Saturday, November 3, 2007

help for hapless parents

My parents pretty much dropped the supervision ball with me (last kid, they were pooped) when I turned 14. I had no curfews, no chores, no limits, no consequenses, and did a LOT of dumb things. So it shouldn't have surprised me that, when my teens turned 14, I suddenly lost my moorings and felt I had no idea how to be a good, effective mom to them. After floundering for a while, I found a child and family therapist, and once a week I go and ask him really nuts-and-bolts questions: How much academic supervision does a 9th grader need? How much allowance should they get? What chores should they be doing? It's been really helpful to have someone to go to and cover all the lame-brain basics that no one covered with me.

But last week I finally got around to talking about the big stuff - sex, drugs. And the bummer is that, when it comes to the tough stuff, even an expert can't, finally, be expert for me. I have to figure it out myself. Shit! I hate that! Because the risks are so dire now: Drugs offenses are prosecuted more seriously; unprotected sex can be deadly.... And we can say (as the therapist essentially reccommended I do) NO, NO, NO!! Don't ever do drugs, don't have sex till you're in a committed, monogamous relationship with someone who has tested clean for everything. But to me that doesn't seem like a very nuanced, realistic answer to the very tough questions and challenges ahead of them. Which means I have to delve into my heart and figure out what I really believe and cross my fingers and hope i do OK for them. Scary. So this graffitti made me laugh. And really, it's not a bad anti-drug argument!

9 comments:

more cowbell said...

HAHAHA! That's me, mother of teenagers, laughing to avoiding running to the hills screaming. Solidarity, sister!

claire said...

I think that the main problem with the nonono thing is that there it essentially treats kids like they are still toddlers. They are dealing with the realities of sex and drugs and school administration and a lot of parents just don't get that 8th girls are giving boys blow jobs in the bathrooms at lunch. And no, I'm not making this up. Same thing with drugs. Kids are being exposed to this stuff earlier and earlier and I think other than saying no, we need to say to them why it's not a good idea because I think the "no" has become meaningless. Absolutely meaningless. You have to give them a reason why they should say no. So when I talked to my daughter's Girl Scout troop about this, I said, "Look, you want go to a party and find yourself not knowing at least half the people there and then get shit-faced and find yourself in a room with a bunch of guys you don't know. That's how you get raped."

I am BRUTAL in my language about this. I say flat out that at this age guys are one big walking hormone and that's not to say that someone is lying to you when they say they love you, but it also might mean they love you AND they want to get off. Girls at this age aren't looking for sexual satisfaction, they are looking for approval. Get approval elsewhere. You don't need to get it through sex.

You know I'm no prude, but I'm pretty shocked at the level of sexual promiscuity among kids in high school. I mean, it's so casual! Ho hum, even.

I guess what I'm saying is that the "no" needs to have a lot of common sense and an understanding of what pressues and choices they are facing behind it. It can't just be a "no."

Elizabeth said...

Cowbell: Yeah, we've gotta laugh because otherwise we'd go mental with the worry.

Oh Claire, I adore you. You do have a way of telling it like it is. Did the girl scouts choke on their cookies? Did their moms? Wish I could have been a fly on the wall. Also, I think you need to start blogging girl! You have such a great combo in directness, indignation, and humor. Really.

Ms. Place said...

Oh, this is poignant and funny at the same time. The thing is, you are talking to your kids about drugs.

And, no, I'm not really 'back.' I will be posting once per week at most on Dishin' Dat, or as the fancy takes me. Jane Austen's World and Jane Austen Today are simply taking too much time. But thank you for the visit! I always like seeing you stop by.

LilyLove said...

I have to laugh with Claire's comments!! She does tell it like it is! I loved the Girl Scout troop story.

more cowbell said...

may I add my voice to the "Claire needs to start blogging" chorus? I've looked for the non-existent link more than once! And yeah, fly on the wall at the GS meeting. ha!

Elizabeth said...

Claire: Hear that? The masses are clamoring for you and your incisive POV. Plus, it might be a great way to promote your mystery series..... Just something to think about.

EuroTrippen said...

I feel you on this one. I just went through this with my daughter: http://www.eurotrippen.com/2007/09/30/just-say-no-3/

If you ever figure out the perfect message & delivery system, be sure to let me know... I can use all the help I can get!

Elizabeth said...

Likewise. But doesn't it just suck that there is no one perfect message or delivery system? That's what I wanted the therapist to give me!!! curse those kids and their individual personalities and needs!