Saturday, February 16, 2013

Attack of The Teenage years...One Year Too Soon


They are Here! There are ravenous, and they will make you want to scream in terror! They are....the teenage years!

Seriously...When I was a newbie parent and talking to veteran parents about raising children, they ALL had one warning to give...."Just wait till they're teenagers!"  Each of them echoed the same warning...all of them, to a one...a fact which is creepy enough by itself. However, I shrugged off their warnings as so much cynical ramblings and after all, my son was only five and all that teenage stuff seemed so far away that I didn't have to worry about it. So, like the ill-fated kids of Camp Crystal Lake I blithely set off to a date with the monster. But like a beast stalking us from the shadows...it lay in wait for seven years until it was time to strike.

For those of you doing the math...yes, that means my son is now Twelve and not exactly a teenager. I feel like I am cheating myself out of being able to write this post next year but...just like movie monsters leap out at you when you expect them the least, neither did my sons teenage traits wait till his chronological aged ticked over from twelve to thirteen. It's here and it's demanding to be dealt with....(cue B-movie scream)
Most of us can remember what we were like as teenagers and hopefully the passage of time has given us the ability to be honest about how difficult we were to deal with. At least I can. Even though my parents didn't understand me...to be quite frank, I didn't understand myself . Consequentially, I was kind of a jerkwad. I just wanted the freedom that came with adulthood and to not be acountable to my parents for anything. While I was never a kid that smoked, drank, or dressed in ways my parents found wierd, I never the less found was to drive them nuts.

And now it's begining to happen to my son and I can see the change happening to him day by day. The first sign that something was amiss was when he stated caring about what kind of clothes he wore and wanting to be more stylish. Then came questions about girls...now the most Daniel had ever coming to an interest in romance was to declare his love to a cookiee right before eating it. Also, the kids in his class are pairing off and beginning to have relationship drama's of their own. It was beginning to become clear that big changes were afoot. The issues that Daniel was having to confront were much more complex....and as he would talk to me about his friends latest relationship blow-up I could see that Daniel wasn't just asking about something happening to someone else that didn't really resonate with him personally....he was involved. Even though we were talking about his friends at school, in a way, we were really talking about Daniel.

and just as the issues that Daniel was facing at school were become more complex, so were the issues that we have begun to face at home:





This isn't how I was at twelve...hell, all I wanted in the whole world was a shopping spree at Toys-R-Us and a few packs of garbage pail kids from the local convenience store....but then again, I was a late bloomer. I need to remember that all of us develop differently. Daniel has had "the talk" at home and the puberty talk at school...but  little did I know just how much those topics were on his mind. We have always told him that with sexuality comes responsibility, just like in any other part of life...but dealing with issues like these just further drives home that Daniel is growing up and the issues we are dealing with are teen ones....oh joy...

Another sign of teenage angst is moodiness and we've got that in spades. I always thought it was a stereotype but..no...it's true. The bright and cheerful boy that always used to follow me around the house talking my ear off  is being replaced by a much more sullen version that rolls his eyes a lot. It may sound weird to some, but Daniel has always been the kind of kid to just roll with whatever was happening. He was never easily annoyed or quick to anger. Even when he did get angry of upset about things it passed very quickly....not so anymore. Now there are excuses and self defense for anything and protestations that holding him accountable for undone homework and chores is somehow "not fair". The even keeled kid with the easy smile now has his emotions right on the surface.

but by far, the hardest part of seeing Daniel into his teenage years is the feeling of pulling away. My son who used to tell me everything regardless of how small is now developing his own identity and a complex emotional world and sometimes he just wants his dad to butt out of it. With all the questions and issues that revolve around love, sex, and relationships, I know that he is having thoughts and opinions about it that he doesn't want to tell me about and this is a trend that I know is only going to get deeper as he becomes more of his own person. He will want his friends more and his Dad a whole lot less. It sucks..and I kinda feel like I'm temporarily losing a friend.

As a parent, seeing your kids become more emotionally independent is scary. Your used to holding their hands when they cross roads, not standing on the corner and watching them cross alone. It's kind of a powerless feeling. They are beginning to have a social life now that you are not included in and that makes it harder to protect them from harm the way you used to. You can't hold their hand anymore and you have to learn to let go a little bit and let them learn to be their own person....while at the same time you watch them like a hawk (lol).

