What I’m learning from my teenager | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Time flies. My son Mark’s first day in nursery seems like just yesterday. He turned 16 last December, graduated from high school last month, and, at six feet tall, continues to be half of my bundle of joy—the other half being Joshua, of course.

Mark has grown up to be a young man with wisdom beyond his years. I am always amazed at how he treats problems as challenges, and luxuries as bonuses in life.

This morning, I had the chance to spend some time with him. I was looking at some of his old photos, which made me reminisce on what he had gone through as a baby. Mark was born prematurely, on the first week of his supposed seventh month in my womb. I had been rushed to the hospital four days earlier because of complications. The day I was discharged, I had to be rushed again to the hospital the same night.

I delivered Mark via Caesarean section in the early morning of Dec. 16, 1994. And since he was about two months premature, he had to stay in the prenatal nursery of the hospital for a month. He went through a lot of pain. I can’t tell you enough, but some of you may know how it feels when a newborn is going through such an ordeal.

Knocking off his breathing tube

He was then transferred to a regular room, and after a few days, he literally knocked off his breathing tube and kicked the porthole of his incubator! I panicked and called the nurse, who tried to put his tube back, but for some reason, Mark kept moving his head, as if telling us he didn’t want it. My tears of worry then became tears of joy when the nurse and doctor told me that Mark was relaying the message that he could already breathe by himself.

Fast-forward many years after, and Mark is now going through the challenges of being a teenager. The good thing is that he knows that he will have to deal with them with an open mind. I reminded him that his world will become bigger, and he will experience new things which he may not fully understand.

I also kept reminding him that I will be there when he needs to talk about anything. True enough, there are times when his spirit becomes weak and confused, especially when it comes to difficult decisions, when he cannot tell right from wrong.

We had a misunderstanding once, and in our discussion, he shed a tear and said, “I feel bad because I feel what I’m doing is always wrong.”

I answered: “Mark, you are at an age where you are faced with a lot of new things. I know you may not mean to hurt with your words, but you have to know that what you feel at the moment may not be the same as what others feel. I am not saying you’re wrong. You just don’t know right from wrong yet.”

Doing something intentionally might be seen as wrong, I told him. But at his age, he is still learning about tact and empathy. That is why I am pointing out to him the times when he may already be hurting others with his words, so he would know.


Now that you’re a teenager, Mark, don’t think that any decision you make will be judged as wrong, especially those that don’t turn out well. I may get angry at times, but it’s more worry than real anger. That is why we should talk about it.

I can never tell you what decisions you should make. But as your parent, I hope you will allow me to fulfill my responsibility to help prepare you for bigger things ahead.

I love you very much. You make me proud of what you already are, and thankful that I am privileged to share life with you.

Being a parent is no easy task. It is not something we sign up for and take for granted. We not only have to fulfill our children’s basic needs, but we are also responsible for guiding them through most of their experiences, at the different stages of their life.

It is an immense challenge for us, but if we fail to recognize this, they will end up finding comfort and reassurance somewhere else. Still, we have to keep in mind that being a teenager is no easy task. If we truly respect them, we must listen to what they have to say.

Maybe this will help us comprehend the world that young people are living in nowadays. It is what it is, and we cannot turn our backs and deny ourselves the opportunity to understand more. We may then strike more of a balance between how we impart our opinions to our children, and how they will eventually decide to lead their lives.

Mark continues to be a source of inspiration and strength for me. I feel truly blessed and thankful about how we shared the first few months of his life, and I continue to feel the same up to now. Through that experience, I learned to be more resilient and tolerant. And with him and Joshua by my side through the years, I’ve realized how happiness can truly multiply.

Marina A.S. Benipayo is a personal development speaker and conducts seminars for image enhancement, behavior management, employee motivation and human empowerment. She is also an instructor at the School of Fashion and the Arts. You may contact her through her e-mail at [email protected], or her website at www.marinabenipayo.com.

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