More rules in adolescence? - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-28-2005, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am reading "Reviving Ophelia" by Mary Pipher, PhD. I admit I am not yet thru the whole book (about half way), but I am reading some alarming things....and wondering if the GD mamas here have found these things to be true. The book is about adolescent girls--how they struggle and lose their true self, and how different family styles affect the adolescent journey.

We are a household with few "rules". Just the basics: respect and safety about sums it up. And, of course, respect is mutual. We are very democratic, with lots of negotiation. Dd (4) is encouraged to problem solve and think for herself. At age 4, this works great for us.

But, Pipher is saying that this family style (liberal, democratic, negotiating) produces adolescent girls with the *most* turmoil. She is not damning the style--she also submits that, once these girls struggle thru adolescence, they are the most dynamic, individual, interesting women.

Here is her basic summary:
Strict, dictatorship family, lots of censorship: easy, happy adolescent. Little depression, drug use, etc....but also little individuality. Tends not to produce a dynamic adult.

Moderate family, moderate censorship: moderate problems. Moderate adult.

Liberal, free family, little/no censorship: BIG adolescent problems. (says girls become overwhelmed at this age with choices--and without someone giving them firm limits about what choices are acceptable, make really poor decisions.)

Ok, now I am scared, lol. Yes, I still want to raise that well adjusted, free-thinking *adult*---but I was not hoping for an adolescence filled with life-threatening choices!!!

One important point: in every example given by the author, the girls are in school. How would homeschooling affect this dynamic?

Thoughts? Experiences?
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Old 02-28-2005, 12:50 PM
 
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I read this book too, I think it's a very important book for those of us who have daughters. My oldest is going on 9, so we haven't quite gotten there yet but it's coming soon.
I do know from my own experiece as a girl that I did fall into that horrible place...I did drugs, lied to my parents a lot, stopped doing all of the things I did well (sports, music, etc...) and completely wasted my entire Junior High and High School years. I have ended up being quite a "dynamic adult" and I love who I've become, but I definatley think my life might be a little better if I had been more appropriately focused during those years.
For me, it's mostly because my parents just weren't that involved. I really think that is the key.
For my kids I plan to be open, liberal, democratic etc.. but I also plan to remain quite involved with thier every day lives. I hope that will make the difference. :
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Old 02-28-2005, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmb123
For my kids I plan to be open, liberal, democratic etc.. but I also plan to remain quite involved with thier every day lives. I hope that will make the difference. :
cmb--I am going to play devil's advocate for a moment (actually, I am going to play Pipher for a moment ).

The picture she paints of very attached girls in liberal families is this:

Girl and mama very attached. They are happy.
Adolescence hits. Dd wants to separate from mom (natural).
Dd "rebels", and mom "understands" (mom is sympathetic, tries to be supportive, etc)
Dd "rebels" more and more, desperately trying to separate from mom.
Mom "understands" some more....
Dd's life mission becomes "aggravate mom". She is not even being true to herself, because she is defining herself as "not mom".
Mom is perplexed....and aggravated

This doesn't look good! Someone tell me that this book is a bunch of bunk!
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Old 02-28-2005, 04:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunnmama
Girl and mama very attached. They are happy.
Adolescence hits. Dd wants to separate from mom (natural).
Dd "rebels", and mom "understands" (mom is sympathetic, tries to be supportive, etc)
Dd "rebels" more and more, desperately trying to separate from mom.
Mom "understands" some more....
Dd's life mission becomes "aggravate mom". She is not even being true to herself, because she is defining herself as "not mom".
Mom is perplexed....and aggravated

This doesn't look good! Someone tell me that this book is a bunch of bunk!
I still am hopeful!
Although I have been an AP parent all of the way, my oldest dd is already very much "separated" from me. Part of my AP philosophy is that by doing all of the holding, carrying, extended breastfeeding co-sleeping etc...when they are little, will give them the strong attached foundation to be able to separate at the appropriate time for them. DD1 is very independant, smart and strong. I am always sort of "around" but I'm very hands off, unless she wants me to be more hands on (which actually happens at night, she as the oldest is the one that ends up in bed with me most, I think that's the time she likes to reconnect.) I really feel Mom letting go little by little is the key. I work at a school, and I see so many Mom's that are up their kids butts sooo much...those are the kids I worry about reallly rebeling later on.
So right now I'm pretty hands off..she's in 3rd grade, and I know what's going on, not too much to worry about. When she heads into Jr. High etc...I totally anticipate having to readjust yet again to meet her needs at that time.