I have to say that I never expected to run into these issues at twelve. It feels too soon, but the transformation from boy to teen has already begun. As much as I want all this to wait a couple of years I know that this is what's happening and we need to deal with it. Daniel is becoming a teenager and we have begun that emotional roller-coaster ride that hopefully ends with a well rounded human being at the end. Along the way I know will be a lot of arguments and a few slammed doors, more mega-restrictions and hair-graying behaviors, first dates and broken hearts...maybe some feelings of feeling different for being adopted and/or having two dads. I don't know what's coming, I just know that it is and mentally I am beginning to brace myself.

I hope that one day I wont be warning some other hopeful parent about the horrors of raising teens. With every passing year I grow to like who my son is more and more and I continue to be proud of who he is becoming. Even if we have rough moments ahead I want to believe that we are going to walk out of this with some stories to tease him about to his children...and just as close as we have always been. He may be becoming as teen, and I may need to let him have that distance he needs to grow, but he will still be my boy and that will never change.

But if we can survive this first harrowing encounter with teendom, I can't imagine the basket case I'm going to be when Selena becomes a teen...(cue B-movie scream).

Until next time dear readers....


18 comments:

  1. I remember my teenage years. First of all surging hormones and all, moody doesn't begin to describe it. But I kept it in check. However it's when my relationship with my father started to go down the path it did. We're both stubborn bastards.

    But this too shall pass.

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  2. Hey Bryan! Ow, its been a while since last time i made comment here on the blog...

    Today when i was watching the last video u guys posted i noticed how much Daniel has grown. This last days i was watching some of yours old videos that i hadn't seen yet, and i could see how much Daniel has changed in what seems so little time. I can imagine how it must feel for u and Jay.

    But there is another thing i noticed: the great parents that u guys are. And I'm not just saying it to please u guys. I'm saying because i have noted how attentive u guys are, and how much effort u do to make your kids grow and develop to be the best they can. This should obviously be what every parent should do, but we know that things are not like that. Many parents do like Homer Simpson have said once about how to raise a child: leave them to be baby sited by the television, or by the computer, or cellphone, or even putting all responsibility in the school, any thing that can put their own responsibilities away.

    I know that u guys are good parents because u are good people, and u care for Daniel and Selena and want them to be the best that they can be. But i wonder: the fact that guys are gay parents makes u guys do more effort to prove that yes, a physically and emotionally healthy person CAN be raised by gay couple?

    Also, do u think that Daniel, being straight, will have more difficulty in this phase for having gay parents?

    I ask that because as a gay man, i remember growing up feeling that my parents couldn't understand how i was feeling, because what i was feeling was somehow different from what they felt. I know that underneath the feelings are the same, they are just directed differently. But do u think that its possible that this one of the the reasons why Daniel isn't sharing his feelings with u guys any more? That some how, even unconsciously, he thinks that u guys wouldn't understand him?

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  3. Your doing fine with Daniel, he just pushing the envelope.
    We've all done it, but he's not a bad kid just be his Dad and firm with him.

    When I was his age I had already had sex, drank, smoked and locked up in juvinal hall.
    My old man didn't really care, had nothing to do with me being Gay, he just didn't care.
    He was never home, to busy chasing bar whores and drinking.

    His only fatherly advise he gave me, was after he punched me in the mouth.
    I started to throw a punch at him, as I lay on the ground,
    he said "If your old enough to throw a punch, your big enough to take one.

    He left mom to wrestle with me and then he dies when I was 17 years old.

    You two are GREAT fathers, Daniel will grow up with respect for himself and others.

    Daniel, it seems unfair now, trust me you could have it MUCH worst.
    Listen and respect your parents, they are worthy of it.

    Gary Jordan

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  4. Enjoyed reading this post.

    Bryan, your kids are a head of a lot of the other kids out there because they know in the deepest part of their heart that they are loved by their parents. This love will sustain them through life's trials and tribulations.

    A lot of kids today are unloved by the people closest to them. It is almost impossible to heal that.

    Thanks so much for this website. It gives a lot of us hope.

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  5. I never fought physically with my dad but as much as I agree with the lesson of "if your old enough to throw it..." there are ways to be physically confrontational, if you have the kid that is, that won't put anyone in the hospital, for anything significant. I watched my dad do it with my brother. They always ended up laughing at the end, even if they broke the chair, coffee table and wall.

    We all get stupid in the teen years and we are a pain to everyone around us and surviving to adulthood is something we should recognize more significantly. In many native traditions that transition from child to teen is celebrated and It may help to do so. It has been spoken of positively by every article I've found by someone who had those rites, even if the rite was more than what most americans consider "normal".1

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  6. I remember when my older brother was going through the teen years. He did the same things Daniel is doing now and is now a well rounded mature man, married with two kids. The worst he ever did was "borrow" our cousins car and take it for a joy ride, then lied about it when he wrecked part of it.

