The piping treble voice, you will observe, has already begun to crack. The skin on his cheeks and chin is stiffening into defiant bristles and there is an angry pigment surrounding the blemishes on his skin. Perhaps you have started to wonder where you have gone wrong, and what you have done to deserve his new found attitude. You, who have shown him most affection, will seem to be the butt for his most barbed and unkindly remarks. That is because you are still the most important people in his life and the most convenient target for his burgeoning masculine aggressiveness.
Do not despair. Ride out the storm. Be firm but affectionate. At this moment when he seems to need you least, he needs you the most. Make a stand about the principles you regard as fundamental. Give him rope about the less important things. Do not worry too much about his wearing of apparel or the style of his hair. Comfort yourself with the knowledge that his present mood is transitory. If you do this, and stand firm as a rock in the midst of his tempestuous life, the small boy whom you thought you had lost will return to you a charming young man – well groomed in appearance and with delightful manners. He will have been worth waiting for. Meanwhile, we are both in for one hell of a time.
I cannot claim all the wisdom from this week’s blog, but I whole heartedly understand and support Tony Little’s hypothetical letter from his book. I had the pleasure of meeting Tony, Headmaster of arguably the most prestigious school in the world, in Cape Town a couple of years ago. Eton School educates members of the British Royal Family, children of global sporting stars and leading business entrepreneurs. It appears that most boys, regardless of their socio-economic means, are prone to lose their true identity for a few years. Be confident that they will rediscover it a few years later. If parents are aware of this, and understand that the ages of 14,15 and 16 are notorious rites of passage, it can make things more bearable in times of the greatest perceived pressure – exam block. Fight the good fight.
Matt Warr, Assistant Dean of Formation