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Kids! Who'd Have Them?

Sex! The issue was always going to rear its embarrassing head sometime. These days, of course, sex education is part of the curriculum in most schools, so we shouldn't have to worry about steeling ourselves for an awkward tete-a-tete. Unlike many of the standard subjects, even application is included, along with the consequences of treating it too casually. Our kids may even be warned that their hormones are running riot and this will influence their behaviour and decision-making. Will it ever! Straight-A students become under-achievers overnight. Moods change. They are more secretive, downright sneaky on occasions. If you ask what's wrong, they'll bite your head off, or smile and tell you nothing is, which is probably worse because then you know it's a cover-up. This is the period when many parents become spies: listening at doors, regularly checking out facebook, hunting for diaries and letters, sometimes following their kids when they leave the house. What do they expect to discover - that their child is experimenting with a sexual relationship, same as they did when they were that age? And what then? The sensible course of action is not to take one. Just maintain the lines of communication, if they still exist, and be on hand to help, advise, or comfort and support when they need it. Carrying on with the CIA bit, plus ranting and raving while laying down the law won't stop nature taking its course. All it is likely to do is drive the kid further away and give the parent a nervous breakdown.

What happens after they graduate high school? Well, the ones who didn't trade learning for love may be at college; and we all know what a hotbed of vice and subversion those places are! Hang on a minute, though - isn't this what we wanted for them, an education as good as, or better than we had? Let's be glad they didn't drop out and are still keen to advance their learning. Maybe they aren't quite mature adults yet as they believe they are, but when their minds catch up with their physical development, most will look back on the fun and failures of those heady years as something they needed then, but don't any more. Many will have careers, or good jobs, and we won't have to worry about them, not with the same intensity. There are those, of course, who haven't yet crossed the line to embrace consideration and responsibility. Some aren't even aware it exists, or refuse to recognise it. Are you the not-so-proud owner of a slug boy or girl, that sloth-like breed which never surfaces until mid-afternoon, eats you out of house and home without contributing a penny, yet always seems to find the cash to go out clubbing all night? Stop beating yourself up because you can't get through to them - nobody can. Unless they are sending you bankrupt, be content that they still regard living with you as the preferred option, enabling you to spend some time with them, albeit in relative silence. At least when they are hogging the bathroom, or vegetating in their room playing video games, you know they are safe. Plenty of parents don't even have that small peace of mind.

No, bringing up kids isn't easy, neither is tolerating their idiosyncrasies and annoying habits; but you did make it possible for them to be a part of your life, so you have a commitment until they reach adulthood. You owe it to them, and yourself, to stay sane during that time; and afterwards to be physically, mentally and financially able to continue on with your hopes and dreams. Maybe, by then, they will have changed, and I suspect it will be for the better. You will be able to learn from all of the joy, pain, the tears and triumphs, quite a few regrets probably, but many more happy memories that you will treasure for years to come. Your children expect this of you, and as long as you deliver, they will know that having a family is one of the most rewarding experiences life has to offer and is not to be missed.

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