The Bridge Of Adolescence

In August 2008 I posted a series of discussions on He’ll Be Ok: Growing Gorgeous Boys Into Good Men by Celia Lashlie.

In part 2 of my discussion, I noted the stage that Lashlie described as “The Bridge Of Adolescence”. “The Bridge of Adolescence” starts from around 11 and continues to 18. As parents we provide that barriers on the bridge (guidance) that prevent our child from falling of the edge. Drugs, cars, alcohol, sex are all areas that may see an adolescent fall from the bridge.

(On a side note, there is a great illustration of the bridge in the book and I wrote to Harper Collins NZ a few weeks ago to ask if I could use it in this post. They said no and when I asked why their response was “we do not allow internal images to be reproduced on any websites.” )

Back in 2008 I wrote this:

You could kind of see this coming, but the emphasis in this chapter was still saddening to me. For various reasons, Lashlie advocates that around 11/12 when a boy starts adolescence, it is really time for mum to get off “the bridge of adolescence” and that dad should step up and take lead during this time. Lashlie is not saying that mother’s do not have a role, but that at this critical time in a boy’s life he needs his father more. (I am certainly glad I have some time to prepare my stepping down!)

Well my preparation time is now over and my husband and I have started the transition from me being the parent with the greatest direct involvement in our son’s life to it being his dad. We are finding our way with this and having known that this time was coming has made it some what easier for me. Having read the book I began to see some of the symptoms of an adolescent boy in my son and they were little flashing lights telling me my time is up.

Lashlie was a single mother at the time her son went through adolescence and in the book she writes:

“As the bridge of adolescence loomed, I felt I shouldn’t be going onto it with him. He was on his way to manhood, a concept I barely understood, and I knew I wouldn’t and couldn’t understand parts of the journey he was about to undertake.”

And In fact it actually makes so much sense now that it is here. I can see already how his dad understands the boy pragmatism that Lashlie writes about in her book, the pragmatism that to be quite honest frustrates me at times. For example, why bother making the bed, when I will just mess it up again tonight? I can see that I talk a little too much about things that he already knows, but just doesn’t show it! For example, he knew that he should have not responded by hitting his brother when he was aggravating him.

This is not to say that I don’t still have a deep connection with my son, because I do. He has a similar sense of humour and we have a great laugh together. He still tells me (selectively of course!) about stuff going on at school and with his friends. But the point is, if I want to plan of having that relationship into the future with my son, I need to give him the space he needs through this stage of his adolescent life. Next week, I will take you through some of the actual changes I have made to help this happen.

Do you have a son on the bridge of adolescence and have some tips for those of us just starting this journey?