Fears of parenting a teen

kimkssJuly 21, 2008

Hi everyone! Am I the only one out there scared to death of raising a teenager? My son turns 15 in November and I am consumed with fear of what is to come. He is actually a good kid. I caught him in a lie recently and feel like I can't trust him at all. He asked if he could go to the beach with his 1/2 brother, his 1/2 brothers girlfriend, and his own girlfriend. I said only if there is a parent going to supervise as he is not allowed to actually date. He said the 1/2 brothers girlfriend is going so I called the mother to verify. She told me that she was indeed going. I found out a couple days later that she did not go and she lied to me. The trust is gone and it is very hard to deal with. I know that he is a teenager and they are going to test their limits.

I think back to everything and worry that I made bad choices. I just look back and can only remember the things that I wish I would have done better or differently.

I hope I snap out of this and hope it is just a phase.

Any others out there having a hard time realizing that your little one is now a teenager that is going to act like one? :-(

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I think you have to start easing back on the reigns. You are bound to have lots of conflict when you say you "can't" do things. I am not saying you should not have boundaries. I am saying that it's time to let him start making decisions about his own life, only then will he learn about consequences. What is wrong with going to the beach ?

Are you scared because you got up to some skulduggery when you where a teen ?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 7:03PM
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During the teenage years it is important to not be too lenient and not too strict. Trust that you have done a good job and raised a good child and give them some freedom.

I have learned that the stricter the parent the sneakier the child.

I was about 13 when I was allowed to start taking public transportation with friends and head to the beach and such. I don't reacall a time where I did anything at the beach that my parents would have disapproved of. I would say that I actually got in more trouble hanging out at friends houses than I did going to public places with them.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 9:30PM
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if he's been a good kid until 15- he probably won't go bad overnight... if he's 1/2 brother is older than that maybe enough supervision...also sometimes parents plan to supervise and don't- could that have been the case?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 10:43PM
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found out a couple days later that she did not go and she lied to me.

Maybe something came up and she couldn't go at the last minute. Maybe your son thought that she would be going and it wasn't a lie. If it bothers you a lot, find out what happened.

At 15, who wants to be supervised by a parent at the beach? I wouldn't have liked it.

It's like curfews. If you give your son/daugther a curfew of 11pm. What's to say they're not going to do what they want to do at 8pm?

We're in family therapy and are learning parenting skills on how to parent a child who is anxious (our 16 yr old daughter has anxiety). We were told that you have to do the opposite with an anxious child as you would with a "regular" child in regards of being "protective". It's normal to be protective of your child, but with an anxious child, you have to be a lot less protective in order for them to be more self-confident to minimize their anxiety.

Our therapist told us that any child shouldn't be too protected as it does impair their self-confidence and ability to socialize. It's important to let them have some freedom before college/university. Our theparist said that she deals a lot with young adolescents who have drug/drinking problems that started when they went to college/university because they "let loose" too much. Most of them had little freedom before that and went wild when they were finally on their own!

I'm learning that giving my daughter a little more freedom and independance is actually helping me to not worry so much about her because I can see that she can stand on her own and take care of herself. It's like my daughter told me once, "You've given me the tools on how to live a healthy and safe life, so now you have to give me the chance to use them."

I've also told my daughter that we trust her completely. However, should we ever find out that she lies to us, we will not be able to trust her anymore which will result in less freedom. Also told her that there is no reason to lie as we will, together, find a solution to whatever circumstance arises that she would feel she needs to lie about.

As an example, I told her that say she asked us to go to a party and we said no. She goes anyways, but the driver is pissed drunk and she is scared to go into the vehicle with him/her. She calls home and her Dad goes to pick her up. I told her that although she wasn't supposed to go in the first place, she did prove that she has good judgement by calling home for a safe ride home. It would show us that she can be responsible for her own safety. I wouldn't want her to be too scared that we found out she went to a party she wasn't supposed to go to so she gets in the car with an impaired driver and gets killed or hurt. She would still get disciplined for having gone in the first place, but the next time there's a party, we might let her go because she showed good judgement the first time.

Remember when you were that age? The more strict the parents are, the less open your child will be with you.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 11:43PM
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How does he have a girlfriend, if he's not allowed to date? Didn't quite get that.

