Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Time for another episode of Judgy McJudgerson

I'm irritated. Not with my children, who have reluctantly been fairly well behaved, albeit not without comment. I'm annoyed with MommyBloggers and those that think they know better about how to run my household than I do. Only it isn't just my household, it's pretty much all of our households. Because these Judgy McJudgersons have a comment about every single blog they read, and guess what? The comments are always negative. How shocking! They're negative because Judgy and her legions read only what they want to into every single post. If someone, God forbid, uses sarcasm in their post, Judgy et el are immune to the joke. They read every word as literal, and they string together years of sarcasm to imply that the blog their are reading is a testimony to bad parenting.

The funny thing is, most of these people have no teenagers. They don't understand that raising a two-year old is VERY different (and yet sometimes so similar) to raising teens. They don't get that when your child is 6'2" and 210 lbs you can't grab his hand and redirect him to another activity. They don't understand that when you have a teen, they can and will do just about anything to keep you from learning what is REALLY going on in their lives. That they will hide things, embellish other things, and completely deny what is staring them right in the face. That's what parenting teens is about, and in my opinion, if your teen gets through high school without being arrested, totaling a car, or being abused, you've done a damn good job as a parent.

Parenting teens is different than it was when we were teens. With the advent of internet ready devices at their beck and call, they are much more savy to information that simply passed us by. They are in constant communication with each other, which means that they know much much more about the sordid side of life than we did as kids.

Imagine this, for example. Your kid gets a text message one evening. A kid has had a fight with a parent and took off. Kid has cell phone, and is texting around town trying to find a place to stay. Your kid gets message, offers a place to stay, and makes up a story for you, the parent. You check out the story the best you can, but you actually know nothing more than what you are told. You don't take in the kid, but you know where the kid is staying. The police call you wondering if you have the kid. You don't, but don't offer where the kid is staying because you know that kid has been beaten many many times by crazy father. You also know that crazy father is a crack addict. You've met crazy dad enough times to know that all that info is absolutely true.

This is not an unusual occurance when you have a teen. That actual story happened to us. It had NOTHING to do with our family, but because we were peripherally involved, we were on the teen texting hotline, and the fingers were flying.

If that same scenario had happened when I was a kid, the only communication device was the phone, and a runaway wouldn't use the phone because the parent of the kid he called would ALWAYS inform the kid's parent, and kid would be returned home to be beaten senseless.

Teenagers are exposed to much more than any other generation. They know intimately the inner workings of each other's families. They see the alcoholism, drug abuse, and insanity that goes on in their friend's homes. They carry around these burdens, making them terribly stressed and angry much of the time.

They come home to their own homes, where things are familiar, and when challanged to do something they don't want to do, they let their anger at the world explode out of them. That's what being a teen is about, carrying much more than you should and sometimes just being incapable of keeping all that angst inside.

That does not, not for one second, mean that the parent is a bad parent because the child has a tantrum. It means that the child is overloaded and overburdened and needs a release. As the parent of two teens, I've been unloaded upon countless times, and because I'm an adult that understands and empathizes what pressures teens are under, I'm smart enough to know that there honestly isn't much you can do but let them express their fury. It's not bad parenting, it's good parenting. It's what the experts recommend you do.

Teenagers will seek out ways to alleviate their anger. Some will drink, some will smoke pot, some will have sex with strangers. They act out. It's nothing new. You did it as a teen. And if you didn't, you were repressed by parents that didn't let you breathe on your own. Teenagers rebell. It isn't a new phenomenon, it's been going on forever.

Parents can put as many rules and regulations into effect as they want, but teenagers will learn to work around them. I sure did as a kid, and my kids try hard to do it today. They aren't as successful as I was because my parents were oblivious and I am not. There is nothing that my kids do that I don't eventually find out about. I do all of the things that experts say parents should do. I read their Facebook pages and if I see something I object to, I make them take it off immediately. If they don't, I close down their page. Ask my daughter. She no longer has a Facebook page.

I look at both their incoming and outgoing texts all the time. I monitor their computer use by keeping the computer right in the center of all activity in the house. I know what they're doing, I know who calls them on the house phone, and whom they are calling. I even know every number that calls their cell phones and will block numbers I don't know. Believe me when I say I'm WAY more involved than 99% of parents out there.

