The new puppy (and practicing what I preach)

Before Christmas, my younger son mentioned that he and his girlfriend were thinking of getting a puppy. He asked, “What do you think?”

So I told him!

Puppies are so much work; like having a baby!

They cost a lot of money…additional pet rent for your apartment, shots, food, toys, etc. You guys are living paycheck to paycheck as it is!

You will no longer have any freedom to take spur-of-the-moment trips!

I don’t think you should get a puppy right now!! I mean, I REALLLLY don’t think you should!!

Guess what? They got the puppy.

And they are so excited!

And the puppy is the cutest! (That’s her at the top of this post. They named her Cleopatra; Cleo for short.)

Am I disappointed that they didn’t take my words of wisdom to heart and do as I suggested? A little.

Am I eventually going to be  proven “right” about all the things I warned about? Probably.

But here’s where (even though it’s tough!) I need to practice what I preach and take my own advice that I give parents: I need to let him and his girlfriend figure all of this out for themselves, sometimes the ‘hard way’. That’s how we learn and grow—by experiencing consequences and learning from our mistakes, not just taking peoples’ word for things.

Since Cleo came along, I have spent a lot of time biting my tongue when my son calls me. Of course I ‘ooh and ahhh’ about the adorable things Cleo has been doing (Wow! Already fetching a ball! Yes, she is so cute when she sleeps curled up like that!) but when he tells me how the puppy cries when she is in her crate at night and the neighbors are giving them dirty looks…when he tells me that she peed on his new couch…when he tells me what a pain it is to have to deal with all the lunchtime traffic when he comes home at noon to let her out…do I chime in with “help”? Nope. I stay quiet.

Do I stay quiet because I have no advice to give or knowledge to share? Oh hell no! I have lots of advice and suggestions at the ready should he ever ask me! But until he asks, I stay quiet because I know that the very last thing people want or need is help or advice when they don’t ask for it–it makes them feel disrespected and makes them believe that you don’t think they’re capable of figuring things out on their own. And it makes them want to avoid being around you because to them it feels like all you ever do when they’re around you is try to “help” them.

Rest assured that on the day he once again says, “Mom, what do you think?” I will tell him. But until then, I’m biting my tongue.

You might want to try this with your teen: When they present you with an issue or problem they’re experiencing, instead of jumping right in with your pearls of wisdom, ask them, “Oh, what do you plan to do about that?” or, “What do you think you’ll do?” and then listen. After they tell you, you can offer your help by saying, “Would you like to know what I think?” But if the answer is no, then it’s time to join me in the tongue-biting club and wait.

If you have a good relationship with them and they know you’re there for them no matter what, there WILL come a day when they will ask you for help. And the wait will have been worth it because they will be much more ready and willing to hear what you have to say.