Parenting

Coping with Our Children’s Mistakes

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**Warning: rant ahead. Proceed at your own risk. 🙂

You tell your kids not to smoke; it’s nasty, it’ll give them lung cancer, it’s expensive and will make their breath and clothes smell like an ashtray. You don’t smoke yourself.

They take up smoking anyway.

You lecture your kids on the dangers of drugs. It’s addictive. It can ruin their lives. It can change their personalities.

They do drugs anyway.

You tell your kids that abstinence is best, to wait until they are married before having sex. You tell them that waiting is the right thing to do and that it’s God’s will for them to wait until marriage before taking the plunge.

And they have sex anyway. And then they either get a girl pregnant or come home pregnant.

As the parent, is that somehow your fault? You’ve educated your children. You’ve made sure they were armed with intelligent information so that when the time came, and it will, don’t fool yourselves, that they have to make a choice, and they make the “wrong” choice, did you fail them as a parent? Should you be the one to accept the responsibility for their actions?

You can only hope and pray that they make the right decision when you’re not around. You can’t watch them 24/7. ESPECIALLY when they become teenagers, or start driving, or dating, or stuck at a party where they are doing illegal things.

How is that the parents’ fault?

I don’t discuss politics on this blog, mainly because I’m simply not articulate enough to discuss them on an intelligent level – there are so many blogs out there that do a much better job than I do. But when I read, on some other blogs today, the judgmental, hypocritical attitudes about Sarah Palin’s daughter, well, it got my blood boiling.

There comes a point in your life, as a parent, when you no longer have the luxury of making your children’s decisions. They reach a point in their lives, where they must make their own decisions and suffer the consequences of those decisions. Our jobs, as parents, is to make sure they are well equipped with information before they reach that step in their lives. And IF they make a bad choice, or they make an unintentional mistake, it’s our jobs as parents to be supportive and walk them through that bad choice. NOT clean it up for them, but be there if they need us.

And teenagers are still kids, albeit big ones, they will need us.

The self-righteous lectures about how Mrs. Palin is being hypocritical by standing up and preaching abstinence when her daughter is pregnant is unrealistic. As parents, we can preach our morals and beliefs until we’re blue in the face – that does not mean our children will heed our lectures.

I just don’t understand the logic behind the controversy – do you WANT Palin to stand up and say, “Oh well, since my daughter is now pregnant it’s rather stupid of me to preach abstinence to every other American teenager so you know, go for it.” That makes no sense whatsoever.

If anything, it shows people that Palin has a life outside of politics. Is it imperfect? Of course. Is she dealing with her daughter’s bad decision with grace? Absolutely. They are going to take care of the baby. Which in my eyes means they are taking responsibility and are putting that innocent baby first.

AND, if anything else, it also proves that if, and or when, Palin gets into the White House, she’ll be even more sympathetic to young girls who find themselves in the same situation and perhaps that will goad her into backing programs that help these young girls.

Sure, we would PREFER if our kids didn’t have kids, but let’s be real folks, stuff happens. They made a bad choice and now what? We stand by and shake our fingers at them? That’s not what they need, they need our support and to help them make the decision that is right for their lives.

And thank God we still have choices in this country.

I don’t know when people are going to start accepting the fact that these politicians? Have lives outside of politics. And they’re human, they have and will continue to lead flawed lives.

Do we expect them to lead a better-than-most-life to set an example? Of course. When you’re in the public eye, you SHOULD lead your life by example. But look at actors – you think THEY’RE perfect? People in the public eye have money and power – life is full of temptations as is, can you imagine how tempting it would be to make a bad decision with money and power to back it up?

We’re human. We make mistakes. When are we going to stop judging other people for those mistakes?

If my son gets into drugs, does that make me a bad mom? No, it makes me the mom of a troubled teen. My son was persuaded to step over that dark line, despite our talks about the evils of drugs, now it’s my job to help him step back into a healthy life. Would I be hurt and disappointed by his decision? Of course. But the situation isn’t about me, it’s about my son. Would I then start preaching to other kids that it’s okay to do drugs because my son made a bad choice and is now doing drugs just so I don’t appear hypocritical?

Do you see how asinine that argument is?

Please stop being so judgmental and let’s look at the bigger picture here. Let’s support our young people and concentrate on making sure they have all of the information they need to begin with so they will HOPEFULLY make the right decision WHEN (and don’t fool yourself, the time will come) that happens.

And by the way, I’d feel this way if it was the Obama family. This issue isn’t about whose side of the political fence you’re on, it’s about taking responsibility, standing up for what you believe is right and it’s about helping a young girl who made a mistake and didn’t heed her parents wishes.

Sidenote: My opinion for Senator Obama just went up about five notches. Here’s what he said about the Palin pregnancy “scandal”:

“Let me be as clear as possible,” Obama said. “I think people’s families are off-limits, and people’s children are especially off-limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin’s performance as governor or her potential performance as a vice president.”

Obama said reporters should “back off these kinds of stories” and noted that he was born to an 18-year-old mother.

“How a family deals with issues and teenage children, that shouldn’t be the topic of our politics, and I hope that anybody who is supporting me understands that’s off-limits.”

Bravo Senator, bravo.

Okay sorry. Rant is over.

Life

Let’s Talk About Men

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Now that’s a loaded title, don’t you think? I can’t claim to KNOW men, but I can claim to UNDERSTAND men – at least, on an elemental level.

