Life, Parenting

Giving Up Before He Even Gets Started

I had an interesting conversation with Dude this morning.

Actually. It started with an explosion. Most of our conversations start with an explosion between me and Dude. We both have tempers and all it takes is a spark to ignite those tempers and *BOOM*, off we go.

I had to unplug the Internet because he was throwing a fit about losing a game and that was the only way I could bring him back to reality.

Whenever he loses a game, he has a meltdown. He starts cursing and generally being an asshole. His reaction alarms me, actually. He gets SO upset whenever he loses a game.

A game. Something that doesn’t mean squat in the big picture.

I was waiting for my hair to dry so I could style it this morning when I heard him cursing in his room. Our internet connection was slow and it was making his game laggy.

Finally, I couldn’t handle it anymore and I unplugged the ‘net thinking that would calm him down.

It only made it worse. He was worried that since he abruptly disappeared and he was losing at the time, the game administrators would think he was bailing instead of sticking around and taking the loss on his record and ban him from the game.


But his reaction was really over the top.

When I asked him WHY he gets so upset over games, he said that it was because losing meant failing and when he failed at the ONLY THING HE WAS GOOD AT IN LIFE, it made him feel worse.

It hurts my heart whenever he talks like this. Honestly. I feel physically wounded whenever he talks about feeling like a failure.

Another example was yesterday in the office. I was asking him about his dream job. If he could do anything in the world, what would it be?

Instead of answering, he just shrugged and said, “what does it matter? It’ll never happen anyway. I’m not smart enough to get my dream job.”

*STAB* Seriously. It was if someone had stabbed me in the heart, it hurt THAT MUCH to hear him talking about himself like that.

So today, I “lectured” him. And not lectured in the traditional sense, but lectured him with the intention of showing him that he was completely wrong about himself. I didn’t yell at him. I kept my cool, but there were a few times I nearly broke down and cried. It really hurts my heart to see him so down on himself. He doesn’t have any confidence in himself, at all. He thinks he’s a loser and why should he try if he’s only going to fail?

I really don’t know why he feels this way. Maybe it’s because Kevin and I gave him everything he could possibly want in life, therefore, everything that he’s wanted has come easy for him and the thought of working for something, and possibly not succeeding, scares him. Maybe he’s jealous of his little brother, who is good at music and seems to already have an idea of what he wants to do with his life after he graduates. Maybe it’s because he hasn’t really “discovered” his talents yet and this is largely due to the fact that he hasn’t TRIED anything yet.

And yes, I told him that.

Dude talks as if he’s an 80-year old man looking back on his life and being supremely disappointed in himself.

He’s 18 years old!! He’s still just a kid in every way but physically. He hasn’t even gotten out there yet to see what he’s made of. He can’t be a failure because he hasn’t TRIED to do anything yet!

He’s given up before he has gotten started.

And yes, I told him all of that.

He’s such a WONDERFUL HUMAN BEING. And I’m not just saying that because he’s my son, but because it’s TRUE. He’s kind, gentle and so much smarter than he gives himself credit for, both in personality and abilities. He has so much to offer the world and one day the world will realize it and appreciate him.

Yes. I told him all of that.

I also told him that Kevin and I have always done everything for him because we love him. That we will always love him through all of his successes and failures. That there was nothing he could do, or not do, that would ever change the fact that we loved him. Dude expects to never fail in life and when that happens, he just gives up, thinking he’s a failure at everything. It’s mathematically impossible for a person to succeed in everything he/she does. Everyone fails at one point in his/her life. Some people fail more than others. But it’s what people DO with that failure that really defines them as a person.

If there’s one thing I really admire about Kevin is that he never gives up. Ever. Even when he probably should. He’s like a bulldog when it comes to some things and about 95% of the time, he conquers whatever the problem was. My next question is, how do I make Dude see this? How do I teach Dude not to give up on himself before he’s even gotten started? I realize that I probably can’t teach him these things, that he will likely have to go out into the big, bad world and learn these things for himself. But I’m hoping that by telling him these things now, and by making sure he understands that Kevin and I love him, unconditionally, that we’re here to help him but we can’t hand him his future, he’s going to have to want it, and work for it, that that will convince him to at least TRY to step out into the world and pursue whatever it is he wants to pursue.

In some ways, in a lot of ways, I’m SO GRATEFUL for this upcoming job. In addition to being excited to getting back out into the working world and making money again, I think it’s going to be really good for Dude. I won’t be around to lean on anymore. He won’t be able to gauge his emotions/moods/actions off of me anymore. He’ll be forced to stand on his own two feet because he doesn’t depend on Kevin like he depends on me. I catch Dude watching me all the time and often times, whether he’s aware of it or not, he mimics me in so many ways.

He’s always done this.

So I think my not being around might be the best thing for him. He’ll be FORCED to deal with things on his own. Mommy won’t be there to hold his hand or do things for him anymore. Even though I’ve tried NOT to do these things over the past several years, and I’ve made a lot of progress, still, I was there. And this is not to say that I won’t be there for him now that I’m working, but there will be large pockets of time I will be physically absent and he’ll have no choice but to do things on his own.

He doesn’t act this way with Kevin, so I’m not worried about him transferring all of these dependent feelings on to him. And I also think it’s a man thing – Dude just acts more like a man around Kevin.

I’m confident that Kevin will help him find a job without holding his hand while doing it. Having Dude come up to the office during the weekdays has been HUGELY successful. I can already tell a difference in Dude’s demeanor. He still has a long way to go, but I can see we’re making progress and I’m encouraged.

In addition to my absence being a good thing for Dude, I’ll be setting an example for him, too. I told him this morning that I was pretty nervous about starting my new job; he looked surprised by that admission. I often wonder if I can handle it, if I’ll do a good job, if my co-workers will like me, etc. But I refuse to give in to that fear, I refuse to allow that fear to control my life. I told him that everyone feels nervous starting something new, that that was normal. But if we gave into that fear, then we’d all be stuck at home in the fetal position sucking our thumbs.

Being nervous was part of growing up – it just comes with the territory.

So. We’ll see how this whole thing shakes out. I pray that he can get a job fairly soon and that it’s in an industry that he can enjoy and learn from. And who knows, maybe he can advance within that industry and do what he really wants to do, which is computers.

But he won’t KNOW if that’s even possible until he TRIES.

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be”

Can We Talk?, Parenting

Are People Being Too Sensitive About This Ad?