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  7. I think if you can allow yourself to be relegated to backseat driving, just the fact that Daddy Bryan is there, always at the ready, and knowing that you'll always have his back, will be the knowledge that Daniel needs to get through this. And then when you ARE called upon for counsel, guidance or step-into-it assistance, you'll really feel it. Like what everybody else said, we've all been there. These are faster times, sure, but you two Dads have created a loving environment and implanted good values and with a base like that, he won't go too far astray. Thanks as always.

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  8. Hey Guys, I came across your blog and I wanted to comment and say that I love it. I have to tell you that I am gay man raising two children. Mostly alone, but now with my partner who has shown such amazing patience and wisdom that I am thankful every day.
    My kids are finishing their teenage years (17 and 20) and I am here to tell you will survive. There has been plenty of times that you will swear they are trying to kill you but it’s their way of stretching their wings. (BTW… You will have to clip them from time to time )
    Boys are tough they do pull away and be quiet. They talk to their friends and you become annoying. Going to the mall or movies becomes paramount decisions for the weekends. They will think that showers consist of cans of AXE body sprays and start to worry about their cloths, which they will inform you they have NOTHING to wear. You will be introduced to the flavor of the month club when a different girl shows up at the house. (Don’t get attached they don’t last long).
    Girls on the other hand are a true challenge. Moody is there no state of being and you might get a week or two of your little princess then Morgana comes back. Its all good it will pass. But wait till the boys come to the door… vultures…
    It’s get better, never easier but better. Be true to your beliefs and trust yourselves that you know your children and their personalities. Remember one thing, ”opinions are like a..holes, everyone has one!!!”
    Good Luck
    Miguel

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  9. Hey Brian,
    Your and Jay's dedication as fathers touches me in a positive way. I've read the blog posts every now and then for a few years and each time I think about how great what you two are doing is. I'm a gay young man in college in Utah. I was raised mormon and was disowned by my father when I came out at nineteen. When I came out I felt I was giving up the possibility of ever having a family of my own in the future.You two help show me that love is love, and a family is a family. You guys are awesome!!! Sincerely,
    -Matt (a small town Utah boy)

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  10. A couple of weeks ago Jay hinted about punishing Daniel for having lied about doing his homework. I didn't think much about it, but then when I saw the video I realized that the problem was bigger. The lying that Jay talked about and the sullenness that you mentioned, Bryan, seem to be symptoms of the larger issue of Daniel pulling away and creating walls or barriers between you as parents and him as your child that never existed before. My parents taught me that the anger they might feel at what I did would never change their underlying love for me, and I saw Jay trying to give that message to Daniel in the video. And the fact that you're always there to share in his accomplishments, from his music lessons, his acting debut, and now his fencing tournament, shows him I hope that you're proud of who he is deep down. Thanks for sharing your fears about his growing up, but I couldn't imagine a child more loved and cared for by his two parents than Daniel! It'll be okay...

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  11. OH THE HORROR!!! Lol. I hope it doesn't get too bad for you! I know the distancing can be hard. I remember doing that with my parents just a few years ago when I was a teenager and it's still affecting our relationship... I wish you guys the best, of course.

    By the way, Bryan, you are a brilliant writer, and I really enjoy reading your blog. :)

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  12. Hey Bryan, as much as I like seeing how you deal with your family I can't help but wonder if putting this up on Youtube for the world to see will really be the best for your son in the long run. While watching it I feel like I'm eavesdropping on a conversation that is not meant for my ears but is meant to be just between a father and his son.

    Just my thoughts. Did you talk to him again lately if he's still comfortable sharing his life on Youtube? Because he doesn't really look like it in this video.

    Anyway, all the best to your family. Your kids will be alright!

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  13. @Tobias...I have asked Daniel repeatedly if he was o.k. with what he put on YouTube and let him know repeatedly that it was o.k. if he changed his mind. I asked nice...i asked serious...I asked so many different ways it started to sound like Dr. Seuss Green Eggs and Ham. I think he's really really o.k.....but I get where you are coming from.

    @Samuel Henrique Germano....I think at some points Daniel will have issues with having two dads....BUT...I also think that's normal. At some point all teenagers are supposed to be embarrased that they have parents AT ALL...so we have just given Daniel a handy excuse really, one I expect he may try out from time to time. But that doesn't mean that is how he really feels deep down and I know that.