I’ve never had very many girlfriends. And this was a conscious decision on my part. Women … irritate me. I can’t handle all of the emotional crap that women put themselves through on a daily basis. I mean, sure, I have emotions too, but I honestly try not to take my emotions out on those around me. (Unless of course that emotion has anything to DO with that person and then watch out, mister).

But I have days when I’m feeling snarky … just because. I could blame it on hormones, and I suppose that that’s true to an extent, but there are days I just feel cranky and everything sets me off. I feel it, I recognize it and I tell my guys, “Hey. I am feeling on edge today so please, don’t push my buttons.” Of course, if they elect to push my buttons *cough*GD*cough*, then they deserve what they get, no?

I’ve learned over the years, and through many, many ugly moments (like nearly getting fired), that it’s not fair to take my bad moods out on those around me. Whether that’s family, friends, co-workers or stupid drivers. It’s MY problem and I’LL deal with it.

I recognize this irrational behavior in myself and it irritates the ever loving crap out of me when I’m around women who DON’T recognize it. I just want to take them by the shoulders, shake them until their teeth rattle and snarl into their face, “Get a hold of yourself, woman!”

Apparently, I have anger issues as well. But that’s another post.

So, I’ve always been one of those females who got along better with the guys than with the girls. Guys are so … different. They’re simple and mellow. They don’t play head games and though they may not tell you how they feel, it’s not hard to figure it out because, well, they’re simple.

And I’m not saying that in a disparaging way, that’s just the way they are programmed.

I knew all of this on a fundamental level growing up but it wasn’t until I took some communication classes in college (not that those classes taught me anything about the opposite sex but rather taught me HOW to communicate on a non-threatening level – which, incidentally, I think everyone should learn), and listened to Dr. Laura that I truly began to understand how men tick.

They are “do” creatures. They are natural problem solvers. So when we feel like whining or just blowing off steam, they feel helpless because they feel a need to “fix” whatever it is that’s bothering us, unless we tell them otherwise. (“I just need to vent. You don’t need to do anything, just listen to me for five minutes, okay?”)

I think taking the initiative to learn more about men has helped my relationship with my husband. I “get” him. I do. I understand his thought process and I have learned, over the years, what irritates him and what pleases him. I can even tell what he’s thinking by his facial expressions and how he’s going to react by his body language. HOW did I learn all of this?

By paying attention.

I think women are so self-centered nowadays. It’s all about how SHE feels, or how SHE deals with things. It’s a selfish attitude and one that I think gets women into trouble – a lot.

Look. I realize women have it harder. We are responsible for so many things on both a physical and emotional level. I get that. I live that. But we’re not the tougher sex for no reason – it’s because we can handle it. And we can handle our relationships better if we know where the men are coming from.

It really is true that all we have to do is bat our eyelashes and act all slutty flirty to get our men to do what we want. Take it or lump it, that’s just the way it is.

But they’re also human beings with feelings and they don’t like being treated as if they are stupid or inadequate any less than we do. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been out shopping and witnessed a woman berating her husband and generally treating him like a child with little to no brain in front of a crowd of people. Poor guy. Perhaps he does deserve to be berated, men aren’t perfect and they can certainly be jerks at times, but NO ONE deserves to be publicly humiliated. If you are honestly having trouble communicating with your spouse, then seek counseling, not a public audience.

How is bursting his eardrum going to help the situation?

And yes, of course I’ve done it. I think all women lose their cool with their boyfriends/husbands out in public at one time or another. It’s frustrating to get them to focus sometimes. But the few times I’ve raised my voice or made angry gestures at my husband in public … well, I paid for it later. He let me know, in no uncertain terms (after we were alone) that he WOULD NOT tolerate being treated like that. Period. And when I stepped back from the situation and looked at it from his point of view, I was ashamed of myself.

No human being should ever be treated like that. He deserves so much better than my bitchy attitude. And I learned a lot about myself after those episodes, too.

Even though I can claim to know my husband, I can’t claim to know all men. Other men have different personalities, different backgrounds, and different emotional issues. And as a result of not knowing these things, I actively pursue the knowledge. I read a ton of relationship articles online. I enjoy reading “men’s” magazines and reading advice columns for men. A lot of times, I’m surprised by the sheer simplicity of the questions and answers – it seems so obvious to us women, but not to these poor guys. They aren’t good at “assuming” things – a lot of times it’s either black or white with them.

They don’t DO the whole reading between the lines thing like we can.

I also read Letter’s from Johns. In addition, I read blogs by prostitutes, too. Not for the sleaze factor (though that can be debatable depending on your definition of sleaze), but because I’m truly curious to know WHY men feel compelled to cheat. And I’m truly curious to know WHY women choose to be prostitutes.

The rationale, or reasons, for doing what they do is just fascinating to me. Sometimes, I find myself rolling my eyes and thinking, “that’s just an excuse to get out of DEALING with [insert issue here].” But other times, I can see where they are coming from. And reading these perspectives helps me for two reasons:

1. It shows me what NOT to do in my own relationship – so, in essence, I learn from their experiences.

2. It gives me an inside look at human nature. Which, in turn, will help me write better stories.

I hope.

Now before any of you think I approve of men seeking prostitutes or that I think it’s okay for women to turn tricks, I don’t. But it’s reality. And for the most part, it makes me feel sorry for these people who have, for whatever reasons, decided to turn down this path. They’re all seeking something … something they aren’t receiving in their “real” lives. There’s an element missing from their lives and I find that incredibly sad. What a terrible way to live – to feel incomplete in some way and desperate enough to try and find it down this particular dark alley.

So yes, I read about the darker sides of relationships. I do it to learn and observe the male species.

And I’ve learned A LOT.