So this ad from Land’s End apparently has some mothers up-in-arms:

They say it’s too suggestive and provocative – the way the girls are standing, the way the boys are looking at each other as if to say, “hubba hubba.”

And I’m having a hard time … seeing it. Maybe I’m missing something, but other than the lollipop (which could be construed as suggestive given how the girl has it in her mouth, which, okay, I can buy that, I guess), what’s the big deal?

I have a bigger problem with the girls’ clothing more than the way they are standing. Do girls that age really need to wear clothing that short? (Don’t even get me started on shortie-shorts and mini-skirts that hardly cover the pubic bone). And given the way the girls are standing, doesn’t that length just make it look even more inappropriate?

But as far as the poses, I really don’t have a problem with it. It just looks to me like the girls are being sassy (actually, the girls look like they are giving each other fake “I’m being nice, only I’m not” smiles) and the boys look mischievous – like they’re plotting, telepathically, to take away their backpacks or something.

In other words, the boys are getting ready to torment the girls because they think they’re cute and that’s how boys show girls they like them at that age and the girls are trying to pretend they don’t notice the boys but are very aware of their presence, hence the flirty, cutesy poses.

Normal girl-boy interaction, in my opinion.

I just don’t see anything that outrageous about this picture that warrants contacting Land’s End and making a huge fuss about it.

Though after this mother (and perhaps others, I don’t know), complained, Land’s End did take the lollipop away and post this picture instead:

(That wasn’t good enough, I guess, because they’re still complaining).

Maybe I would think differently if I hadn’t just read about the sexualization of THIS 10-year old girl.

Now THAT, my friends, is clearly wrong. Making our children look like grown-ups and posing in revealing clothing and in provocative poses all to sell a magazine is CLEARLY wrong. When you compare the pictures from this article with the picture above, well, there’s really no comparison.

(Or maybe I’ve gotten so desensitized that I don’t even see it anymore. Lord, I hope not).

But I understand being sensitive to this issue because I completely agree, that as a whole, the fashion industry has been steadily working toward making it seem like it’s normal for kids to act more like adults, and to wear more revealing clothes at a younger age which is CLEARLY NOT ACCEPTABLE, on any level. And I agree, we need to stamp out this “trend” immediately. Our kids grow up way too fast today as it is, we certainly don’t need companies helping to speed up the process. (And that’s not even touching on how that affects our children when it comes to body issues, etc).

Then again, parents need to stop buying too-short-revealing-inappropriate clothing for their tweens, too. If no one buys the product, then they naturally go away. That’s how it works in business – no profits, no products.

Of course, it’s easy for me to say that because I don’t have girls and I have never had to deal with the whole trying to buy appropriate clothing for girls issue – maybe finding appropriate clothing for girls is harder than I think it is?

But that’s just my two cents, for what it’s worth.

What do you think?

Are people being too sensitive about this ad? Am I missing something?


I Over Parented My Child

So, I read this article the other day and I’ve been sort of obsessing about it ever since.

How to Land Your Kid in Therapy: Why the obsession with our kids’ happiness may be dooming them to unhappy adulthoods. A therapist and mother reports.

I know. Loaded title, right?

In essence, it talks about this therapist’s experience with a number of patients that she can’t quite figure out. After all, the point of her profession was to “’re-parent’” our patients, to provide a ‘corrective emotional experience’ in which they would unconsciously transfer their early feelings of injury onto us, so we could offer a different response, a more attuned and empathic one than they got in childhood.”

In other words, walk messed up clients through a crappy childhood and introduce them to normal.

Bad parents generally equals screwed up children.

I get that.

But what was interesting to this therapist about this latest batch of patients was that, they didn’t appear to have a problem with their parents.

These 20/30 somethings “suffered from depression and anxiety, had difficulty choosing or committing to a satisfying career path, struggled with relationships, and just generally felt a sense of emptiness or lack of purpose—yet they had little to quibble with about Mom or Dad.”

So what was the problem? Why weren’t they happy?

So this thearpist thought, “Was it possible these parents had done too much?”

Here I was, seeing the flesh-and-blood results of the kind of parenting that my peers and I were trying to practice with our own kids, precisely so that they wouldn’t end up on a therapist’s couch one day. We were running ourselves ragged in a herculean effort to do right by our kids—yet what seemed like grown-up versions of them were sitting in our offices, saying they felt empty, confused, and anxious. Back in graduate school, the clinical focus had always been on how the lack of parental attunement affects the child. It never occurred to any of us to ask, what if the parents are too attuned? What happens to those kids?

I often wonder if that is my problem. Did I do too much for Dude? (I’m not that worried about Jazz mainly because his personality is so much different than Dude’s). I was a good mom, not a great mom, but a pretty good mom. I think.

I hope.

But did I DO too much for the boy? Now that we’re at a point in his life where he must step away from mommy and do something on his own, he’s scared to death. I can see it in his body language and I can hear it in his voice whenever we discuss his future.

I’ve done SO much for the kid that now that it’s time for him to do something on his own, he simply doesn’t know how.

I did TOO MUCH. I was one of those parents who was simply there TOO MUCH.

I know this, and I take full responsibility for this. I’ve even apologized to Dude for this. I just wanted to make things easy for him, and I did make things easy for him, TOO MUCH. The boy really has never endured a hardship his entire life and by wanting everything for him, I robbed him of the one thing he really needs to be successful in life: initiative.

I’m afraid Dude feels “empty, confused and anxious” because I’ve not allowed him to fight for things growing up and now that I’m no longer willing to hold his hand through this next transition, he’s feeling lost and scared.

I’m feeling all sorts of guilty here. My mom warned me that I was doing too much for him years ago, and though I heard her, and I agreed with her, I couldn’t seem to help myself. Now, I’m afraid we’re both paying the price of my hovering.

It’s time for Dude to grow up and get a job. But I find that I can not allow myself to get involved in this process. I don’t want him to look back on this time period and accuse me of choosing his career for him. He needs to make these decisions on his own. And because I’ve always made Dude’s decisions for him, he’s floundering. Because of me.

I’ve talked to Kevin about this and I’ve done the unthinkable – I’ve handed the reins of control over to him. Whenever I’m frustrated with a situation, I tend to get angry. My voice raises because I’m annoyed and whenever I’m like that, Dude shuts down. He withdrawals into a safe little corner and waits out the storm. So I know, me trying to help him get a job and move on with his life is just not the best thing for him.

