Monday, July 08, 2013

Frank Talk on Effective Parenting

Wow, what a boring title! Who would want to read on? Well, reader, give me three more lines and trust that I am telling the unvarnished truth.

The other day I was talking to a woman, a bit younger than myself, who has a 19-year-old daughter, same age as The Spare.

This woman was mad at her daughter. It seems the daughter dropped some Molly. The mother said, "I'm okay with pot and alcohol and mushrooms, you know, natural stuff. But I draw the line at synthetics. I told her if she took Molly again I would take her car away."

It's hard raising children, isn't it? Doesn't get any easier when they hit the late teens.

I wasn't sure how to respond to this woman's parenting struggles, especially after she described a trip she and her daughter took to Peru in which they drank hallucinogenic cactus juice and hiked in the Andes. But I admit that this did sound like the kind of mother-daughter bonding that can lead straight to club drugs.

As it happens, I'm mad at The Spare just now myself. It seems she has bought yet another dress from the thrift store. I said, "I'm okay with last week's shorts and the earrings and the beach bag, you know, the bargain stuff. But I draw the line at dresses. Spare, if you buy another dress, I'm going to take your makeup away."

You see? I'm just as bad a parent as the next gal. I can be angry at crossed lines. I can issue dire threats. And you know what? Spare's issues are my fault, because she and I often go to the thrift store together. This is just the kind of mother-daughter bonding that can lead to bargain-hunting at the mall.

When it comes to raising children, there's no easy answer. Where do you draw the line? Well, as for me, I let society draw the line for me. I know it's a cop-out, but telling my daughter not to smoke pot because it's illegal just makes things so much easier. Ditto for the booze, but in that case Spare has had ample opportunity to watch me partake ... and I made a botch of that often enough that she'll opt for Pepsi.

There's not much margin for error these days when it comes to growing into productive adulthood. Life is a minefield where even the best and brightest sometime get blown up. Sometimes, no matter what you do, your beloved child becomes alcoholic, drug dependent, or dangerously experimental. Why make it easier by showing her how to do it?

As for me and my house, we will follow the Goodwill.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree. Having raised 3 children, the last 18 and on her way to college in a month I have to say I have let the law be the heavy regarding booze, drugs and curfew. (they are not allowed out past 12midnight below the age of 18 legally here in GA) They know I would not bail them out right away if they are caught breaking those laws, I would let them stew a bit and they know it ain't pleasant.

Aquila ka Hecate said...

Oh, I dunno.
I was raised by parents who carefully didn't set an example of dangerous drug-taking, yet I became dependent. My son, who had my horrible example right in front of him, is unlikely now (at age 28) to follow in my footsteps.
It has much more to do with nature than nurture in this case, I think.
Terri in Joburg

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Your last line cracked me up! And I don't even know what Molly is, that's how out of touch I am.

Anne Johnson said...

Molly is a new club drug, sort of like ecstasy.