It happened about a year ago. I inherited a small cafe. There are people around. My son is on his phone; we are chatting. Suddenly he asks: «Mom, what porn should I watch?»
People at the tables around us freeze. They direct their attention to the child’s voice (his voice sounded childish then).
«Well, first of all, you should go for good-quality, professional porn. But you might have to pay for it. Second of all, I prefer American porn, from the official recording studios; it’s just a personal preference, though,» I responded. «Most importantly, don’t watch awful home videos. They are just miserable. And of course you should absolutely avoid all videos with violence and paedophilia; they are not good for your karma…»
Men forget about the women with whom they came here. Using negative facial expressions, the women express unhappiness at what they just heard. My son and I continue talking about porn: why, and what, and how. The most important thing for me during this moment is nurturing my twelve-year-old’s comfort with such questions, since he need not be embarrassed! He doesn’t care if anybody listens to him.
I call it trust.
We have grown, and are still growing, without a dad. In other words, I am a single mom. From the beginning I understood that I would have a to be a special kind of mom in order to break the stereotype that incomplete families are never successful.
I have worked on my son’s trust since his birth, and still continue to do so. I do it because I know that trust can be lost in an instant, even if it took years to earn.
In almost 14 years of being a single mother, I have come up with the main rules of trust:
1. Never laugh at your son
For a man, a woman’s mockery is always traumatic. A mother’s mockery is an even deeper wound. It doesn’t matter whether you are laughing at him for putting his pants on the wrong way, for a crooked dog he drew or for confessing his love to the girl next door. Your mockery will be remembered forever! And it will never be forgiven.
2. Always answer his questions
At any age! It should never be «just because» or «you’ll understand when you grow up.» You should also respond to any question that he may ask. You don’t know the answer? Say that you don’t know the answer. Later learn the answer and let him know. Are you embarrassed? Did his question make you blush? Great! Now you can analyse one of your sexual hang-ups. Just don’t try to push them onto the conscience of your child. Say that the question confused you and you need time to think. Simply ask for more time to think about the answer. Kids tend to be nice about that.
3. Ask him for advice when making decisions
You can’t imagine the ease with which your child can deal with something you’ve been battling all year. They can solve any problem! From «what should our house look like» to «I am doing something wrong?», your kid probably has a good suggestion. That is how a boy learns to be a man, by supporting your decision-making. And in return, you show him your trust and respect.
4. Forget the words «I told you so!»
Even if you already told him, and he didn’t listen, forget this phrase forever. You should not compete with a child in everything. «I told you so» reflects a zero-sum competition in which the mother is happy about her victory. You were right? Keep calm about it. He will come to understand.
5. Praise him
Instead of saying, «good, but this needs to be fixed,» just say «Cool!» Your child does everything cool! When he grows up, he will see what should have been fixed.
6. Support his dreams
«I want to be an archaeologist» — cool! Buy books on that topic. Now «I want to be an artist». Also cool. Buy books on that, too. And then «I want to be an engineer»… Do you get the idea? Good! Believe me, he will only decide what he wants to do for real by his twenties.
7. If your child is crying…
It means something bad happened. Maybe it seems like something petty to you (the kindergarten served awful oatmeal instead of his favourite one), but it could be immense for him. Any problem is immense for him because his world is so small that even oatmeal can pose a threat beyond what he is comfortable dealing with. If a bad thing happened, you should calm him down. No matter how old he is. It’s a rule, a law of your mutual understanding. A child shouldn’t cry disconsolately. Ever.
8. Don’t lecture him
I don’t believe any comments are needed on this one.
9. You are always on his side
Not only in words, but also in your actions. You should never be on the side of teachers that complain about him, never scream at him with other the members of your family. In front of people he is always right. YOUR SON IS ALWAYS RIGHT!
If you follow these rules, be prepared for your son to ask you the most intimate questions. He knows that you are not going to scream at him, «What kind of questions are those?» or «Aren’t you ashamed?» He trusts you. In other words, he will have full confidence in you. That’s a dream of any mother, and it’s achievable.