Anyway, it's certainly NOT always true that the stricter the parent, the more sneaky the child. In some cases, yes, that happens, but even if it does, the fact that the child is sneaking around means that THEY'VE LEARNED THE LESSONS YOU WERE TEACHING. They DO know right from wrong, and those lessons stay with them throughout life, even if they violate them a few times as teens.

Few parents in our town were stricter than we were--as a high school teacher in town, I was on top of things always, and determined that my dd wouldn't get herself in the kinds of trouble that many of the unsupervised kids did. Yes, I know of a few (very few) things she 'snuck' to do, but another point about being strict--often the stuff they sneak to do is usually pretty minor. ALL teens try to stretch the limits. If they have very liberal rules, they have to do something really outlandish to prove to themselves that they're beyond their parents' control. For someone who has parents who care enough to give them the rules they need to ground them and keep them safe throughout those challenging teen years, they can get that same feeling of autonomy by doing some really minor stuff. So you're still coming out ahead with strict rules. And as a teacher, I can assure you, that generally speaking, the kids with the stricter rules tend to have less problems--they know the limits, they may or may not follow them, but the know the difference between right and wrong and that's a huge success for any parent.

Back to the original problem. I think, OP, you're giving your son mixed messages if you've told him he cannot date yet, but that he and his girlfriend can go to the beach together (chaperoned or not, that's a 'date'). As parents, you and his father need to decide whether you're planning on being his parent, or his friend. For us, there was no question of our role. Parenting was the more important to us. And now? She's an adult--she got a good education, has an excellant job, is self-supporting, self-sufficient, bought herself a house (on her own) last year. She's responsible, and is the one in her group that everyone comes to to solve their problems because she gives really good advice. And she is NOW one of my best friends. We talk a couple of times a day, enjoy going to the movies, out to eat, being there for each other. It's worth it to be the best parent you can be, because you get the best child possible that way.

Good luck.

(Know I didn't tell you specifically how to handle your child--but that's something each family has to work out for themselves. As long as you love him, and care about his future, you'll both find your way)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 8:44AM
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Thanks for the words of wisdom.

Azzalea - He has a girlfriend but I do not allow them to go out alone. I allow him to hang out with her in group settings such as going to the movies with a group of friends, etc. She can come over but only if I am home and they do not go into the bedroom alone with door closed, etc. Same rules if he goes over to her house and I usually discuss things with the girls parents. I don't tell him he can't have a girlfriend because he'll just say she's a friend and do it anyway. I don't know if it's right or wrong but it was how I chose to handle things. It first started with calling a girl your "girlfriend" but you don't even talk, that revolved into phone conversations, that revolved into asking if she could come over, etc.

What I didn't like about them going to the beach is that it is one 16 year old fresh with a license in March, one 15 year old and two 14 year olds. The 16 year old and the 15 year old are sexually active with each other. That leaves the two 14 year olds - my son and his girlfriend. I feel that is a "double date" and I do not allow dating until he is 16. They can hang out but not date. :-) I'm sure I'm going to get some comments about that last sentence. I'm not saying the parent has to sit with them on the beach. She doesn't have to have her eye on them at all times. I don't feel that the 16 year old 1/2 brother is looking out for him..he spends more of his time kissing his girlfriend and figuring out how they get alone time to have sex. Especially because my son feels like he can do whatever he wants when he is with his 1/2 brother.

Anyway, my son said that he found out right before they were leaving for the beach that she was not going. I told him that he could have called and pleaded a case with me and asked for me to put my trust in him instead of doing it behind my back. I told him that I would have worried but would have had some trust in him for being honest with me about the parent not going. Since he lied he lost trust with me. I was just very upset about the mother specifically knowing that I was letting him go because she was going and then she didn't go. I would never have done that. I would have let the parent know that I changed my mind, etc.

Anyway...I am trying to balance letting him do things but not letting him have too much freedom. He is going to be in 9th grade this year and I know that I have going to have start letting go.

And yes...I was a teen from hell! My mom always warned me that how you treat your parents you will be treated 10x worse by your kids. Yikes!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 10:22AM
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I understand what you're saying about dating vs. hanging out. My point was that a TEEN does NOT see the distinction there (which is why, in our house dating and 'hanging out' with solo guys was off-limits to dd until she was 16). They're wired completely differently than we are.

