Childrearing Quandary

My youngest is 15 and very young for his age, but he hangs out with kids his own age at school.  He tells me things, which is great.  Recently he went to a little gathering at his girlfriend’s house.  Girlfriend has lots of siblings (6, I think).  While mom was out and dad was on watch, the gathering (two couples) hung out in girlfriend’s bed room.  Apparently there was some “making out” going on, which offended my boy’s sensibilities (the smacking noises grossed him out).  We’ve never allowed our kids to hang out in their bedrooms in mixed company.  One of those rules I grew up with that seems to have stuck.

He just got invited to another gathering where there will be boys and girls.   I ran into the mom hosting this latest deal in the school atrium and found out that she wasn’t planning on being home while the kids are over.  Yikes… Call me counter-culture, call me old fashioned, but we have a rule about parties where no parents are present.  Not allowed.  Maybe one well-trusted friend, but no way a mixed group.

The mom was nonplussed when I neglected to control my face.  “Is that a problem? I trust my kid. He’s a good boy.”  When I explained that the last get-together involved make-out sessions in the girl’s bedroom she was shocked.  “Who was making out? Not John.  Was it Sam? John? Who was making out?”  It was her own dear sweet John, by the way.  Plus his girlfriend and my own little sweetie and his girlfriend.  His mom was shocked. I didn’t say who was smooching, just that I knew it had happened.  She was shocked that any of them were smooching, but absolutely positive it wasn’t her son.  “Well I can’t be there, but I trust these kids, they’re good kids…”

They are good kids.  They are.  But her little darling  is sprouting a beard and was hospitalized two weeks ago for cutting himself.  He isn’t a bad kid, but he also isn’t a good candidate for self supervision if you ask me.  But what can I do?  I called mom again to talk about the situation and she reiterated that she understood if we had that rule, and I probably knew my kid needed that kind of supervision, but both her kids are really good and she trusts them. What is that? What causes a mom to say over and over how much she trusts her kids?

We’re going to pick up our kid early, but he’s pretty bent out of shape about it. We talked about it being just a standing rule and one that I’m not too flexible on.  He had two questions for me which I didn’t have a good answer for.  The first one I didn’t  touch, but I blame that other mom for planting the idea in his head. “Mom, you don’t trust me, do you? Don’t you trust me?”

The second question was a little more difficult for me to answer because of all the answers that came into my head at once.  It was this:  “Mom, so when am I supposed to make out? When do we do that?  Are we supposed to never make out?”  This was little more dicey.  Here are the things I thought of initially:

  • Some time after you’ve hit puberty
  • When you take a walk
  • When you’re watching a movie in the theater
  • When you say you’re doing something else
  • After one of you can drive
  • After you figure out how to do it without your mom knowing

The uncomfortable truth is this: it seems to me like kids and parents are supposed to be in a sort of cat and mouse game about sexual behavior.  They’re supposed to try to kiss and neck and do all sorts of stuff that we are supposed to try to prevent.   By them trying to do it and us trying to stop it, there gets to be a sort of balance.  They still engage in behavior we don’t approve of, but we slow it down by being vigilant. I can’t tell him that, can I?  Eww.

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3 thoughts on “Childrearing Quandary

  1. emily says:

    hoo boy. that’s a good one all right. i’m not qualified to offer any more comment.

  2. Maggie says:

    What an interesting question. As one who benefited strongly from your position of not allowing mixed company hanging out in bedrooms, I think your rules are right on. I’ve had to remind myself many times that it’s my job to be the mom, and that often requires that I give up the idea that my kid will think I’m cool. In fact, they have thought of me as completely unreasonable at times, and I say the serenity prayer, tell them that I can see that they think I’m being unfair, and then move on. It’s been hard sometimes.

    As for your last paragraph, I think that there is a way that you can convey this, and maybe that’s the thing to do. Tell him that you know he will be doing things that you don’t want to know about, just as you probably did when you were his age. Now that you are in the other position of this little dance, you are just doing your part to maintain the equilibrium.

  3. BERN says:

    You are right. You are the parent and guide. Yup! The equilibrium thing is right. My kids tell me I told them I’d cut it off if they used it. I don’t remember. Mainly, I tried to generally give them direction such as to use protection and no matter what they did, they should be prepared for the consequences. And if they could not buy their own condoms, I’d do it for them. No one took me up on the offer. I do remember telling them that if they were not a virgin when they got married, they should not expect their girlfriend to be one.

    That mother has her head up her ass (if i could bold or italicize that, I would) or she’s one of the three monkeys – do, see, say nothing. There is damage caused by not being the parent; she (& her husband) have abdicated their responsibilities. I pray to God to save me from these people; I want to say, “PUH-Lease, open your eyes. Your kids are no different than others.” Specifically a child may be different in a few areas-smarter in math or English, prettier, more talented in guitar, dance, or something else but, in general, most kids are the same in most ways. (Learned from experience. Even 20 yrs ago, though, I’d have thought most of the above.) (And the kid is a cutter, in high school! And she thinks he’s so good & trustworthy! Cutters are experts at hiding evidence, her head is really up her ass.) I’m done.

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