Parents, We Need to Talk About This

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As a parent who has raised three teenagers, it doesn’t surprise me that there is senior in high school in New Jersey (or anywhere else ) that would expect that her parents owe her absolutely everything, including college tuition.  It doesn’t surprise me that she feels that they are obligated in some way to continue her education at a private school while her obligation to them is absolutely nothing. This is the world that we are living in with this entitled generation that we are raising.  A while back I wrote a post entitled What Are We Doing to Our Children  that speaks to this very thing. The pampering and coddling of our youth that turns them into spoiled, demanding brats that sue their parents when things don’t go their way.  No, this teen’s actions while extreme, do not surprise me at all.  However, what does surprise me are the actions of the parents of the classmate that this girl is living with while this all plays out in court. This, parents, is what I want to talk to you about.

Parenting is a hard job.  A really hard job. We (parents) do things differently.  We approach things from different perspectives and we use different solutions depending on the needs of our family.  And, I’m just going to be honest, parenting during the teen years can be absolute hell  challenging.  Every teenager that I know tests the boundaries (some more than others) and it can push us all to our absolute limits.  In the spirit of keeping things really, really real, Big Poppa and I often fantasized about the day that our older children would leave home.  We were so over all of the drama and teen angst.  They thought that they were the ones who couldn’t wait to get out of our house and away from our rules, but we were just as excited to see them go.  In fact, I packed for them.  Would we miss them?  Probably, but we really wanted the opportunity to find out.  The thing is, it is our job as parents to establish rules that not only provide protection for the well-being of our families but also, the sanctity of our own homes.  We set the bar when it comes to respecting our authority.  It is complete negligence on our part if we don’t at least attempt to establish some ground rules for living in our home and carry out the consequences when the rules are broken.  A child who is not required to show respect for his or her parents will not respect anyone else.

Tell me, if a friend of your son or daughter comes to you in need of a place to stay because their parents are allegedly physically and verbally abusive and have thrown them out of their house; do you call the police or, ultimately hire a lawyer (paid for by you) to sue her parents for living expenses?   Enter, the classmates parents who are funding not only this girl living with them but also her attorney’s fees in her lawsuit against her parents.  Big Poppa and I were just floored!  Let me be clear, I’m all for offering a kid shelter when they need it.  Things happen and sometimes people need a cooling off period before they can see clearly.  However, providing the retainer fees for the lawyer probably did not encourage any cooling off.  On the contrary, it just fanned the flames. Shouldn’t the goal have been reconciliation?  Isn’t it usually the case that the that the truth lies in the middle?  Are we really sure that this is the path we want to encourage our young people to take? I can not for the life of me comprehend what made these people think that this would be a good idea.

Never mind that the presumed friendship between the two sets of parents is irrevocably destroyed but, more importantly, the relationship between the parents and their daughter may never be the same again.  I watched on the news as her parents sat in court, her mother with silent tears streaming down her face and her father looking like a deer in the headlights. What parent ever thinks that they will ever be in this position?  None. But with the assistance of “well-meaning” adults?  Well, that’s just unconscionable.  The truth is that we’re in this together, people. We are parenting warriors!  We’re all out here trying to raise our kids to the best of our ability and it’s hard enough without being undermined by fellow warriors.  Whether we recognize it or not, we need each other to exchange ideas; as a source of information; to establish a network.  We are each other’s village.  So, if you ever hear that one of my kids is sick of living under my unreasonable rules and is looking for somewhere to stay, please keep your money in your pocket, give them a good talking to with a cup of hot chocolate and send their butt home.

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