You're giving him extremely mixed messages (reread your last post, but pretend a stranger wrote it, and I think you'll see what I mean). Which is how you and he ended up in this pickle. It really didn't seem that wrong to him--especially, now that you say you know the 16 year old is spending all his time making out with the girlfriend. Your son almost surely figures you don't think that's all that bad since you were willing to let him tag along, knowing that's what they'd be doing. It's the message your actions are sending that's giving your son problems.

Might be very much too late to change things. But I wouldn't be too hard on him for losing trust with you over this issue--I hate saying this and know you don't want to hear it, either--but you helped create the situation because your son really isn't sure exactly what boundaries he's supposed to be following. Your words are at odds with your actions, and I know it didn't seem all that bad to him when the plans changed last minute.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 10:47AM
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And yes...I was a teen from hell! My mom always warned me that how you treat your parents you will be treated 10x worse by your kids. Yikes!

LOL I know what you mean! Between my husband and I...Yikes! here too!

In our family therapy, my husband and I are the ones the therapist is dealing with at the moment. Our daughter is out of the sessions for now. We had to talk about how we were raised and what we thought about it. This was a way to allow the therapist to better understand why we are parenting the way we are and for her to better understand why we may have a hard time with her advice in certain situations.

My husband and I were raised so very different. He came from an abusive home, and I came from a strict old-fashioned home.

I think that I worry more about my daughter's anxiety than she does. I'm learning to let it go. I'm at a point where it's stressing me out too much and have the attitude that.. Oh well, she'll just have to handle it herself and see what happens.

I know that I wouldn't be too crazy letting my child go out with a new driver and a bunch of kids. Fortunately in Ontario, a new driver (16) can only drive with a licensed adult sitting next to him until he goes for the second part of his license 12 months after getting part 1, which is a road test, and then he can drive on his own without a licensed driver sitting next to him. (Ontario driver's license is obtained in 3 parts... you first get your G1 (writtten test), then 12 months later (or 8 months if u take a driving course) you get your G2 (road test), then you get your G (another road test).

Give your son another chance to prove to you that you can trust him. It will help to keep the lines of communication open between the two of you.

I know more about my neighbour's daughter's life than she does. My daughter tells me things and says that maybe I should talk to so-so's mom. I tell her that it's not my place. Supposedly so-so can't talk to her mom. She will even tell ME things and say "I wish I could talk to my mom like this." She says her mom is so strict that she won't even "discuss" stuff with her without "freaking" out! What's true or not, I don't know. All I do know is when I was talking with the mother one day and I was telling her something that my daughter was going through at school and how her daughter was being very supportive to my daughter, she said she didn't know cuz her daughter doesn't talk to her at all. IMO, the mother is so busy with her life and doing things for herself (she's very selfish) that she doesn't take the time to spend "quality" time with her 2 daughters. The girls (16 and 14) are always left alone at home. So-so has told my daughter that she feels that her mother doesn't care at all about her. That she is strict only because she can be in control. She doesn't even try to have an open line of communication with her, which is why she doesn't talk to her. My daughter tells me frequently "You're lucky that I talk to you and Dad and tell you stuff cuz a lot of my friends don't even talk to their parents."

She's a very good kid. But it's like the OP said in one post... you get it back 10X. It's like... I'm waiting for the BOOM!!! LOL

But we have to remember, that was us and this is them! Just because we made some bad choices in life doesn't mean that they will make the same. They might make worse, and yet they might not. Some lessons are only learned by making the mistake ourselves. My neighbour is so afraid that her daughter will make the same mistake as she did at 16 that she is so strict. This only resulted in her daughter feeling that she can't be trusted, has no self-confidence, and can't take care of herself. My neighbour once told me that maybe if her parents were more strict, she wouldn't have been married so young.

All in all, I guess it depends on your child and his behaviour so far. I know that we have to give them the chance to grow up and make decisions for themselves. It's hard "letting go" but then I know that I have to do it. It's life! There's also the fact that you can give them the freedom they want so badly but with the understanding that this "freedom" comes with "rules". The more they live by these "rules", the more they are proving themselves to you by showing maturity and responsibility, which results in more "freedom". Anyways, that's my take on it. Whether it's good or not, I don't know.