He needs his father. He needs a man to help him step out into the big, bad world and be a man. He needs a man to teach him the importance of doing something with his life, of pursuing a career and making enough money to possibly one day support a wife and children.

I sort of feel like my job is done. I sustained him the first 18 years, I saw him through high school, now it’s time for Kevin to step in and steer him onto a different course. I mean, I’ll always be his mama. I’ll always be here for him if he needs me. But right now, I think he needs his father’s guidance more than mine.

And you know what? I’m okay with that. I’m READY to let go of him. I’m READY for him to get a job, save up some money and move out on his own. I’m even looking forward to the day he moves and I can help him set up his own apartment. (See? There I go again, trying to make things easy for him. I guess I’ll help him if he WANTS my help).

Kevin made Dude list ten places he might possibly like to work. (He actually listed 12, and no, I didn’t look at the list. Kevin has asked me to step back and let him handle this. Though it’s hard to let go, I’m also relieved. It’s nice having someone else make the decisions). He then asked Dude to list five things he might want to be when he grew up.

Then he asked him to rate the jobs he listed – which would he really like to have, and which did he not really care that much about. He suggested that he apply at those jobs that he wasn’t that interested in first, just to give him practice applying places. (Smart!)

Then, they talked about his long-term goals. So he wanted to do something with computers. How could he go about achieving that goal? They talked about possibly taking a computer networking class at a vocational college in the spring. (Smart!)

Kevin is a man of action – I tend to just loudly lecture about things. Kevin gets things done. And that’s what Dude needs right now – he needs a plan of action. He needs to act.

He filled out an application last night. And after discussing possible references, he settled on two people for his references and then went about contacting them for information (and permission) to list them on his application. Kevin is giving Dude a chance to drive up to the place himself and turn in his application. If he stalls, then Kevin is prepared to drive him there himself and wait in the car while Dude walks in and turns the application in.

It’s frustrating to me that Dude requires a push IN EVERYTHING the boy does. But again, it’s partly my fault. I sort of TRAINED him to be that way. Now, we need to work on BREAKING that life-long habit. I’m sure it won’t be easy.

I pray that Dude doesn’t grow up feeling “empty, confused and anxious” because of me.

The good news, at least according to Donald Winnicott, the influential English pediatrician and child psychiatrist, was that you didn’t have to be a perfect mother to raise a well-adjusted kid. You just had to be, to use the term Winnicott coined, a “good-enough mother.”

I tried to do my best for the boy – and my best may have been too much.

P.S. I found some other articles about over parenting:

Overparenting: When good intentions go too far, kids can suffer
The Growing Backlash Against Overparenting
The End of Over-Parenting?

Can We Talk?, Parenting

Unsolicited Parenting Advice

Why do you care how I parent my child?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

(RSS Readers – there’s a video. Had to import it via VodPod. I wish VodPod would get on the ball and make it so their transported videos were viewable in readers. My apologizes).

I’ll be the first to admit, I judge other mothers. I try not to, but we all judge on some level. But I rarely, if ever, call a mother out for something she’s doing, or not doing, because A. it’s none of my business and B. I don’t know her, her child, or the situation.

I think I judge because I’m in the same boat and/or I’ve been there, done that and feel like I handled it, though not necessarily the best way. (I have regrets – ho boy, do I have some parenting regrets).

I judge because I’m an experienced mom and I can draw on that experience and think, “there is such a better way of doing that.” Or, “That is a terrible habit to start.” Or, “Oh wow, they’re going to regret giving in so much when that child gets older.”

I think other parents care because of a genuine need to help. It hurts my heart to see a young, frazzled mom out and at a complete loss as to how to control, or soothe, an agitated child. I would love to stop that mom and give her some advice because I was there, I went through that, and I have ideas on how to make it better.

But of course I don’t do that because again, A. it’s none of my business and B. I don’t know her, her child, or the situation.

I think other parents care because they don’t want to see other parents make the same mistakes as they did when confronted by the same issues. They want to protect other parents from going down the same road, and suffering the same heartache and/or guilt that comes from making a wrong decision. It’s a “learn from my mistakes” sort of instinct, I think.

I think other parents care because pointing out someone else’s flaws makes them feel better about their own parenting skills. It’s petty and despicable, and I’m not condoning that “holier than thou” attitude, but it’s a human reaction and one we must control and correct.

I think other parents care because they see potential health risks (like mentioning the child should be wearing a hat when being pushed out into hot, direct sunlight). It’s hard to see a child physically suffer when the fix is so easy.

I think other parents care because they think the young parents don’t know any better. Maybe that mom honestly doesn’t know that putting a hat on her child is protecting her soft, sensitive head.

I think other parents care because these children are our future. Because correcting behavioral problems when they’re young is so much easier than trying to break the mold and start over when they’re in their teens. Bright, disciplined, respectful, considerate children generally grow up to be productive and responsible adults.

All of these are parenting instincts – we’re parents, we should all stick together sort of mentality – they’re natural reactions to situations we’ve experienced – we want to help. But pushing that advice on to other people is not the way to do it. It comes off as rude, intrusive, and snotty and it’s certainly an unwelcome intrusion into something so personal as parenting and our children. Especially at a time when we’re feeling frazzled and unsure how to handle the situation and definitely not receptive to outside “help”. Those young parents KNOW something is not right but they just haven’t processed how to handle it.

It’s like trying something new and you’re concentrating on figuring it out for yourself – you’re trying out different ways of achieving the goal and some know-it-all comes along and solves the problem for you. There’s no satisfaction out of that. There’s no sense of triumph that you handled it all by yourself.

No one likes to be shown up, in any situation.

Then the unsolicited advice comes along and there’s a sense of embarrassment that A. the parent wasn’t strong, or wise, enough to handle the situation on his/her own, and B. all eyes are on them and everything from that point on is center stage and being scrutinized.

It’s just not that much fun to be in the spotlight in uncertain and embarrassing situations.

I am learning to be more patient with young parents. I’m also the type of person to come to a young mom’s defense in stores whenever her child is acting up and other people around her are being rude or hostile. Whenever I see a frazzled mom, I try and catch her eye, give her an encouraging smile and simply say, “I’ve been there.” It’s my way of offering help without being in her face. If it looks like she wants to talk, then I will pause to talk. If she wants advice, then I will give her advice. But often times, she will simply return the smile and I can see the relief in her eyes that someone knows what she’s going through and she’s not alone in her frustration and exasperation.

