Dads and the Teen years

My son is growing so rapidly. He says he found "a hair" on his chest yesterday, and has been sprouting hair in other areas for a while now. He's getting tall and lanky, and is pushing boundaries. One of these days I will no longer be able to resist getting crushed by a big hug - if he still wants to hug me when that time arrives...

And yet I worry so much about the years that are approaching, those dreaded Teen Years.

A while back he told me "gramps is going to have to teach me to shave one day, cos I don't have a dad". I told him I was sorry he didn't. He said he doesn't want one, he likes it the way it is.

I'm not convinced. I grew up with two parents, and know what he's missing out on. I also know my limitations, and that there are many things I cannot be, cannot do. I can't be a male role-model. I can't be a dad. I can't do everything - and some times I feel selfish for wanting him to just get to sleep so I can go to bed after a long hard day. Those are the times he seems to need more of me than I'm able to give.

How do I handle these years ahead?

I know he has two great role-models in my brothers, but we don't see them that much (they live a half-hour's drive from here, but have lives of their own that keep them busy), and there's no-one else immediately available.

How do I handle the discipline when he pushes me too far? Maybe I've been too slack over the past years. He was always a good kid, never needed serious punishment or discipline. A word or a look was generally enough - but I suspect that is changing. How do I say "go to your room" when he doesn't have one? How do I deal with all those potential issues? How do I enforce my authority when he stubbornly says "no"?

What do I know about boy's bodies, how they change, how they function, what hormones are ebbing and flowing?

I'm full of questions about the future. I don't know if we'll have it relatively easy or not. I know he's going to go through a time of questioning who he is and where he fits in - will I be able to ease him through that, secure and confident in the fact that he matters? Or is it too late for that already?

I'm pretty sure most single moms of almost-teen boys have the same stuff going through their heads, especially if there has never been a dad in the picture. A "broken family" is never ideal, never in God's plan I'm sure. And yet it happens.

And one of two things is the result:

1. A man who can't deal with his past, his dad-less state, and who faces years of counselling or seeking out that missing person to complete his image of who he is. Who can't emotionally committ to a marriage fully, because growing up he didn't have a good one modelled to him.

2. A man who can deal with his past, and has come out whole and strong, able to love and be a dad despite it all.

I so, so hope that my son is a #2. That the scars from a situation I cannot change won't run too deep. That I truly HAVE done all I can to raise him up well.

And yet....