How to Parent a Budding Adult

Last Friday I posted something about my most recent frustration with my oldest.  Jake  skipped his mandatory advanced placement biology exam. When he got home, he met my wrath, which resulted in my giving him the silent treatment for the rest of the weekend.
But, as the eternal optimist, I do believe these moments allow relationships to become 10x stronger than they were before.
By Sunday, we finally sat down to talk, and the conversation was straightforward and simple.  We were both visibly upset—at ourselves and at each other. I lamented that I felt I had babied him his entire life, which resulted in his not being able to do for himself at anything – not even sitting for a damn exam.  He admitted he hated my pushing him constantly to do things he didn’t/doesn’t want to do.
I told him welcome to real life; we sometimes do things we don’t want to, because it helps us later. Overcoming difficult – or challenging experiences is the fuel for more trying times, and the strength to persevere.   And the trying times are always going to be there.
But that’s the boring stuff.
What came next was the icing on the cake—the crowning jewel on my ever developing relationship with a child that is really no longer a child anymore—but just about an adult.
At the end of our discussion he said: I’m really sorry I disappointed you.
And I blurted: I’m glad you did.
I paused for moment before finishing, because I wasn’t sure if that was the right thing to say at first.
I’m glad you did. Because believe it or not, it is your job at this point in your life to disappoint me. Just like it’s my job to let you down, or watch you struggle. That is life. I have to push you, you have to push back. This is how the world works.
It all seemed so simple, and suddenly what happened Friday felt not only unavoidable but absolutely necessary. I’m always discovering and rediscovering different parts of parenting with him—likely because he’s my oldest. I had him when I was so young, at 22 years old—when the rest of my friends were still going to frat parties and scoring internships. We were both inexperienced and I’ve always cringed at the fact that I am learning how to parent using Jake as an example. I’ve made all the mistakes on him. So, the first kid should be disposable? I’m not so sure, because I wouldn’t ask for a do-over on any of these experiences, tough as they are.
So-Called Mom
So then, it’s fair to say we’ve been learning along side each other for almost two decades. Which means the Biology blunder on Friday was a part of his growing up. And that it’s possible that the sting I felt was really just my own growing pains in letting go.
Still Learning,
So-Called Mom

WTF: Teenagers & Responsibility

ARG!!!!!! I’m SO MAD!

I can’t even type right now.

Motherhood is a challenge at all angles. But the biggest challenge is in not wanting to DESTROY your children when they pull one over on you–or WORSE: Their teachers.

DAMMIT! Click on the link to watch this go down…and I have a FEELING, this is only the beginning.

Like, comment and subscribe, Help a mother out.

 

So-Called Mom

 

When your Teenage Son Needs a Makeover

It’s been awhile since I first posted that the kids were going for so called make-overs.  As could have been anticipated, the girls new hair styles were a great success all around.  Em and Milla enthusiastically embraced the new looks, and everything that went with a grown up hair salon.

 

Win #1

Win #2

Win #3

Jake, on the other hand, was a pain in the ass.  In retrospect, I don’t know why I’m surprised.  What, 17 year old boy wants to go to a ladies salon to get their hair cut?  I know  it’s his “job” to resist, but jesus, I put a lot of planning and money into getting everyone to clean up their acts. The girls jumped at the chance, but not Jake.

The stylist didn’t help matters when she responded to my carefully curated photos of hairstyles: Oh, that’s too feminine. Let’s not have another Justin Bieber on our hands. 
I thought Jake was going to bust out of there then and there. His face turned beet red, and he was so uncomfortable he wouldn’t even look at me. When she was done cutting ONLY AN INCH AND A HALF OFF, Jake put his hat on and sullenly sat in the lobby until his newly styled sisters asked, did you do anything at all? Now granted, it might have had something to do with being a teenage boy in a mostly women’s hair salon, but regardless, it seemed slightly over the top.  He even refused to take a group photo with us.
Mom side note:  His pediatrician didn’t help matters when just days ago he told me (again helpfully shared in front of him):  Mom, hands off. If he wants to stink, let him stink. Let him wear what he wants, let him have his hair how he wants. His friends will tell him if it’s not cool enough. 
REALLY?  This is the wisdom of the experts?  Is this the modern version of Let Them Fail?  I think we’ve lost our minds.  Would his friends really tell him? More importantly,  if this is the look, is he hanging with the right crowd?
For this mom, the frustrating thing is he’s a good looking kid. But Jake’s years of self neglect has turned his hair into a long, stringy mop that he covers up with a trucker hat. It’s no wonder that some kid from school has called him a school shooter the other day.
So taking matters into my own hands, I forced him to return to the women’s salon, fully aware that one of two things could happen:  I take charge, insist on the cut and have him hate me and complain to his pediatrician next time—Or, all of the above, AND he hates me now, but thanks me later.