It’s a lesson that once again, we parents need to be encouraging to one another and to control the judging. Especially when we don’t know the whole situation or the people involved.

Parenting doesn’t come with a manual – we’re all winging it – we’re all in this together. It’s time we started supporting each other.

ADDED: Here’s a really good article about judging moms right here. Seriously ya’ll, I know some of your hearts are in the right place, but it’s time to stop with the over-the-top judging. Children are not made of glass – thank God.

Parenting, Politics

Scaring Our Children into Thinking a Certain Way

Just saw this juicy little tidbit on Twitter and had to share it with you all …

Get this, they are actually showing this video to GRADE SCHOOL kids in Canada:

GRADE SCHOOL kids, people. That is just SICK! I wonder how many of those poor children will have nightmares over this nonsense. NOT to mention, how many children will grow up thinking that it’s TRUE.

THIS is the reason conservatives get so bent out of shape whenever something like this is shown to our children. Forget that it’s disturbing, scary and sad to an eight-year old mind, but it indoctrinates our children into thinking a certain way, which is PRECISELY the goal, I assure you.

Look. I have NO problem discussing Global Warming or any other such nonsense topics as long as people/teachers/parents discuss the OTHER side of the argument as well.

Same goes for Evolution, to use another example. Sure, teach our children the theory of evolution, THEN teach the other side of the coin, creationism. After both sides of the issue have been presented, talk about it, debate it, examine the facts, dissect the rationalization that both sides give for an issue. Give the children (and people in general) ALL of the facts and then allow those children (people) to make up their own minds.

When you only present one side of an issue, then you are brainwashing people into believing the information being fed to them. And when people are brainwashed, then they are easily manipulated into doing, living, VOTING a certain way.

But back to this Global Warming issue, I’ve blogged before how I personally think Global Warming is a bunch of hooey, but that’s the conclusion I came to after examining the issue from both sides of the aisle. However, just because I don’t believe in the scare tactics that our government tries to feed us about how the world is coming to an end because of man-made Global Warming (and the Earth is indeed heating up – but not at the rate they want you to believe and definitely not like the video above has portrayed – I still can’t believe they are actually showing that to children – but I don’t believe it’s because of man that it’s happening), I DO believe we could ALL do better in taking care of our Earth. We can definitely make changes and we definitely waste way too many resources. But that’s the funny thing about humans, they learn. And act. And we’ve already made HUGE strides in the right direction. Can we do better? Absolutely!! But do I think we’re going to end up with a barren world where animals commit suicide because it’s the better alternative to living on a destroyed world?


This is just another example of how we, as parents, as people, need to constantly be aware of what’s going on around us and to take issue with things like this being shoved onto our children. Again, show BOTH sides of the issue (and make it age appropriate for God’s sake), and then discuss it. Don’t just show one side of an issue and deem it “right” or “correct.”

That’s irresponsible and just plain wrong.

At any rate, I found the following video about Global Warming very interesting. Note how the guest speaker mentions that the other networks wouldn’t even interview him or how Al Gore and his followers repeatedly refused to discuss, or debate, these scientists who dared to disagree with them. To me, that says two things:

1. They can’t debate it because their facts are skewed and they know it.
2. The media hand picks and chooses what it shows to the public. That right there should be enough to raise a few warning flags in my book.

Pay attention folks. There is some crazy stuff going on out there.

Can We Talk?, Food, Parenting

Child Obesity Linked to Working Moms and Corporations

Wow. I can’t believe the mom-o-sphere hasn’t been up in arms about this latest “study.”

And before we go any further, just to set the record straight – I’m a mother. I’m a blogger. But I don’t consider myself a mommy blogger. No disrespect to any mommy bloggers out there, I just don’t put myself into that category. So when I say “mommy bloggers,” I’m not talking about myself, per se. I prefer to observe a group, as opposed to being part of a group, then I can be more objective (and vocal) in my opinions without being boiled alive.

If that makes any sense.

Anyway, here’s a snippet of the article:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The more mothers work during their children’s lifetimes, the more likely their kids are to be overweight or obese, according to a US study published on Friday.

Researchers from American University in Washington, Cornell University in New York state and the University of Chicago studied data on more than 900 elementary- and middle-school-aged children in 10 US cities.

They found that the total number of years the children’s mothers worked had a cumulative influence on their children’s body mass index (BMI) — the weight to height ratio used to measure if a person is overweight or obese.

The researchers were unable to clearly explain the findings but theorized that because working mothers have little time to shop for healthy food and prepare meals, they and their children eat more fast- and packaged foods, which tend to be high in fat and calories.

I wish the article had linked to the study, I would like to see the data on this “conclusion.”

Though I can sort of buy it. I mean, working parents are pressed for time. And fast food is fast and convenient. And when you have a 1001 things to do when you get home at night, cooking is low priority. And the kids are hungry. And probably whining … and offering healthy choices is a lot of extra work AND expensive.

I’m guilty of doing this from time-to-time. Kevin and I will get home and THE LAST thing we feel like doing is cooking dinner and then cleaning up afterward. So, we’ll go out and grab some Wendy’s (or some other fast food) just so we’ll have more time to relax and do the things we need to do.

We’ll all crunched for time, we all cut corners whenever we can. There’s nothing wrong with that. I guess the problem starts when that’s ALL we do – when we consistently go for the unhealthy shortcuts and skip the healthier options. Eating healthy is not really that hard – if we make a conscious effort to do so and plan ahead.

Dr. Laura’s blog is what first drew my attention to this. Here is what she had to say on the matter:

The most important part of this study is the part that gets people mad. Well, it gets moms mad. Children’s chances of becoming fat rises the longer mothers work outside the home. Weight problems among children have soared in the past 3 decades as more women have joined the workforce.

But the main problem children have is the inattention of their mothers, because their mothers are burning the candle from one end to the other and all along the middle. Because women have been bullied by the feminist mentality, they no longer believe being a mother and a wife and a homemaker is an adequate thing for anybody to do.

So they have full-time jobs, kids and a husband. They can’t adequately take care of their kids to make sure they exercise and eat right. …

What studies like this show is how important you are to the well-being and health of your children

As usual, Dr. Laura doesn’t mince words. I’m sure that working mothers out there aren’t purposefully feeding their children fatty foods out of neglect, but convenience and cost are definitely factors. I can totally understand WHY working moms resort to these types of food, but I wonder if they’re really thinking about the long-term repercussions of doing so.

