The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Monday, June 15, 2009


An Unexpected Twist on Parenting

You know the scene in the movie when the Mom goes into the kid’s room to give a last good night kiss, and instead they find a faux human made of pillows, and the kid has run off somewhere?

When our daughter was missing from her bed, I did not react as calmly as Donna Reed might have in Father Knows Best. I don’t know who would have known best in the situation I found myself in, but it sure wasn’t me in that moment of discovery.

“OH MY GAWD!!!!” I screamed out for my husband. “HENRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Katie has been a rambunctious teenager. She has come in too late, had too much to drink, too much to smoke and gone too far away from home without asking if she could beforehand. 

She has been an honorable student and polite to strangers, but when it comes to getting her to put away her laundry or answering her cell phone when she’s out, she’s been a challenge.

I recognize Katie’s rage because it’s not that different from my own adolescent rants that still emerge from time to time.  Her beliefs are interwoven with contradictions but she can always justify them and sometimes what she says is hard to argue with. According to Katie, organized religion is the root of all evil, but she loves to rock out to Jimmy Cliff. (Ganga Man God.)  She thinks the police abuse their power in most situations but wonders why the police are never available to help the homeless people.  Homeless people should be respected as real and valuable however, her parents (Henry and me) have acted in ways that have not led her to respect us.

The list goes on.

Young people change the world, I know that, and so, when I found the rolled up clothes and pillows under the covers instead of Katie, after my shock I became quite thoughtful.

Maybe it was time for me to change.

Katie has just graduated from high school, it is the summer and I can’t stand fighting anymore. Henry and I did not devise a grand consequence for Katie after we tracked her down by texting all of her friends and eventually got her tucked away in her room.

As we lay in bed at two a.m., wondering how to be better parents to our teenaged daughter, we were exhausted. “Maybe it’s time to let her go a little,” Henry said.

Usually I was the bad cop parent, but at this point, I was too tired to enforce any more strict rules. “Yes,” I agreed. “What we’re doing is obviously not working.”

On Sunday morning after the debacle, we had “the talk.” We took a very different approach.

“Katie,” I said. “We know that you’re a good girl and are sure that most probably you regret the decision you made last night. We have a proposal for you that we’d like to try on an experimental basis. ”

She looked at me suspiciously.

“We would like to lift your curfew.” The surprised smile and delight on her face was large.

“Show us that you can handle it, which means you cannot be unreasonably late every night. Keep in touch with us so we know where you are, and help out around the house more. Show us more respect so we can give you more responsibility.”

Henry was unusually quiet. We usually spoke over each other during these group parenting events, but we both remained calm, and hopeful.

Like I said, this is an experiment, and we will see how it goes one night out at a time. Letting go, separating, leaving home, it is all so uncomfortable and awkward; but it does have to happen eventually.

By Gloria Saltzman

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Gah! I am not looking forward to those days. My 14 year old son is starting to act out, give me unreasonable amounts of attitude and backtalk. I know that this is what he's supposed to be doing, testing boundaries and finding his place in the world, but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it! Good luck. I think I'll play along with the home game if you don't mind and see how it goes for you.
Good luck with your experiment. I like your approach!

My kids are in college so I'm done with those days - but I feel for you ladies. Just understand that all teenagers go through this stage, and the fact that they act out and sneak out has nothing to do with the fact that you aren't doing your job as parents.

Speaking of a unexpected twist on Parenting, my coworker just forwarded me this very funny video she saw on You Tube. Talk about an unexpected twist. However, with the kids in college now, I may be open to a twist like this! LOL
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