I’m not like this usually, but I’m glad I called the salon and scheduled the redo right on the heels of yesterdays mess-up. If any more time had passed, I’m sure I would’ve let it slide. The bonus? We got to spend a few extra hours hanging out and having a sort of inadvertent mom/son time together. And we realized on the spot that neither of us could remember the last time we just hung out, just the two of us.

Now that I’ve taken a stand, I wonder if it would be overkill to call the pediatrician and let her know how uncool it was to undermine me in front of the kid. I think the connection between the oldest kid and mom is an essential one. If that gets unraveled, the rest of the kids would follow suit, and I can’t have that happening. Jake is a year away from being an adult and on his own. I need us to cross the finish line together.

Power Trippin,

So Called Mom

How to Makeover Your Teens

I’m a believer that when you look good, you feel good. And looking good involves a good hair style and make-up. It may not be the most ardently feminist position I could take, but it’s always worked for me.  (frankly, this is not just for girls, but the teenage boy seems to be more generally resistant).  And looking good doesn’t have to mean looking like everyone else or that you have to be classically beautiful.  In fact, it shouldn’t. Sure, that girl is pretty. But how about you? There is no need to look like anyone else, as that look is already taken. I believe you can be yourself and still be fabulous.

Hence, the make-over lesson.  Which in my definition means more than just a hair and clothes overhaul, but also self-care which starts with skin and make-up.  One thing you can be sure of, if you don’t teach this stuff, the internet will.  And that usually doesn’t end well, with some pretty caked on versions of so-called contouring.

So far it looks like only one of my four girls is ready to start this conversation, even though technically Milla and Em are the same age. Milla has already decided, I look good enough without makeup, thanks anyway.  And she may forever be that person, content with who she is.  The other two girls are still too young.

But Em and I are going to play.  (added value is a great bonding opportunity!)

Next up:  A Good Haircut and Shopping Spree!

Your Sophisticated Lady,

So-Called Mom

Why You Should Monitor Your Teens Devices

Time for an update on the whole Internet Predator/Milla Debacle.

 

I can’t believe it, but Milla is already showing drastic improvement; and it’s been only a week since we discovered the issue. I was convinced Milla was traumatized beyond repair and that she would need several therapy sessions to help her process what happened. But literally pulling the plug on screen use has proven to be worth it’s weight in gold. The bulk of the issue was too much freedom—too much running wild, completely unleashed in the internet jungle. And so reeling it in has just about resolved the problem on it’s own.

She’s like a whole new kid.

And it feels like she’s happier than before. She has a sense of humor, is less irritable and even comes to check in with me throughout the day and night, wherever I am in the house. I love this!

Of course counseling will still be in the picture—I believe in giving all of my kids an opportunity to seek help with a professional—and having complete confidentiality. They can pour their hearts out one session at a time and gain an understanding about themselves in a way that I cannot teach. Milla will be able to learn some meaningful tools to help her cope in a busy world—with someone she trusts. I only wish I stepped in sooner to offer this.

I’ve also been policing her viewing history as I religiously collect both her iPhone and iPad every evening. She knows I look through it—the transparency has us trusting each other more. And she agrees that the freedom she has is enough and understands the freedom she had before was far too much. I should’ve been doing this from day one, but I’m glad I have a much better understanding now.

I randomly told the story to my doctor yesterday and she said that another patient of hers confessed to learning how to cut herself online—simply from being exposed to it as an option for self expression or anxiety relief.

We have to protect our kids better than this, I said.

Kids are so impressionable. Too much independence could easily yield a dangerous situation. When they become teens, everything rides on that edge of you can’t tell me what to do, you really don’t know anything at all. They seek other meaning—oftentimes opposite what you have told them. But this doesn’t mean Milla doesn’t need me anymore—it means she needs me now more than ever. I have come to understand this sort of backwards rationale.

Even though there is nothing more precious to me than my kids’ innocence and security, this So Called Mom has also been careless with it. I see it clearly now that Milla has directly experienced my lackadaisical approach to the online world. Consequently, ignorance is not bliss— it’s hazardous. Parenting teens means patrolling them too. Especially with their online usage—otherwise it’s all out of sight, out of mind.

If something is amiss, we need to ask ourselves, what is it they are not getting and how do I fulfill that need? 

I understand this is a challenge—all moms are busy. There’s a lot that is demanded of us these days. But we need to engage, to stay involved and lean into it. Because what we don’t know will hurt us. We need to see the apps they have, the profiles they’re creating, the viewing history. We need to ultimately talk about the scary world they are navigating, and talk about it often. Even if we are afraid of what we’ll find, we need to stay connected and stay close by.

Surveillance on High,

So Called Mom