(And just for the record, and just to keep things fair and balanced – I’m sure there are a lot of working moms that break their backs to make sure their kids are eating right and getting enough exercise. I’m also sure there are some stay-at-home moms that feed their kids a lot of crap, too. Everyone has their reasons, everyone has to do the best they can do. My point is to try and raise awareness about making healthier choices for our childrens’ sakes, if for no other reason).

One of the reasons I think this article hits a nerve for a lot of people is that once again, parents feel like their parenting skills are being questioned. It’s like watching a caged animal being backed into a corner – they get vicious and defensive. And once again, some people will do, or say anything, to get out of being held accountable.

Which sort of leads me to the other thing I wanted to talk about…

How some people think it’s the big-bad corporations’ fault that people, in general, are obese because of the food they sell.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

(RSS readers – another video that won’t show up in your readers. My apologizes. Click over to watch it).

Where to start….

Yes. Some companies offer fatty foods. They do so because they want to make a profit. It’s the reason companies exist. They do not exist to better mankind, they exist to make a buck. And when they’re successful at making that buck, they expand and employ people.

Jobs make an economy strong.

Should they offer these types of fatty foods? Well why not? People buy them. If people stopped buying them, they would stop making them because they would be losing money. Again with the profit margin thing.

Personally, I think it’s sort of sick that they sell these heart attacks waiting to happen food types and it makes me uncomfortable when I see obese people inhaling these fatty foods. But guys, no one is forcing them to eat that stuff.

No one is twisting people’s arms to buy these fatty foods. No one is holding a gun to people’s heads to consume these fatty foods. Is it sad that they make unwise choices? Absolutely. But it’s their choice. They have the freedom to make that choice and they will have to deal with the consequences of making that bad choice.

(Pst – moderation is KEY).

I’m not sure how it’s the corporations’ fault that people make bad choices.

Once again, blaming corporations is much easier than owning up to our own weakness. Pointing fingers is a heck of a lot easier than exercising will power and simply refusing to eat the junk that’s offered.

But again, let’s be fair. It’s also equally sad that healthy food is not more affordable.

Do I wish the food industry wasn’t so off balanced (and dare I say, corrupt?). Yes. Do I wish people would start demanding that healthy food be made more affordable and available? Yes. And I think we’re starting to make strides in that direction. But do I think we should blame and/or punish big industries for people making bad choices? No. Just don’t buy their products. Get them where it hurts, in their profit margin. They will soon get the hint.

Once again, it’s about taking responsibility for our choices. Once again, society is scrambling to blame someone else.

I’d be discouraged by all of the finger pointing, but I honestly think people are starting to wake up to these tactics.


Can We Talk?, Parenting

Teacher Suspended for Blogging About Her Students

Vodpod videos no longer available.

(RSS readers – I’ve embedded a video. You probably can’t see it so you’ll have to visit my blog to view it. Sorry about that).

I can totally understand this woman’s frustration.

Kids nowadays ARE self-entitled spoiled brats who whine too much because parents are more concerned with being their friends and not their parents. I’m sure it’s terribly difficult to deal with that kind of attitude in the classroom. Especially nowadays when the kids all know that if anything happens, their parents will become fire-breathing dragons and threaten a law suit. (And trust me, I hear about these kids from my high school boys, too. The disruptions, the attitudes, the blatant disrespect. If half of what they tell me is true [and I take what they tell me with a grain of salt], then it’s a wonder these teachers can teach anything over all the “noise” produced by these troublemakers).

I can’t imagine being a teacher in today’s classrooms. I can totally understand why this woman needed to blow off some steam. I’m not a teacher, but I’ve seen enough bad behavior, just as an outside parent, to make my blood boil. Can you imagine being stuck with the brats every day?

However, I do find her naivety just a bit annoying. She published her first name, last initial AND a picture of herself on her blog – yet she didn’t think anyone would ever find her blog? *snort* Please. The Internet has a LOOOOONG memory. Even if you delete some stuff, it’s possible to find it later and today’s kids? Are computer savvy. They’ve grown up on this stuff so it’s really easy for them to navigate and search things out.

I’ll be interested in what happens to her. If her contract specifically addresses an issue like this, then she will deserve to lose her job, but if not, she didn’t do anything illegal. Was it smart? No. But she has a right to her opinion and she didn’t list the school by name or any specific students so …

I ABHOR ABC news – and I thought the interviewer in this video was purposefully slanting the questions to make the teacher look like the insensitive one (because God forbid we blame the PARENTS of these bratty kids for the way they turned out *dramatic gasp*), BUT, I thought the question she posed to the teacher, asking her how she would feel if her children’s teachers made some sort of remark like that referencing her own children was pretty interesting.

I think if I had been asked that question, I’d say something along the lines of, “if my kids are truly that awful when I’m not around, I’d want to know about it. Because no kid of mine is going to blatantly disrespect their teacher like that.”

And I would. I realize that kids are totally different when they are not around their parents, but if they’re that bad? I want to know. I have no problem with being told my kids are acting like assholes because I live with them. And they can be assholes sometimes. I’m not delusional enough to think my kids are on their best behavior at all times.

But I think most parents WOULDN’T want to know. I would imagine most parents would get all defensive if confronted with a less-than perfect child because they would think it reflected poorly on their parenting skills.

Which, it probably would.

But that’s why I felt compelled to write about this because as the teacher says in the video, perhaps this will spark a conversation. A long overdue conversation, about how kids nowadays are out of control. How parents don’t parent anymore, they pawn off them off on the nearest caregiver, relative or school they can find. How parents don’t seem to have a backbone anymore when it comes to teaching their children morals and disciplining them when they do something wrong. It’s all about not hurting Johnny’s feelings or bruising his self-esteem.

(*talk to the hand*)

Hogwash. I get so impatient with that “new age” way of thinking. Kids are tough little boogers, not to mention, extremely smart. Kids pick up on this wimpy parenting style and they manipulate it for all it’s worth. They KNOW teachers can’t touch them. They KNOW teachers are really limited to what they can do or say before getting themselves into trouble. They KNOW that mommy and/or daddy will bail them out if all they do is cry their tears or cry foul in some way.

We’re raising a pampered, spoiled generation. Let’s be honest.

