my son was smoking like a chimney – literally! – at 17, I blew an internal gasket. But we learned’em as well as we could and he wasn’t living in my house; he was in his mother’s. Nothing I could do on that front.

    Enter the Marine Corps. You think I could say anything that was going to sway this young, viral, impervious young man’s mind? Hell no. Wife of Rupe and I have “thrown enough shit on the wall” and we know some of it will stick. And some of it has. The boy (yes, I still refer to him as “the boy” lovingly and he knows it and doesn’t have a problem with it) has turned out to be a terrific, upstanding young man with his own convictions and impulses. Overall, he’s a great kid. Smoking is his only (known) vice.

    Keep talkin’ to’em, Kat. It’s the best thing you can do. Shut the door on communication and you not only shut them out, but you shut your emotions in.

    And with that, all they do is swirl around you and form knots of worry in your mind.

    You doned goodly …..

    ………………… Ruprecht

  6. I, too, can identify.

    When my oldest son was around 13, I accompanied him and a dozen other boys on a church-sponsored fishing trip. On the way to the river, he told me, “This is not fair. All the other boys get to chew while on this trip, but I can’t because you’re with me.”

    So, I pulled into the nearest convenience store, took him by the arm and said, “C’mon, let’s get us both a good chew. What kind do you like?”

    “Uh, I think they’re called Bandit,” he said. “I’ve never really bought any. Are you really going to do this?”

    “Sure thing,” I said. “I never got around to chewing tobacco when I was a teenager, so I’m going to join you.”

    Well, we bought the Bandits and spent an evening chewing, spitting and fishing. Around midnight, he and I both were bend over a log puking our socks up. Apparently, neither of us had the constitution for chewing.

    He is now 40 and a very successful banker. And, next week when our family gets together for Christmas, we’ll probably tell stories about the good ol’ days.

    Such stories are never told without Matt telling everyone about the night when he and his dad chewed, fished and puked together.

    I was like Kat — I certainly could have chewed his butt for even thinking about such a nasty and unhealthy habit. But “the crazy man” in me was constrained.

    And good came from it, along with some good memories.

  7. “Some days it really pays to keep your mouth shut when the door is open…” That is genius Kat. You are a fantastic parent, I can only hope that I am doing half the job that you are.

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