I'm glad you are bringing this up...I read that book when dd1 was a baby, and it all seemed so far away...I've got to re read for sure!
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Old 02-28-2005, 04:45 PM
 
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I find this forum very interesting. I would LOVE to hear from some of the moms that have older daughters, that are past adolescence, in their college years or past. I have 4 children, two sons that are grown, and two teenage daughters. My daughters have very different personalities. I find this issue has more to do with the strength of the will. I was a very attached parent while my children were very young, and remained involved in school, sports activities etc as they grew up. Breastfed youngest for 24 months. Stay at home mom. My own experience growing up, did not give parents much to worry about, mostly just thought I was "right" 95% of the time, and was in trouble for getting the last word. Have led a very stable, upward, respectable, interesting life as an adult. Will say that my life does revolve around my family, and have made that choice happily. Oldest son was very rebellious as teen, stablized into a healthy adult in mid-20's. Second son early 20's follows the family rules and will achieve success in academics, sports etc. Since I have four, I find that it has alot more to do with the child and their strength of will. I would love to hear experiences from other moms about their findings. Unfortunately most of those moms are not "here on these boards" they are OUT there enjoying their freedom!!!
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Old 02-28-2005, 05:15 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunnmama

Liberal, free family, little/no censorship: BIG adolescent problems. (says girls become overwhelmed at this age with choices--and without someone giving them firm limits about what choices are acceptable, make really poor decisions.)
Who's to say you can't be liberal and free with the "little stuff" but firm about what's really important? Yes, you can wear that micro-mini skirt but, no, you can't go to that unchaperoned party, or ride with your friend who's only had her liscence for 2 weeks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sunmama
Girl and mama very attached. They are happy.
Adolescence hits. Dd wants to separate from mom (natural).
Dd "rebels", and mom "understands" (mom is sympathetic, tries to be supportive, etc)
Dd "rebels" more and more, desperately trying to separate from mom.
Mom "understands" some more....
Dd's life mission becomes "aggravate mom". She is not even being true to herself, because she is defining herself as "not mom".
Mom is perplexed....and aggravated
I grew up with a very "liberal" Mom and NEVER went through what was described above.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 13(homeschooled)
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Old 02-28-2005, 07:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthla
Who's to say you can't be liberal and free with the "little stuff" but firm about what's really important? Yes, you can wear that micro-mini skirt but, no, you can't go to that unchaperoned party, or ride with your friend who's only had her liscence for 2 weeks.
Yes, this is a good approach. Especially if you also keep a dialogue open about that micro-mini and how society views women, etc., allowing her to have her own views, even when polar opposite of yours at times.

I am responding only here as a therapist to many adolescents. I don't have a teenage daughter. Piper's book is excellent, but each child will be different and respond to different parenting styles based on temperament. What I have seen is that, in general, teens respond best to the style exemplified in the quote above. When they are given lots of emotional freedom to explore who they are and who they want to be, but their parents stay very concerned and involved when it comes to keeping them safe, they usually do fine. I see the most risk-taking behaviors from teen girls whose parents are various versions of self-involved. Either they fancy themselves concerned with their kid, but really they're concerned more with their own feelings (I see that one often), or they truly believe the kid is "bad" and don't think they're responsible at all. What I've learned from seeing so many parents is to work hard at being conscious about my own feelings and issues on a moment to moment basis so I can free up my kid to have the emotional space he needs to explore his. I'm convinced right now that's the single most important thing I can do as a parent.
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Old 02-28-2005, 07:39 PM
 