But, and this is a big one. I understand what being a teenager means, and if my kids do something I don't like, I institute draconiam punishments for their transgressions. They might not seem like big punishments to you, but for MY kids, losing their Ipods, phones, XBox controllers, and computer time are just about the end of the world.

And even with all this said, my kids screw up a lot, and I expect that of them. If they didn't, I'd be a lot more worried. When I was at the hospital the other day, the Boy brought over his friend who believes he lives with us, and they were smoking pot. I wasn't there. As soon as I got home I figured it out and sent the friend packing. He's not allowed over for a while. Other actions were deemed appropriate on our end. There were consequences.

What would YOU have done? Remember, pot is decriminalized in MA, friend is over 18 and it was his, it was less than one ounce in a private home, and there is no punishment for it. So what would you do other than to toss friend out? He's not a minor. His parents couldn't care less. The police would have done nothing. Is it all up to ME to provide punishment for both kids? I don't think it is.

I'm serious. I really want to know, from the Judgy McJudgersons that read me every day and then go off and make nasty comments about my parenting skills, calling me insane and much worse, what would you do? Do you HAVE teenagers? Are they larger than you are? Do you really believe that you could find better solutions for parenting kids almost out of high school and ready to go off on their own?

Because I honestly believe that these Judgys have no older kids, or that they make them up as convenient to prove their point that they are the worlds best parent and we should all bow down to them. Lies are transparent, and I've read enough of them to know when people are telling the truth vs embellishing them points with examples that do not ring true. Prove me wrong.

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Blogger Thumper said...

An 18 year old partakes of a legal activity in your home, which he likely knows would not be tolerated in your presence. Yes, you kick his sorry butt out and ban him for however long you wish, and your son gets whatever you feel is coming to him. Your house, your rules.

I don't have a problem with pot, not for someone of legal age. If it were my (of majority age) son and his friend, I'd ask that in the future they take it outside, so the smell isn't in the house. But when my son was a minor? Lose the cell phone, lose the car. No excuses.

But truthfully, I don't care if you catch your son and his friend playing Rock, Paper, Scissors. If your son KNOWS it's forbidden in your house and allows his friend to initiate a game, and you catch them at it... they get what's coming to them. Rules are rules, doesn't matter if the rest of the world disagrees.

7/2/09 5:43 PM  
Blogger Daisy said...

I don't think moms of little kiddos have a CLUE what's coming. Even "good" kids experiment, and even "good" parents end up getting the short end of the teen-adventure stick. To critique someone for raising their teens 9or their little ones) is simply wrong. Walk amile in our shoes, folks. My Aspie teen is a major challenge; anyone who call me a bad parent can stuff it, or worse.

7/2/09 7:38 PM  
Blogger Jenny Vee said...

my friends seem to have developed selective amnesia since having kids. the other day, one talked about getting new furniture when our girls (mine: ages 5 and 3; hers: age 3) are a little older. i said, "why? we've still got the beer bongs and bodily fluids era to get through." her response was to shriek and, literally, cover her ears.

another friend, whose daughter starts middle school next year, freaked out upon hearing some tales of teens and announced, "i only want to hear good things about middle school!" um, hello? it's MIDDLE SCHOOL. by definition it's going to suck out loud.

the world of mommy bloggers seems to be dominated by the "every stage is a blessing" head-cases and the "i write very funny stuff about life with little ones" gals. but - as i remind my husband when our girls are driving him nuts - in 10 years they won't want to be seen with us. so, thanks for being honest about what it's like with older kids.

7/2/09 7:39 PM  
Blogger Sherendipity said...

I have a 15 year old and a soon to be 17 year old.
I don't relate to many of the mommy bloggers out there.
You've got my attention. I'll be back to read more.

7/2/09 9:03 PM  
OpenID madgetastic said...

Thanks for this reasoned assessment of parenting adolescents. I want to print it out and save it for the next 15 years (I have little guys).

I simply do not understand judgy comments on personal blogs. Seriously? Do they really think you give a crap what they have to say? Also, sarcasm...? Please. It's not a new concept, people.

