An Open Letter To My Son

Son, you are twelve years old, and I have a problem with you: you think you are equal to your mother and father, but you have not yet earned that right.

You are twelve years old, and still a child. Adulthood doesn’t start even as a legal technicality until you are 18 — and at that age you do not suddenly become the equal of every other adult in the world. You will continue to be looked down upon by most people who are older than you. It is a sad fact of the world, but you simply do not have the experience, the perspective or the wisdom to make decisions on the same level as adults.

I am 42 years old. I have earned 30 years of experience that you have not had. I have been twelve years old before, and I have been somebody’s son before. You have not, in turn, been 42, or a father. Or, for that matter, held a job, traveled alone, fallen in love, or been responsible for any other living thing. So when you have an opinion or an idea and we, your parents, don’t act on it…we didn’t ignore it. We chose not to, based on our experience and knowledge.

I remember being twelve. It is a difficult age. You are starting the journey toward being a young man, and you want to be treated like more than a kid, yet at the same time, you have not earned the honor of being treated as an adult. Your mother and I still have every right to tell you what to do, yet we choose to ask, instead. When you choose to become surly and abusive when we ask you to do some minor task, you dishonor us with your disrespect.

Respect, that’s an important thing. I ask very little of you, but I expect your respect. After the years of butt-fucking I have endured from people I despised, at a job that I hated, just to provide for my family, to buy the things we need, and to get you the things you like…I feel that I have earned the right to be respected by my own son.

I don’t want you to be me. Far from it, I want you to remain you…but listen to our advice when we give it. We know what the world has in store for you, and we want to help you through it. You have a gift, in two parents who desperately want to share out experiences and knowledge with you. We wish you didn’t try so hard to ignore it.

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