The Semi-Detached Parent: Advice - Give Or Take?

10/05/2012 18:01 | Updated 22 May 2015
Woman giving son adviceRex

There have been times when I've wished I had a sensible and informed family 'elder' to give me advice. Good, proper advice, not opinion, or platitudes, or interference, or stuff they just think should be said.

I wish, in fact, that I had a Granny like 86-year-old Carmela. If you haven't read her words of wisdom on sex and relationships all condensed in to a 16 point letter to her granddaughter Alison, you can do so here.

So, whilst I don't agree with everything Granny C has to say, (though 3, 4, 7 and 10 are pretty on the money) I love the fact her life experience, obvious no-nonsense approach – and, probably the confidence of age – enables her to shoot from the hip. To say what she thinks. Good, proper, RAW advice. Which I am sure she gives out in abundance on all matters, not just bedroom-themed.

There is no way in the world anyone in my family - parents, grandparents, anyone - would have ever given the kind of advice Granny C gives her granddaughter. I grew up in a house where TVs were switched off the second anyone leaned in for a kiss, and sex was something only married people did, and then probably only at Christmas.

And advice was something generally handed out in the form of shouted orders and prolonged sulks and flounces if it wasn't acted on. Because of that, I am very careful about dishing out too much to my son, even at his young age.

Phrases like 'what you want to do' 'what you should be doing' and 'don't you dare do...' are banned in my house; they ring all too familiar in my head from my my own childhood and young adult years.

I am a firm believer that a certain amount of mistakes, both growing up and in adulthood, have to be made in order for lessons to be learned and better judgments formed in the future.

I prefer to suggest various scenarios to my little boy when I am worried he might make the wrong choice about something, or if I want to steer him in another direction; what could happen if you do X, compared to what might happen if you do Y.

Exploring options. Making him think things through rather than just stamping all over his own thoughts with my own. And when the time comes that those decisions are a little more serious than 'should I spend my pocket money on a Lego kit or a DS game' I hope I can remain as open-minded and guide him, rather than railroad him.

I hope this kind of approach will mean he can always come to me, no matter how old he is, or what he wants to talk about, and know that he will get unbiased guidance; more an exploration of ideas than the dreaded 'do as I tell you' or 'if I were you' that I heard growing up.

Despite this, given that he does in the main only have me to turn to on a day to day basis, it is one of those things I worry endlessly about getting the right balance of. What if, actually, he wants me to wade in and make a decision for him?

What if he is asking about things because he WANTS me to sway him to a particular line of thought?

With no one to step in and question the advice I am dishing it out, it can be hard to know if I am getting it right.

Which is why, sometimes, I really wish I had a Granny Carmela on hand...

Do you worry as a single parent that your children only get your take on things?

That there is no one else close for them to bounce ideas and worries off?

And how much advice is too much?

Suggest a correction