A friend from Edmonton came down this past weekend. Her son is 16. They are having a lot of trouble with him... drinking and smoking pot, coming in at 2am. She is so stressed out! She says he has like 50 friends! His life is so busy with friends that she hardly sees him. The father is too lenient on him and has that "what can you do?" attitude. We live in the country where there are only so many kids (friends). Lucky for me!!! LOL But daugher hates it!!!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 12:18PM
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Kimkss, I have a 16 year old and an almost 19 year old, and my rules for 9th grade were very similar to yours. I never told my kids they couldn't have a girlfriend (or boyfriend). They could go out in groups to movies, they could hang out at their friend's home if supervised by a parent, no going in the bedroom with the door closed, etc. And they knew right up front that mom would be walking by the family room frequently offering drinks, putting away laundry, etc.

I explained very clearly to my kids what was and was not acceptable to me, and why I made that decision. My experience was different than the above poster's, my kids did (and do) understand the difference between hanging out and dating, at least as I defined it.

My pastor told me something when my oldest was young that changed my whole perspective on parenting. We were going through a patch that was difficult for me, and my pastor said, "Look at this as your opportunity. You're blessed that you are getting the opportunity to explain your point of view now." He wasn't talking about discipline, but rather about explaining some difficult spiritual concepts. But I took his approach and applied it to every area of parenting.

Here are the things that have been successful for me with my teens:

1) When I make rules or decisions, I usually explain why. That's my opportunity to communicate my values.

You could squeeze a boatload of teachable moments out of the whole going to the beach with a sexually active 16 year old scenario. Yes, it's scary and not good that he lied, but find the silver lining in that cloud - this is your opportunity to educate your son.

2) I try to make sure I'm approachable and open to my teen's concerns and differences of opinion. I try to make sure my teens know that if they don't agree, they can always plead their case. This is a great skill for kids to learn - they will have to be persuasive in their careers and in their adult relationships. So this is my opportunity. When kids disagree and explain why, it accomplishes so many things - they have to think about what they want to do, why they want to do it, what are the pros and cons, and they have to be able to articulate that in a convincing way.

3) Follow through consistently with consequences. My kids knew that as surely as they disobeyed, if they were caught the consequences would come sure as the sun rises every morning. When my kids messed up, that was my opportunity to reinforce that life is more uncomfortable and unrewarding when they make poor choices. As I said to myself many times, "Best they learn this lesson at 14 than at 40".

4) If you know that you are a good and reasonable parent, then have confidence in your decisions. Get any five parents together and you will hear five different opinions about the same issue. There is more than one way to raise a good teenager. I'm not talking about extreme parenting - it's never a good idea to encourage your kids to shoot heroin - but things like curfews, bedtimes, whether or not to have a summer job, group dating, etc.

In normal situations, for normal (good) teens, with normal (good) parents, it's not just one or two bad decisions that ruin the teen. It's a whole string of them. Teens are very resilient and very smart. All parents make some bad decisions and some mistakes. I did the best I could and had confidence in myself. Because when I didn't have confidence, I didn't enforce my decisions, my kids could sense my weakness like a shark smells blood. Bouncing back and forth like a yo-yo was worse for my kids than a reasonable consistency. I agree with the quote "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds", but once I made a reasoned, well-thought out decision, I stuck with it unless something happened to show me I was wrong.

For me, raising teenagers was scariest just about the place you are now. But as time when on, I saw so many terrific teenagers doing amazing things, it really does get less scary.

I wish you the best. I'm still navigating these waters myself. So far so good.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 4:35PM
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Daisyinga - your comments were very insightful and really felt that you knew exactly where I was coming from. My rules with having a girlfriend are the same as yours. My son hangs out with boys and girls that are his friends and if I told him he couldn't have a "girlfriend" he'd just not tell me. Him and his girlfriend don't do anything more than tell each other they love them after being boyfriend and girlfriend for 10 minutes and talk on the phone. The last "long term" girlfriend he had which lasted a couple months (a record for him) he actually kissed. I just feel that with parents around or in public places they are less likely to take things to the next step. I know that when he is 16 and has a license it is unreasonable to follow him everywhere and watch his every move.

