I’m Not Ready for Girlfriend Issues

This has been going on for a few months now: our oldest son’s relationship with his girlfriend. This is totally uncharted territory for my wife and me. A child with a girlfriend.

It’s a great first relationship for him. I think, but I don’t really know. After all, what I’ve often said to my son is if he really wants to know how to deal with a relationship with a girl, he should talk to his mother.

When we found out he was actually officially dating this girl all I could think about was being a one year younger than everyone in my middle school class, being known as cute little RJ, staying back a year going into high school to catch up emotionally and chronologically, to my first real relationship, to having my heart broken the first time, to never breaking up with a girl and always having them break up with me for being too nice (yes that’s a euphemism for not taking more…initiative), for my desire to not disappoint eventually leading to having an ex-wife.

Here my son was dating and all I could think was that I was terribly ill-equipped for dispensing any form of advice.

Yes, he’s only entering 8th grade. I think that’s one of the great mistakes that parents make, however: not taking youthful emotional hurdles seriously. My mother taught me one of her mother’s favorite phrases: “Life’s little

tragedies.” The phrase applied to children, and those moments where children are distraught over what we as wizened adults see as smaller issues.

But no issue is really ever that small, is it? You can still teach a child about the different between small problems and large problems without dismissing a child in the moment of their emotional trauma.

Our son is stepping into the threshold of a small tragedy. He’s already wrestling with whether or not he should continue dating this girl, but he doesn’t want to disappoint her. As if that doesn’t raise the specter of my own shortcomings.  But he’s dealing with it. He’s embracing that what he’s going through is confusing, and thankfully for him he has an entire community of friends and family from which to draw for support. I just hope I can keep my own insecurities out of the way enough to allow him to experience life’s next little tragedy, and recover from it healthily.

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