Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Have We Done More Harm Than Good?

I was an only child.  Left to my own devices with both parents working or gone most of the time I was growing up.  I was bored, lonely, and you know what they say about idle hands...

My mother wasn't very affectionate, my Daddy was my step-father (the only dad I ever knew) and he was kind, but we muddled through developing a common ground.  I had a lot of resentment, anger, and teenage angst I struggled through while maintaining a quasi-positive exterior and persona.

When I was 21, I was diagnosed with cancer.  When I told my mother her reply was, "You're too young to have cancer."  What?

After successful treatment, the return of the cancer followed by surgery that seemed to be successful, they told me having kids might be tricky.  So I was anxious to have a child.  At 25, the love of my life was born.

As I brought him home from the hospital, I did what most people of my generation did....I swore I'd break the cycle and be a better parent.  I'd be supportive, loving, and be there for every moment of his life.  I'd quit my job, raise him myself, and never miss a moment.  My husband fully supported this idea.

Thus a generation of Helicopter Parents were born.  I didn't put him on a leash, I didn't baby-proof everything, I didn't hover, a wasn't a true Helicopter Parent, more like a Drone, watching from a distance, ready to drop a bomb on whatever situation he needed to be saved.  Boy did I have a few over the years, all without his knowledge of course.

I took him to all the major theme parks, I took him to the major National Parks, we've travelled through most of the country seeing historical sites, pro ball games, restaurants, and every "big-ball-of-string" the back roads offered.  I tried to show him things most kids didn't get to see.  He hated every moment of it, but I figured when he was an adult, he'd appreciate the exposure...the adventure.

He's 17 now, practically a man, a Senior next year, then college.  I never pushed for a perfect GPA, just A's & B's (even if it was all B's), I never pushed for extra curricular activities, I never made him do chores (school was his job). I do push for him to aspire to go to a real college, not the Community College in the strip mall up the street, I try to encourage, but when he rebels, I back off.

He said he felt too much pressure to not fail which makes him angry and violent. He asked if we meant it when we said we were proud of him, because he feels like everything he does isn't good enough.  I was blown away.  I hug him and tell him I love him.  Every.  Single.  Day.  I brag about him almost daily because I can't believe how lucky I got to have such an extraordinary child.

I realized last night I lost the battle.  I didn't do it right.  He's never had a broken bone, he's never suffered real defeat, and he's never learned how to be self sufficient.  He's sullen and angry.  He hates me.  I realize a lot of that has to do with his hormonal changes, but he told me to treat him like an average teenager.  He "just wants to be average".  Treated like his friends are treated.

What is an average teenager?  I have friends with kids his age and every house is different.  Some smoke in the house, some curse, (I'm speaking of the kids) some clean the garage every weekend, some mow the lawn, some sneak out, some have been arrested, and I can't tell you how many moms call asking if their kid is at my house because they can't find theirs...

Parents leaving behind microwave pizza rolls and ravioli in a can.  Working all day then having drinks with friends after.  Smoking in the house.  Buying whatever the kids ask for whether they've earned it or deserve it.

There's two sides:  the moms going on job interviews with their kids and the moms that became their mom despite their efforts.

I'm stuck in the middle and I feel helpless.  When did we stop being the Dynamic Duo?  We were always close and I have always been understanding of his wants and needs, giving him the freedom to do as he pleased as long as he remained respectful.  So I guess we're going to give him a dose of reality and I'll treat him like his friends get treated and we'll see how he feels about that.  Something tells me, despite all, he'll be begging for homemade brownies and my help before too long.

I hated my mother, but I'm about to become her.

No comments:

Post a Comment

My Zimbio
Top Stories