So yeah, I feel sorry for this teacher. She probably shouldn’t have wrote those things on such a public forum (if she just wanted to keep it between her and her friends, she should have made it a private blog), but she’s only saying what we’re all thinking.

Our youth HAVE gotten out of control and parents? It’s time to own up and take some responsibility. Our kids are whiny brats because we’ve raised them to be that way.


Parent Involvement Could Become a Law

Wait. Require parents to become involved in their children’s education? What a NOVEL concept!

I love it!! I found this on Dr. Laura’s blog and just had to do a little digging. (And please, for those of you that automatically stopped reading the moment you saw Dr. Laura’s name, please read my disclaimer – assuming you’re still reading).

Florida State representative Kelli Stargel has introduced a bill requiring teachers of grades K-3 to rate PARENTS, because she believes parental involvement is key to educating children.

Read the proposed bill, HB 255, here.

This is a sore subject with me and that’s probably because I’ve seen, heard and been around enough parents in the public school system to know that a lot of parents? (Note I didn’t say all, but a lot). Look at school as a babysitter. They AREN’T involved in their children’s education and then their children don’t perform as well as their peers and the parents are left scratching their heads wondering WHY and OH MY GOSH, it’s the TEACHER’S fault. He/she is not teaching their child correctly.

Now granted, that happens. Teachers are humans. They have bad days. They have a lot of crap to shuffle through and don’t have a lot of time to give each child individual attention and they don’t get paid that well so their motivation is not always the best …

… but I would argue, isn’t THAT the reason parents need to get involved with their children’s education??

In other words, it’s everyone’s fault BUT the child’s and/or the parents. Even though education begins at home.

Parent involvement is most effective when it is comprehensive, well planned, and continues throughout the school year.

Parental involvement should be developmental with a preventive rather than remedial approach and an integral part of a strategy to improve student achievement.

Parents do not need to be formally educated to provide support and assistance to improve the academic performance of their child.

At-riskchildren have the most to gain from parental involvement.

Here are some strategies that parents can use to support their children’s learning.

Attend parent-teacher conferences. (Learn the child’s strength / weaknesses).

Establish a home environment that supports the child as a student.

Contact teacher if a problem arises from homework, home situations change that may disrupt the student’s performance, absences and makeup assignments.

Monitor homework completion. (Ask to see it. Don’t just take the child’s word for it).

Make sure the child is on time, prevent frequent absences and provide school supples. (Don’t give the “but we can’t afford school supplies”. There are many programs out there that can help with that very issue).

Make sure the child is fed (again, programs to help out with that).

Adequate medical care (immunizations, [clinics provide these for free – check your community calendars], dental).

Providing the child with a place to do homework, adequate research materials (hello, library!), time slot for child to do homework (don’t over schedule children so that their time is completely gone), help prepare for tests and projects,

Sounds like a lot of work, right?

Welcome to parenting.

I thought it was interesting when Dr. Laura asked Rep. Stargel why stop at 3rd grade? Stargel responded with a vague answer about how as kids get older, they get harder to control and it’s harder to MAKE them do anything.

True. BUT, again, I would argue, that that is when the child needs his/her parents even more. Children need to be taught to discipline themselves when it comes to finishing assignments, to work independently and become their own individuals. But speaking as the mom of teenagers? It can be done.

Now please, don’t think I’m a parenting expert. I’ve made, and continue to make, my fair share of mistakes – just ask my kids. But if there ‘s anything I’ve learned from this parenting gig? You have to make a conscience decision to be the grown up in the situation. You also have to make a commitment to be there for your child at all times.

Is it a pain? Yeah, sometimes. Is it inconvenient at times? Sure. But parenting is not easy, and it’s not convenient and it requires a lot of patience, stamina and sacrifices. Those are the requirements.

Just because children get older, it doesn’t mean parents stop getting involved in their lives. We reserve the right to butt into our boys’ lives at any time and for any reason. We keep track of their grades. We ask a lot of questions and check up on them to verify those answers. If their behavior changes and they’re no longer following rules, or they lie to us, or their grades drop, we take things away from them. We remove the distractions, the STUFF that is taking their attention away from their duties and responsibilities.

Case in point About five years ago, when Dude was in 8th grade and Jazz was in 6th grade, their grades plummeted. They were truly bad. We warned them. If they didn’t bring them up a whole letter grade by next grade card, they would lose their video games and computers.

They didn’t come up. And we physically removed their games, took the power cords off their computers and the grades were so bad, they weren’t even allowed to watch TV. Our rationale? Now they would have more time to devote to their studies. Once their grades came back up to an acceptable level (and we’re talking high C’s – we don’t expect our boys to make straight A’s. We’d LIKE for them to make straight A’s, but we’re realists – some kids simply aren’t capable of making straight A’s in every subject), then they could have their STUFF back.

This lasted for a solid month. They. HATED. Us.

It was awkward. It was uncomfortable. It was NOT fun. But we stuck to our guns. And the boys brought their grades up and their privileges were restored. They’ve been excellent students ever since. And though I’d like to say that they WANT to do well (and I believe they do, as long as the work is easy), I know they were really motivated to get their stuff back.

But it doesn’t matter. They learned a lesson. The same applies to the real world. You slack off work, don’t show up, do a piss-poor job, the boss will fire you. Then you won’t have money to pay your bills and you certainly won’t have enough to spend on entertainment. You lose STUFF.

We went through that entire ordeal (and trust me, it was an ORDEAL) because we keep track of their lives. We stayed on top of their educational duties. We taught them the importance of taking their responsibilities seriously.

We were, and are, involved in their lives.

I honestly think some parents think that once their kids reach a certain age level, their parenting job is done. It’s over. They’re not responsible for them anymore. And I say, until that kid graduates from high school, yes you are.

At any rate, I had to write about this topic because I’m pretty passionate about it. And it encourages me to see that people are FINALLY waking up to the fact that if we want our children to be successful, it starts at home and with getting parents involved. Our children are young, they are immature, they need guidance, structure and discipline so they can grow up to be responsible adults. If there is no one around to teach them these things, well … you have today’s society.

I hate that the government has to get involved, YET AGAIN, but if it means helping at-risk children get through school and form stronger bonds with their families, then so be it.

You can listen to Dr. Laura’s interview with Rep. Stargel here.