    @Miguel...thank you so much for your comment. As much as I expect all these things to happen, it's different when they actually do and it was encouraging to hear from another parent who has already been through it and came out with their sanity more or less intact. Just one thing..... If I see so much as one can of Axe body spray their will be some serious discussion about their taste in fragrance and possibly a nostril exam.

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  14. Hang in there Bryan!Daniel is a very well adjusted young man,you and Jay are doing an excellent job with him.I said it on your your video,I'll say it again:Puberty is a Phoenix,that will burn away your cute,sweet little boy.For a little while he may become someone that you,and he himself,don't think you even know anymore,and sometimes not even like so much.However,you will always unconditionally love him,(Remember,it's when children are the least lovable,that they need love the most.).With that unconditional love,out of the ashes will rise a wonderful young man.
    I also wanted to share with you,(Middle School kids every where will be calling me a rat fink.),but here goes.I don't know how much you guys know about anime,(A form of animation,that also branches off into books call manga,dousinsuji,as well as still images.)Most of these are wonderful.However there is a dark side to anime, pornography.I'll give you run down on some of the terms and what they mean:YAOI,(The sexual interaction between two adult male characters.This one ,for what ever reason, is very popular with preteen and teen girls). YURI,(The sexual interaction between two adult female characters.)SHOTA,(The sexual interaction between two male characters,where either one character is made to look very child like,from toddler to young teen,and the other character is either an adult,or another child.There is also STRAIGHT SHOTA,where the boy child character sexually interacts with an adult female one.)LOLI,(Loli is very much like shota,only the child character is female.)HENTAI,(Where just about anything goes,from gay,straight,bestiality,and any another sexual fetish you can think of.Where the lead characters are mostly female.)All of these can range from,highly suggestive, to down right hard core.They can all also include rape and incest.They are very popular among preteens and teens,and very easy to access over the Internet.Most of them steam from Japan,where they are all legal,though rated for adult only.Just a heads up.I found out about these when I over heard my oldest daughter and my niece say the word Yaoi,which came along with a lot of giggling.
    Puberty is tough for both parent and child.It's frightening,and amazing to watch your little child blossom into a whole new person.Here's a Mommy hug,and yes, everyone needs a Mommy hug once in a while,from Maryland.Good luck and God bless.*u*

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  15. I matured early just like Daniel. I was sexually (physically) mature at eleven and was singing bass in the choir (the only one) at twelve. It was really horrible to see those changes in myself and, in spite of my dad's assurances, NOT seeing them in my classmates, not even the girls.

    I remember the swimming party where the hosts had set up a boy's dressing teepee and a girls' dressing teepee and making an excuse to be late so I didn't have to undress in front of the other boys so I wouldn't be teased about the physical changes that had already taken place, not the least of which was sprouting chest hair at eleven.

    I sypmathize completely with Daniel. He's out ahead of the pack. So some of his moodiness or sullenness may be due to discomfort with that.

    You're entering interesting times. You've brought Daniel up with a strong set of values and you continue to set a good example for him. Keep up the good work and keep those lines of communication open and he'll find a way to use them.

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  16. My #1 mantra as I entered the teen years with my two oldest girls (14 and 13) was "Connection before correction". It's not easy - the easiest thing is to start yelling, or even just nagging and reminding, etc. But what I *try* to do when we have an issue is look at our connection. Have we been super-busy with activities (mine AND theirs), homework, etc? Are we spending any time intentionally hanging out together? Doesn't have to be a deep talk, just can be a lunch out for sushi, a trip to the comic book store, talking Vlogbrothers together, laughing about a stupid Tumblr meme, etc. Because that pulling away . . . it's what is supposed to happen. They are growing up and into their own person. BUT we have to make sure there's a base of connection in order for the pulling away to have context. And so that when correction inevitably comes, it's not the only interaction we have.

    By the way, this is an amazing blog/youtube channel. Parenting is parenting, single, same-sex parents, hetero parents, bio parents, adoptive parents. Are there singular challenges for any given family -- OF COURSE! But all in all we have more in common than not. Kudos to you guys!

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  17. Oh. One more thing that was uber-helpful to me, for when Selena hits these years. The Brain Fog theory. My friend Alison has been through it several time with her kids - though it's written for a girl, exchange estrogen for testosterone in the article, and most of it is still true.
    http://www.facebook.com/notes/allison-ratliff/13-and-the-brain-fog/10151567653153206

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