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KCHOFFMANN -
I LOVE your advise. It is so logical. Years ago, when I was struggling with issues with my oldest son as a teen, I listened to a series of Parenting tapes, that communicated - "the parents should focus more on what God is doing with the parents, and issues with them, and that the teens will find their way, as the parents have a healthy approach to their children". Often times a parents response is out of fear for the future or out of what our "goals" are for our children, we need to help them to put the goals on THEIR list, not ours. It doesn't make life any easier with a teen, but it makes perfect sense, requires alot of patience also. You can not prevent your child from making mistakes, but you can be there in love and support, so that they do turn to YOU for guidance, instead of others. Kids need accountability and structure within reasonable boundaries. Defining exactly those boundaries is a very individual issue. That's why parenting is a full time job. Thank you for your input - it's a great reminder!
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Old 02-28-2005, 08:38 PM
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My only child is still a baby, so I am writing this from the point of view of the teenager -- I believe that I remember those years well and in a fairly unbiased way, though I am now almost 30. My feeling is that the theory of teenage 'rebellion' as something directed at parents is much more parent-centric than kids that age actually are. I was 'wild' as a teenager and did lots of things that my parents didn't want me to do and that I'm sure you don't want your daughters to do. I smoked cigarettes, I drank and took drugs recreationally, I was sexually active, and I lied to my parents about all those things because I knew it would scare them and I wanted them to be happy. I am not 100% satisfied with every choice I made as a kid (or since!) but I do not regret those years -- I had a great time, I learned some things about myself, and I "got it out of my system" so that I do not struggle with monogamy or a family-centered lifestyle in the way that many people I know seem to. The most important thing about those years is that my parents had raised me to have enough sense and self-worth that I didn't let any of that wildness screw me up in a long term way -- I maintained a perfect GPA in high school (and college but I was out of the wild phase by then), I never had unprotected sex, I was careful about the people I was around when I was not sober. My parents were worried (and that is one of the things that I do regret about those years) but never tried to become authoritarian -- I'm sure that would have been very bad for my relationship with them and would have done nothing to change my choices. I'm not sure what I'm trying to say other than that my parents were wonderful, involved, and respectful -- the choices I made as a teenager were just part of who I am and I needed to make them. I can only imagine how scary it is to watch your child out there in the world making choices that worry you. I have always said that my rule for my teenagers will be "have fun, but don't be dumb" -- I just hope I am brave enough to trust them when the time comes.
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Old 02-28-2005, 08:58 PM
 
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Thank you Elizabeth. I appreciate your viewpoint from the teenage perspective. My grown son has told me numerous times, that it was not about "us" as parents, it was about his need to "get it out of his system". Even though we could never come to a conclusion as to WHY he made poor choices during his teens, he has had to live with them. And honestly, I am very proud of him today, for the person he is today. Parents need to remember that teens are not the culmination of all their parenting efforts. You may not see the results of your efforts for many years down the road.
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Old 02-28-2005, 09:31 PM
 
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And then there is Dr. Gordon Neufeld's book "Hold on to Your Kids". He basically says the opposite. That kids who are truly attached to their parents don't look to their peers to fulfill those attachment needs, and thus escape alot of the peer pressure, rebellion, etc.

As the child of a house with lots of rules, I can say that all I wanted as a teenager was Freedom and I did pretty much whatever I could to get it. In other words, I lied alot about where I was and what I was doing.

The other thing I wanted to say, was along the lines of Ruthia. Being GD and democratic doesn't mean your family doesn't have rules or limits. Example: teenage DD wants to go to a party, she asks you and you discuss it with her. You find out no adults will be home. You say no way. Then you "problem-solve" with her to find a solution. You could have a party here (with parents at home), for example. Or other such suggestions.

In the "problem solving" scenarios I've read about, the ones where the child is involved, the parents still have the right to Veto any suggestions on the list, as do the kids. The solution is the choice that both parties agree upon. Which means that there will often be suggestions that you get to "just say no" to.

My guess is that Pipher's description of the "liberal family" doesn't necessarily hold true for how I practice GD.

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Old 03-01-2005, 11:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all of the thoughtful posts. They are making me feel better!
Basically, you are reaffirming all of the things I believe. That I can let go of the small things, and still be firm on the safety/respect issues (as I do now). That GD is the way to go!

.....but I must admit....that book scared the heck out of me....
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