Football is Hard on the Brain

I read an article in the New York Times today (which is a shocker in itself because I pretty much loathe the New York times) about the possible correlation between football and brain damage.

The article cites a young college man who committed suicide and when the parents gave permission for examiners to autopsy his brain, they “discovered early stages of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease linked to depression and impulse control primarily among N.F.L. players, two of whom also committed suicide in the last 10 years.”

Even though the doctors are being careful to say that though the young man had this brain disease and played football, it’s not necessarily the reason he hung himself.

BUT, they are noticing this same disorder in other football players that have committed suicide over the years.

Thomas never had a diagnosis of a concussion on or off the football field or even complained of a headache, his parents said, although they acknowledged he was the kind of player who might have ignored the symptoms to stay on the field. Because of this, several doctors said, his C.T.E. — whose only known cause is repetitive brain trauma — must have developed from concussions he dismissed or from the thousands of subconcussive collisions he withstood in his dozen years of football, most of them while his brain was developing.

The idea that C.T.E. can stem from hits below the level of concussion — which are endemic to football and all but impossible for doctors to see or manage — is relatively new.

They now wonder if years of being pummeled to death all in the name of playing a good game might have something to do with this CTE.

And at the risk of sounding insensitive – duh.

I have never understood the appeal. I can’t imagine why anyone would knowingly put themselves in a situation where they will routinely be beat up – sometimes severely and often times to the point where they are actually injured. I don’t see how butting heads, quite literally, play after play, game after game, and year after year, (starting as early as Mighty Mites) could possibly do anything BUT injure someone’s brain.

It all seems like pointless torture, in my opinion. And for what, exactly, a game?!?

Now granted, our boys are anything BUT athletic. In fact, they will be the first to tell you that they hate sports. All sports, all the time. They just aren’t interested. So, I’ve never had to worry about them getting hurt in that arena. (So to speak). But even if they HAD expressed an interest in sports, football specifically (because even though an individual can get hurt in any sport, hell, one can get injured just crossing the street sometimes, that person is less likely to get hurt than willingly participating in a contact sport like football where the whole objective is to tackle, and knock each other down as fast and as hard as one can possibly achieve), I am pretty sure we would have vetoed that idea.

Actually, there’s not pretty sure, we would have said, “no way in hell.”

I was directed to this article in the New York Times through a blog. This woman was talking about how she’s nervous for her son, who eats, sleeps and lives for football and how even though she’s scared something like this might happen to her son, she can’t live her life in fear of it happening.

And I agree with her – you can’t live your life in fear and that should never stop you from living your life in a responsible and safe way. But I have to disagree with her willingness to sacrifice her son to repeated abuse on the football field. Even though her son will likely not develop CTE, or mess his brain up to the point where he takes his own life (God forbid), how does she know that his repeated abuse on the field isn’t taking SOME sort of toll on his brain and possibly causing long-term issues?

Accidents happen, of course. But this goes beyond accidents – this is willingly, and knowingly, placing a child in a dangerous situation, not once, but every day, week, year of his young life.

Again, I ask … why? All for the sake of a game? I just don’t understand why anyone would risk a life-altering illness, or injury all for the sake of those few minutes in the end zone?

Please understand, I’m not criticizing this woman’s decision, or any parents’ decision to allow their sons to play football, not at all, they have the freedom to make those choices, and if the kids are willing and love it, then by all means, go for it.

I just wonder how many parents truly think about the possible repercussions – to me, the odds of my sons permanently damaging themselves are just too high for me, I’m not willing to play that particular game of Russian Roulette.

We all went to a football game this past Friday night at my sons’ high school – Jazz was playing in the band at half time, which is the only reason we were there to begin with. I like to watch football, and I like the sport, overall, though I’m now seriously reconsidering my opinions on the sport after reading this article and thinking how the sport impacts these young men as individuals, and two of our players got injured. The crowd got deathly quiet as we awaited word on the boys’ conditions.

The first time it happened, I watched one of the coaches talk to the mother, explaining the situation to her. From what I can gather, he broke his arm. He was taken off the field in the golf cart.

The second time, the boy was able to get up on his own, but walked with a noticeable limp. I believe he sat out for a few plays, but ended up back in the game. His father was sitting right in front of me and he didn’t move a muscle when his son was lying on the field. He didn’t move when he was escorted off the field, and still didn’t move to find out what was happening when they were looking at him on the side lines.

I simply don’t understand how any parent could simply sit there and not at least go down to see how his child was doing. I mean, I get the whole, “we’re in high school and OMG, parents are so dumb and uncool and don’t talk to me,” stigma – I have two teenage boys myself, remember? But when the child has been injured, all bets are off.

Even though the boys were physically injured, after reading this article, I wonder how many boys went home after that game with a headache, or feeling woozy, or just not feeling “right” overall. I’ve seen several kids weave off the field and act disoriented and again I have to ask, how could they NOT be disoriented after being treated like a punching bag for an hour?

I guess the point of this post is to raise awareness of the dangers of participating in football. I mean, it seems the “cool” thing to brag about, “my kid is in such-and-such sport” but at what cost? Both short term and long term?

I can’t tell you the number of weird looks I’ve received over the years whenever I’ve talked to parents and they ask, “what sport does your son play” and my answer has been, “none. He’s a geek and we’re cool with that.” It annoys me that they assume that our sons are in something because it seems the “norm” for them to play something.

Though I wish they had gotten involved in some team … activity, these things really are a great tool to teach our children the importance of working together as a team and sportsmanship, I have to be honest, I’m really glad they never got involved in anything that could potentially rattle their brains.

The Thomas case will almost certainly prove more arresting to those assessing the long-term risks of football at all levels, as he had developed the disease before leaving college and, for reasons that remain unknown, developed severe depression and killed himself.

“It’s pretty hard to make a jump with one case,” said Dr. James Moriarity, the University of Notre Dame’s head physician, who oversees the athletic department’s medical care. “But if it’s true that that happened, it would kill the sport,” he said, referring to an amateur player getting C.T.E. “As a parent, it’s going to be hard to justify kids going out and doing that.”

Maybe we need to seriously reassess this sport for what it is – downright dangerous.


Tough Love

Tough love is an expression used when someone treats another person harshly or sternly with the intent to help them in the long run.

I think it’s safe to say that I’m a strict, controlling and sometimes mean mother.