You just love them so much that you want to make the right decisions so in 20 years they are living healthy happy lives. The pressure!

Also we live in a small town so you know most of their friends and are comfortable when they bum around together. We are building a new house 1/2 hour away and I think the fear of him making new friends has gotten me a little nervous. He'll be going to a new school. I guess I'll just take one day at a time.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 5:27PM
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Daisyinga - I also thought your comments were very helpful, thanks for your insight.

Kimkss - My son is also starting a new school, in January. Tough road for them, I think. Its a challenge for them to grow from.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 7:38PM
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When I make rules or decisions, I usually explain why.

This is so important! Our daughter used to resent certain rules until we explained why such a rule existed. Although she might not like some of them anyways, she knew it was for the best. I think it also helped her to "respect" the rules.

My daughter is starting a new school in September too, in the 11th grade. The new school has double the amount of kids and is so big! She will not know a soul! She's going from French schooling to English schooling. We all know that her anxiety will kick in big time. But, like she says, she can't be afraid to do things because of her anxiety and she will just have to deal with it.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 7:49PM
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Hi, my name is Stephanie, and I'm the parent of a teen son. ;o) My oldest turned 15 this month. It is taking me forever to post to this thread b/c I have so much to say I don't know where to start! And now I've got a lot on my mind, and I've had coffee too late at night, so you are in for it this time! LOL! This might be a book.

It's not exactly fear that I feel about raising teens, but it is challenging. Makes me appreciate the simplicity of potty training! I'm just getting started, too, there are 3 more lined up behind him, every 3 years. So a year from now I'll have 2 teens, and soon enough they'll be 19, 16, and 13... and 10, so it looks like I'm here for a while! (That is what the PTAs see in me, "Oooo! She's gonna be here for years! Let's get her!") What have I done to myself!?! The food bill alone is giving me gray hairs, the boundaries navigation is going to make me insane.

We don't parent with a Rule Book. But a set of standards and expectations guides us: respect, responsibility, honesty. DS is a sophomore, he has a girlfriend of, oh, about 4 months now. Started at school, classes together, phone calls, IM-ing. Once summer break started, they wanted to spend some fun time together. She comes here, they go to our neighborhood pool; he goes there and to her family's church for the weekly teen night. They are never alone, in private. (Ha, here they also have the company of not only me, but 3 younger siblings, who can be an excellent obstacle to privacy! LOL) A few times a parent has dropped them off for a move, ice rink, etc. for a couple hours. Public places of amusement, no "just hanging out," the mall is not OK with me, I think they need to have a plan for what they are going to do with their time. I limit it to twice/week, just b/c I don't think they need to spend all their free time with each other; they should have time to hang out with friends, family, and just by themself. DS also has summer reading requirements for his honors lit class, so he has school priorities even now. So I'm really good with how this is going for now.

Tonight, my reason for being out so late.... he got a message from her that she and a friend, and her boyfriend, were going to the movie at 10:00. I agreed to drop him off and come back b/c the theatre is at the front of our subdivision (it's not even a bad walk in good weather) and I knew we'd be up anyway. As we pulled into the parking lot, she called to say she misunderstood, her friend's dad was taking them to a different theatre, 15 minutes away. So, figuring it was too late to catch them in time, we came home. Then she called again, said we can wait for next show at 10:45. Well, this is late, won't let out til after midnight. But I agreed as long as he didn't have a problem with me staying and watching the movie too - in a distant seat ;o) B/C it would be a waste of my time/gas to go back home when I needed to be back less than 90 minutes later, and it was just so late. That was my compromise, he took it.

I agree with the idea of noticing opportunities to share our values and "wisdom" with our kids. The fancy word for that in my education classes was "teachable moments." Teachable moments are very important to me. There is a corrolary, sometimes we get opportunities to learn about our kids, and we need to watch and listen and learn who they are and where they are going. Tonight I felt like I had one of those. Ended up being out later than I wanted either of us out, further from home that I wanted to be, not reading a book and soaking in my tub like I planned to be. ;o) But I observed the teen social life and now know better what to teach my son (in the morning!).