7/2/09 9:19 PM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

Well, of course we know that those who choose to judge parents of teenagers will have their comeuppance. But that's little comfort now, is it? I don't understand the judging. Because of there's one thing I've learned from parenting, it's that I really don't have a clue. Any body who says they do, is either lying, or deluded. We're all just winging it and doing our best.

Ignore the judgers. I get 'em every once in a while. When I wrote about talking about anal sex with my son, I got a deluge of anonymous email telling me that I should be teaching my children to abstain and remain pure for their spouse. Apparently some fundie group got wind of my post and got their collective panties in a bunch.

What these people want is the attention they so desperately crave. LOOK AT MEEEEEEEEEEE. They're no better than the precious, darling, perfect 4 year olds they parent in terms of maturity.

7/2/09 10:06 PM  
Blogger The Queen of All said...

Finally, I get to post a comment and not send you an email. One of the reasons I read your blog is to get your perspective on raising teenagers. I have to myself and it isn't easy. I'm not alone in raising our three kids. I have a husband but I do get the brunt(sp?) of parenting them and explaining to him why they do the things they do. These Mommybloggers don't have a clue as to what is coming. Not. One. Clue. It doesn't matter all the parenting books you read and how you raise your little ones to be responsible, caring, intelligent children. Teenagers will be teenagers and you were one too. Parents need to remember that before they go judging other parents.

7/2/09 10:47 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

My own kids are still young but I already live in fear of the teenage years - one of my greatest parenting fears is getting my comeuppance - by getting kids who are exactly like my husband and I were! I can barely stand to think about a lot of the crap I pulled, and truly suspect a major karmic kick in the ass is on its way.

That said, I'm not sure you're completely right about things being so much worse because of technology. They happened before, it was just easier to keep the parents out of the loop. No, the kicked out kid didn't necessarily use the phone, there were other ways. In my case I, and most other people I knew, left their cars unlocked every night because you never knew when B, who had a mean and abusive cop for a stepfather, might need a place to crash for the night. It wasn't unusual to go out in the morning and find him sleeping in your car. Stepdaddy didn't like having a burnout for a stepson and used to regularly toss him out. It did happen back then, it just didn't get texted.

8/2/09 2:07 AM  
Blogger Ranchmom said...

We have an adult and a couple teens at home. It is often a challenge, but overall they are all doing okay. It is way WAY different than parenting little kids. As you pointed out, if you have relied upon physically moving a child from Point A to Point B when they were little, it doesn't work anymore when they are as tall or taller than you are. I never "rebelled" as a teen; had no desire to, and I didn't do self-destructive things. So far the girls haven't either. I don't think it's because we are repressive, or that my parents were. My parents were really good parents, but my brother almost did entirely self-destruct. I think his learning problems greatly contributed to that - he felt frustrated and "stupid" all the time, even though he wasn't.

What I do know is that your kids know you love them and are there for them. Parents don't need to be "perfect" and none of us are going to parent exactly like another. I think the biggest things are the love, logical consequences for actions (you spend your time texting instead of studying, you lose your cell phone, for instance) and the consistency in parenting that lead to good outcomes for kids.

9/2/09 2:14 PM  
Blogger Flutterby said...

Oh my you are SO right about when they get older and at least as big as or bigger than you! Daughter, almost 16 now, decided she just did not want to go to school one day. Hub got pissed because I didn't *make her go*. Umm.. excuse me. Did *HE* stick around and try to *make her go*? Of course not. He went off to work but had no problem criticizing my handling of the situation. She's taller and bigger and stronger than me... it's not like she's still 3 years old and I can manhandle her into clothes and pick her up and strap her into the car etc etc... There were consequences of course, but at the time she didn't care that the main one was me not calling her in so all the work she missed resulted in zeros for grades. Loss of cell phone and computer for weeks as well. She was just recently diagnosed as bi-polar, is being medicated for it, and is back to being the sweet girl she *used to be*. But she's still bigger than me.

The ones who don't even HAVE kids piss me off the most. The ones with little ones who have no concept of what they will be like as teens... well... I just shake my head, sometimes laugh a little... and sit back and wait. Because their turn is coming.

9/2/09 2:50 PM  
Blogger Flutterby said...

And I have always thought it immensely unfair that the fact that *we* were once teens does not ever seem to give us any special insight as to how to raise our own!

9/2/09 2:52 PM  

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