I also think it’s safe to say that I hate having to be this way, that I often isolate myself away from my family and cry my heart out about the tough choices I have to make, but that I think it’s necessary to implement a little tough love in order to raise responsible, self-sufficient and world-savvy children.

I take my mothering job very seriously. I have to. Who else is going to teach him how to survive out in this cold, hard world if I don’t do it?

(And when I say I, I mean both me and Kevin. He’s definitely not afraid to jump in and either back me up or implement a little of his own tough love).

When it comes to sensitive subjects or issues, I’m the sort of person who would rather just rip the bandage off and endure the two minutes of pain afterward than to stretch it out and endure periods of dull, mind-numbering pain over a two month period.

Again. I don’t LIKE being this way, but I honestly believe, in my heart, a little dose of reality goes a LOOONG way.

ToughLove So, when I see parents coddle their children, I cringe. Children are little people. They’re made of flesh and blood. They can be molded. They are pliable.

They are not made of glass. They will not break or shatter if you hurt their little, wittle feelings.


I don’t mean to be heartless, but come on people. Your kids? Need a healthy does of reality now and again. They NEED to know where their boundaries are. They NEED to know what you expect from them. They NEED to know that just because they want something, doesn’t necessarily mean they will get it.

They NEED to know the power of NO once in a while. (They also NEED to know the power of yes once in a while, too. But that’s probably a whole other post).

They also NEED to know you’re their parent and not their friend. I hate to break this to you, but you can not be both. It’s impossible. At least, not until they have reached adulthood and have children of their own – THEN, and only then, is it possible to evolve your relationship into something other than an authority figure, but even then, it’s a thinly veiled friendship underlined by authority.

I’m sure that made sense on some level.


Look. I’ve been at this parenting gig for nearly 17 years now and though I will never claim to be an expert, I do know one thing for sure: your kids WILL hate you at one (or several) point in their lives. It’s inevitable.

At least, if you’re doing your parenting job correctly.

How can they not? Unless you’ve been a welcome mat for your child’s every whim, you’ve had to put your foot down on a request, or a wayward behavior or two, during the course of their short lives. And because they are children and are not emotionally mature enough to see the wisdom of your decision, they will have felt angry and resentful toward you.

I like to jokingly say that you haven’t TRULY obtained your full motherhood badge UNTIL your kids have cursed you under their breath.

I have a whole wall full of badges. I’ll show you sometime.

I remember H.A.T.I.N.G. my parents when I was a teen. (Sorry mom and dad. I don’t NOW of course. I wuv you both very much!). And there really wasn’t a reason why I hated them, I just hated the fact that they wouldn’t allow me to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.

*gasp* I KNOW. The audacity of my parents for loving me enough not to let me go wild. Bad parents.

But I was a young, stupid, wise-ass kid who thought I knew it all and there was a time period I was, erhm, less than nice to my parents and treated them like they were idiots. In fact, I’m just shocked that their heads didn’t explode from having to deal with my attitude.

And trust me when I say, I had an attitude the size of our national deficit.

And now, I have two boys who have reached that stage in their lives where they are tentatively spreading their wings and testing the air currents for a few practice solo flights.

And since wing span takes up so much space and our house is just a modest ranch-style home, it gets a wee bit crowded in here when that happens. Prides are pinched, sanity’s are squeezed and authority levels are tested.

Boy howdy, are they tested.

For the most part, my boys are well behaved. They do occasionally test me, but heck, I’d worry about them if they DIDN’T test me now and again. And we’ve had several skirmishes over staying up later than usual, or sneaking food at odd hours (sound familiar, mom?), and we’ve worked through some lies now and again.

But they were all relatively calm battles and we all relatively walked away from them with a few scrapes and bruises (figuratively speaking, of course).

Until about a year ago.

Dude hit 15 and Satan opened up the gates of hell on our house. Bedtime became AN ISSUE! And yes, it warrants all capital letters because it was AN ISSUE in our house.

Going to bed at a decent hour was suddenly deemed for little kids only. Who needed sleep! He was a TEENAGER, he didn’t need no stinkin’ sleep.

Now again, I’m no parenting expert, but I’m pretty sure all of the parenting books and gurus out there will tell you that teenagers? Need A LOT of sleep to function. They are growing at an alarming rate. Their bodies HAVE to have that sleep so they can have a chance to kick puberty in the ass. It’s a biological thing.

But emotionally? Teenagers fight sleep with every fiber of their being. You thought it was bad when they were toddlers? Just wait … oh, just you wait.

I don’t mean to scare you but …. scratch that … there is no way I can sugar coat the teenage battle field. It’s challenging, it’s ugly and it’s inevitable.

Brace yourselves.

Suffice it to say, Dude and I had it out. And it was ugly. And I said some things that I will always regret. But in some twisted way, it was sort of good that it did happen because it taught me a valuable parenting lesson: my end-all authority with this kid had come to a screeching halt. Though I had final say, I had to learn to compromise and to let that tether rope out just a bit more, just enough to give him the illusion (heh) of having more freedom.

And it taught Dude to respect the fact that even though he was earning the right to make his own decisions, he still had to abide by house rules.

Since that incident, we’ve had a few snits now and again, but nothing like that blowout. It was a turning point in our relationship and I can honestly say, we’ve gotten along a lot better since that skirmish. I stuck to my guns, but I learned to bend a little. I learned that it was time to give up that iron-clench hold on him and let him BE an individual.

I’ve always been pretty honest with my boys. We talk about sex, we talk about peer pressure and we talk about their futures – a lot. I guess I’m emotionally prepping them for the day when they will leave the nest. And though it was really hard for me to initially let go of my boys, I’m learning that I’m actually looking forward to them becoming men. It’s fascinating to watch them physically morph into mature beings.

Jazz has grown about two inches these past few months. And his voice has dropped several octaves. He no longer looks, or sounds, like my baby anymore. He’s left the little boy realm and has stepped into the young man arena.

Though I’ve been sad to see him go, I think I’m more excited to see what comes next. And I PRAY that Jazz and I don’t have any explosive growing pains that Dude and I had. (We’re approaching that 15-year mark with Jazz. For some reason, 15 seems to be THE magical number in our household).

But if we do. I can hack it. Bring it on. Not because I welcome the drama but because it’s my job, as his mother, to make sure he stays on a rational and responsible path.

Dishing out tough love is not fun, but I know in my heart it’s necessary in order to help them grow and mature and to prep them for a life that doesn’t include me or my stupid rules.