The friend his GF was with also met her boyfriend there. Turns out he was older, driving, and with 2 carloads of friends. Which means some of them had to be 18 to be driving at night with other teens, legally. I didn't know any of them, other than just recognizing faces from the neighborhood or subbing at the HS. They were well-mannered enough in the movie, I didn't observe any inappropriate behavior. But outside, one sat on the curb smoking. They all drove off leaving the younger girls standing there waiting for the dad to pick them up. If I had not been there w/DS, those 15 y/o girls would have been standing there for 20 mins alone, after midnight. Weekday night, there was no one else outside the theatre. So DS stood there w/the girls while I sat in the van at the curb.

Once the ride was there, his girlfriend came to my window and thanked me profusely. The dad picking up late said nothing to me, didn't even look at me. As we drove away, I asked DS the obvious question, "So Kristy's boyfriend is older than her, huh? Did you know him before tonight? Did you know any of his friends with him?" He said, "No, but I can't believe he didn't wait for Kristy's dad to get here. That was weird, what a jerk." (Good boy! LOL.)

Tomorrow I plan to have a conversation about knowing what is going on better before he agrees to go somewhere. It's not just cuz I'm nosey, but b/c he can't vouch for the behavior of people he doesn't know. He needs to make himself more informed, so he has all the information to make the best choices.

We can just never have enough conversations with the kids, can we? That is one thing that boggles my mind. I feel like I have so much to tell him, to talk to him about, to ask him... so many conversations to have. Yet if we parents talk too much, they block it out anyway. I have to think hard, to choose the words carefully so I get in what I need him to hear before he stops listening. Make my point before he tunes me out. Make every word a valuable one, so he knows when I'm talking it's something he should listen to, not another Rant From Mom.

I think I will be so much more confident and prepared when the rest are teens, but I bet they throw their own surprised in just to keep me on my toes. I am aware that they are watching their brother now, so what happens now sets the bar for the future.

If it's true that we learn to parent from our parents, I had a good education. My parents were great. I was minimal trouble as a teen, good student, worked, volunteered, studied/practiced my music. I didn't even taste alcohol until I was 20, never tried a cigarette, much less any illegal substance. My friends were the same way. I was a questioning kid, would defy a rule I thought was without merit. But my parents didn't really make that kind. When I refused to attend church at 15, mom fussed a little, but they just went without me.

My cousins caused a lot of trouble, from bad grades to teen pregnancy to arrests. They had a lot of priveleges, and distracted parents who made up for it with more priveleges. We're all adults now, and they have turned out fine, no one is still causing trouble. They just took the longer road to find their way. Now when we talk about growing up, they will say the always envied my brother and me because they wanted parents like ours. Even though there were more limits at our house, they loved to spend weeks with us in the summer b/c they knew the limits, they felt safe there, like someone was paying attention. One cousin told me that now that she is a parent, she looks to my mom as her example, not her own. As kids, I would never have guessed my cousins felt that way. I woudln't have thought it now, either, if they didn't say it. But since they have, I see it looking back. Even the one who caused the most trouble, never gave Aunt Susie trouble, he wouldn't have wanted to disappoint her, she believed in him. It is sweet to know now that my own mother was the stable factor in our whole family. So if I learned from that, that is a very good thing.

I commented to them that my mom has always had higher expectations of my that she does of anyone else. It was a whine, sometimes that has gotten to me over the years. But my cousin responded that I was lucky, because it is so much harder when your mom doesn't have any expectations of you at all.

Made me think about what expectations I put on my kids. She's right, it's better to have high, but reasonable, expectations for your kids to live up to than none at all. My expectations come right back to the standards I try to set: respect, responsibility, honesty. Among all my old and made up Mom-isms, I repeat to them often "Behave in a way that makes you proud of yourself."

