When my oldest daughter was in preschool, I remember having to walk a very long way through the halls of the large grade school in order to pick her up. While waiting, I was chatting with another mom and she said she left her other kid in the car. I refrained from screaming, "WHAT? ARE F'ING CRAZY?" Instead I asked, "Is that safe?" No answer, just a dirty look. It was then that I realized there really isn't one parenting handbook. While I knew there was going to be a little gray, I thought everyone pretty much knew what was acceptable and what wasn't.
It's hard to do this parenting thing alone, so I've always cherished the statement that it takes a village to raise a child.
Two of my kids are in high school now and they had homecoming this past weekend. They had a blast. However the best (for the kids) and worst (for the parents) part of any school dance is the after party. During the early high school dance years, my husband went to every single after party with my daughter. She was mortified. But she also stayed out of trouble.
This year, I tried to trust my village. For all of you that are going to say, "Don't you trust your kids?" Uh, well, they're teenagers, and I kind of think it's a prerequisite to get through those years lying and getting away with as much as possible. Sooo, the short answer is no. I trust that I gave them tools to make smart decisions, but teens don't have fully developed brains and they're predisposed to make stupid choices. I'm not opposed to them stumbling, but I'm just trying to delay the major wipe outs.
The day after homecoming I found out the metaphorical village I live in sucks.
We made sure both our kids were home safely that night, but many parents didn't have that same luxury. The stories of alcohol and drug filled parties were endless. I knew a few people that hosted parties and one even provided a keg for the kids. When I asked why they would possibly host that and open themselves up to the liability, here are some of the quotes I heard:
- "I'd rather have it at my house so I know what's going on."
- "At least I knew nobody was driving" (no DUI's at this party, but one girl was taken to the hospital with alcohol poisoning)
- "My son is being an entrepreneur!" (he charged $5 for girls and $10 for boys to get into his house and paid off a gambling debt with the profits)
- "It's just innocent fun - and at least I don't have to worry about my son being the one that ends up pregnant!"
- My favorite came from a dad at a soccer game on Sunday - "It's gonna happen. We all did it and our kids are going to do it. It's all good as long as nobody pukes in my house."
Sometimes I wonder if I'm the one that's crazy because people speak so matter-of-factly that this is how life is and if I don't give in now then they'll go absolutely crazy when they get to college. However, everyone I knew that went nuts in high school, still went nuts in college. They didn't exactly get it out of their system early. It doesn't work that way.
I'm hoping to trust the village one day, but for the near future, I think I'm going to keep my circle of trusted parents very small.
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