Monday, 6 July 2009

Summer Nights=New Stressors

I have found myself at this wonderful confluence of wisdom of the war torn at MMM. At some point I will count how many teens we all have, or have had, hormone raging under our roofs (not menopausal hormones, that is).

I'm Sink (Yes, people really call me Sink in real life.) My husband and I have 8 kids, 13, 13, 15, 15, 17, 21, 23 and 25 years old. I am a high school teacher -- I need to practice my sarcasm somewhere -- and my husband is a private practice therapist -- which I must admit comes in handy. We often say that we know just enough to really mess things up.

Happy to share my perspective on this teen raising thing...I tend to tackle things by making lists...lots and lots of lists...So here's one that I wrote late one night as I was waiting for my 17 year old to finally come in the door after an evening out with friends:

What I want my teenagers to learn as they reach the going-out-at-night-with-friends age:

1. Be respectful and considerate of people who worry about you.

Right now it is your parents who worry, but it won't always be parents. It might be college roommates, or eventually a partner or a spouse. There will always be someone worrying about you. Think about their worries. Practice and learn how to be considerate now - while we're around to teach you.

2. Stop, and think for yourself.

Ah, just because friend 1 and friend 2 (not all that different from Thing 1 and Thing 2)say, "Let's drive to the movie theatre that is 35 miles away along a interstate highway because the seats are more comfortable" doesn't mean that you need to agree that it is a good idea. Stop, and think -- Is this really a good idea? What time will I get home? Will my mom be worried about me? (See #1.)

3. Be responsible.

Making safe choices is something we all need to learn. Right now the decision is, "Should I get in the car with 4 other boys for a long, fast ride in the dark with a boy who has only had his license for 6 months?" You may have to think about other safety issues in the not-so-distant future: Should I get into the car with a driver who has been drinking? Should I drive after I have 3 drinks? Eventually responsible decisions affect people who depend upon you....people who share your worries.

All in all, the whole idea about this parenting thing through your teenage years is:

How can I, as your mother, help you to learn how to be a respectful, considerate, responsible and happy adult.

That's all it is. I'm just trying to teach you. Your job is to be willing to learn.

Posted originally at A Bigger Cup


  1. ah sink how appropriate a post!WHen l came home from work on friday expecting daughter 17 to be there, LArry informed me she was out with a pal. Who had come to collect her in a car. He had passed that morning! Appalled. I rang her, trying to keep a calm quiet voice instead of the shrill ever higher stress alarm she usually hears. And I was recieived with glib its ok mum.....

    OH but it is NOT, it really is NOT! Their choices shock, and scare me!Help..
    With 17 being the age they can do almost anything but vote or get a mortgage....what else can I do but express my concern and ask that she not do certain things. Re rage to a bull!!

  2. Good one, Sink! The only time I have absolutely forbidden Junior (when he was a teenager) to do something was when I found out he intended to go in a car with a friend who hadn't got his licence yet. I pointed out all the consequences - no insurance, lack of experience, etc, etc. I then told the 'friend' what I thought of his stupidity as well. The end result was Junior had the sense not to go (and friend's mother hasn't spoken to me since - no great loss.)

  3. I can only sit here and marvel. As Sazzie wrote yesterday, it was all so different for us.We had to contend with the Permissive society in it's infancy, but by the time it was fully grown ,mes enfants were grown and gone. There were nor many teens who could afford cars. Guess we had it a lot easier.
    Your rules make a lot of sense and certainly are not too all boils down to common sense and thought for others.

  4. I am starting to experience the car thing, although girls tend to be a little less racey (in a car sense) than boys. And it also helps that in Illinois at least, they can't have more than one other teenager in the car for the first year, or something like that.
    What I did hear about this weekend was that you can be prosecuted for "enabling" someone else to drive while under the influence/over the limit. That was a bit of a wake up for me I have to say. I'm not even sure many people know that.

  5. Sink, you have my sympathies - You are a true wonder-mum, and you must have the patience of a Saint...

    I am writing later this week about the fact that my son has his Driving Theory Test later this week, and then he'll be taking his test proper, and will want insurance and use of the car, etc, etc, etc... I am sooo scared, and that's putting it mildly!

    A great post, dear Sink! x

  6. It feels so good to be in this together. You all are too good.

    Evolution of Letting Go:
    1) in utero
    2) in bassinet
    3) in walker
    4) toddling
    5) running
    6) kindergarten
    7) summer camp
    8) high school
    9) driving
    10) off to college
    11) "independent" living
    12) home again if you are junior

  7. Sink, I remember this one. (I think - kinda hope, otherwise I'm going nuts) Simple, good and easy to follow rules that will go a long way!