Oh, and this Friday I agreed to chaperone a small group of friends at the pool, pizza, b-day cake. I let DS to the inviting, but the parents who I do not know well called me so find out what was going on, if I would be there, what they should expect. I was happy about that. So I'm going to get another learning opportunity, but this time with kids my son does know well. I do like his choices in friends, and he is always comfortable with me meeting them and their parents. Maybe that's just b/c he knows he doesn't have a choice anyway. ;o)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 3:14AM
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BTW, the movie we saw was "Hancock." OK, I admit, I am a Will Smith fan, so I wanted to see it, too. It was a really great movie! Also starred Jason Bateman, hadn't seen him in a while, he was good. Lots of surprises in the plot, very well done. Will Smith does everything well, IMO. But, just so ya know, it was PG13 for violence and language, which was heavy. So I wouldn't take anykid younger.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 3:21AM
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I have to think hard, to choose the words carefully so I get in what I need him to hear before he stops listening. Make my point before he tunes me out.

My daughter tunes out her dad a lot. She says that when he starts "preaching", that's it! LOL

Communication is the key element that we are working on at our family therapy. The therapist said that, in the end, "words" are a very miniscule part of communication. It's the way a person talks that speaks volumes. Your body language, facial expressions, etc. That's exactly what happens with my husband when he talks to our daughter. His hand is out there pointing, his voice is louder, the expression on his face is distorted, etc., which is an indication that he's in his "preaching mode" LOL which our daughter tunes out right away.

The therapist said that our problem, as a family, is that we are all aggressive people and we tend to interrupt each other when one speaks. We are learning to let the other person talk and we listen with "undivided attention". It's important to not think of our next argument while a person is talking to us, because then you're not really listening.

One thing that really does work is using the "I" factor. I feel... I think... I want... etc., instead of the "You" factor.. You want... You make me feel.... You always... Its less "accusing" and it doesn't turn the other person "off". You're not "pointing fingers", not "ganging" up on anybody.

I wish that I could find the notes our therapist gave us on communication...grrr. Once we read them, I think that I got rid of them! LOL I'll look for them again. There was something about, when communicating with someone, to not blame, accuse, criticize, etc. It was called the "something" factor.

Among all my old and made up Mom-isms, I repeat to them often "Behave in a way that makes you proud of yourself."

I really like this. Thank you for sharing! We always tell her to be true to herself. I'll add your saying now too!;-)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 8:46AM
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Khandi, one thing that works well for me sometimes is to listen to my kids carefully when they talk to me with the goal of understanding their point of view. I only interrupt or interject to get them to clarify something they are saying. When they are finished, I say, "It sounds to me like what you are telling me is .....", and summarizing what they said. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes they correct me, but at this point our goal is for me to understand their point of view.

Then, I tell them that I need some time, maybe a day or two, to think carefully about what they said, and then we'll either talk more later or I'll make a decision.

That does a lot of things for my kids and for me. It keeps me from making snap decisions in the emotion of the moment. Sometimes something that seems terribly important at the moment doesn't seem quite so important the next morning. Or vice versa - I decide a seemingly trivial request is really the beginning of a road we really don't need to travel. But most of all it lets my kids know that their wishes and desires are so important that I won't override that lightly and without a lot of thought.

After a day or so we talk more, and that's my time to explain my point of view. I find they will listen carefully and thoughtfully to me, as long as they feel like I truly listened and was open to what they said.

During the second round, I will repeat again my understanding of their views, and affirm that their thoughts are important. For many things, it helps to give my kids a time frame of when I'll reevaluate. For example, no, you can't drive down that dangerous highway right now, while you just turned 16. However, when you've been driving a few months, come back and talk to me and we'll reassess.

I don't use this technique for little things, usually only for big things or things that I truly am undecided about.

Good communication is a lot of work, at least for me. Perhaps it comes easier for other parents, but I have had to work at it very hard. But so far the results have been great.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 3:06PM
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I admit I haven't most of this, but this rang true in me:

"I told him that he could have called and pleaded a case with me and asked for me to put my trust in him instead of doing it behind my back. I told him that I would have worried but would have had some trust in him for being honest with me about the parent not going."

He had his good choice/bad choice in front of him. It's diappointing he didn't. But give him other chances. Be really ultra-open to the next time it happens and he does call. And it will, cause you got through (since he's a good kid I am assuming here).

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 3:59PM
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An excellent book is "10 Best Gifts for Your Teen" by Pat and Steve Saso.

I took the advice in the book in situations where I wasn't sure what to do. Good solid advice and easy to put into practice. I highly recommend it! Look on Amazon.com.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 4:46PM
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