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View Diary: Here is What We Told Our Daughter (240 comments)

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  •  Twig, (5+ / 0-)

    You are well-suited for parenting. My wife and I are about your age, and I have a 30 year old stepson, a son who is 18 and a daughter who is 16. One of the most useful rules I learned from my own parents was, "never criticize the parenting of another parent, especially when it is a relative." I live by that.  It never results in anything positive.

    Your daughter will, without fully realizing it, be like you. This means being intelligent, open-minded and tolerant. You are doing a good job.

    So stay on your course when the coming teens hit. I think it was the Calvin & Hobbes comic where the father observed that when he was a child, he thought his parents always knew what they were doing, and never realized that it was all ab-libbed.

    Here is what we are experiencing. Like you, we have a wonderful, open relationship with our daughter and son. We also know (my wife and I) that we were good kids too, and that we were going to do certain things, and experiment with certain substances, and that there was little any adult could do to stop it. I also remember some friends that had extremely controlling, restrictive parents, and it was obvious to me, even as an 18 year old, that those kids would just explode when they finally got out from under their parents. Plus, I was lucky. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew and respected my parents, and the cops were not out to ruin the lives of teenagers. I could have been in serious trouble several times, if not for some hunch on a cop's part, that I would grow out of my stupid, reckless behavior, and that there was no reason to criminalize me.

    I remain grateful for that, but the world is different now. Teenagers are often demonized and criminalized, and living in the city, I don't find as many incidents of cops looking at the long view and harm reduction.

    So questions present themselves that are very difficult. I regard pot as less harmful than alcohol. I know that kids are going to experiment with pot and alcohol, at the least. But I need to keep communicating, in trust, with my kids. Part of that is not telling my kids things about, say, pot, that they know is bullshit as much as I did at that age.

    I am not saying how my wife and I handle every issue. I am sure we make mistakes, perhaps major ones. Our kids have cellphones. I worry when they are out and don't answer a text or call. I know I'm not being told everything. So here is a question that parents might encounter; is it better to have your teenage daughter our with friends after school doing whatever, or perhaps might it be a better choice to understand that if some activities are inevitable, might it not be best to ensure that there is a safe environment, not overly invaded by parents, where the risks of arrest or contact with unsavory characters is eliminated?

    My wife was an experienced parent when we met. She taught me the greatest lesson in parenting that I know of to this day. When acting towards or reacting to your kids, how do you get what you want? Is the immediate response, perhaps in anger or worry going to get you what you want? Or perhaps if you stop and think, are you more likely to get what you want?

    I hope this doesn't come across as a lecture. I appreciated your post greatly, and you are an engaged, thoughtful parent who is more wise than the vast majority of parents I have encountered. Your daughter will, no doubt, take the world by storm!

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