"Why can't we be normal?" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 11-13-2011, 02:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This seems to be what I hear over and over from my 11 year old son.  "Why can't you just buy fake syrup.  This stuff come from trees and is gross."  "Why can't you just get all the tv channels.  Other kids watch whatever they want."  "It's so embarrassing when the clothes are on the line.  Just use the dryer." "Call john's mom and find out what the stuff she feeds me is and buy that."   "Why can't we be normal?  I just want to be normal!"

 

I'm sad that he feels he has to be the same as everyone else to fit in.  He is a popular kid in that he never lacks for someone to play with (part because of his personality, part because of living in a neighborhood with lots of boys his age), is given a fair bit of freedom in regards to playing out and about without needing to check in and is allowed to stay home without supervision.  I can only see this getting more difficult as he gets older and the frustration is about more than just maple syrup! 

 

Anyone else with kids doing similar things?  I sometimes think (and don't judge me on this!), "I don't want to be normal like your friend's mom if that means driving a big assed suv with two kids, thinking drinking water is bad for kids, putting out 5 barrels of trash every week and spending $50 a month on a zillion stations of tv I really don't want my kids to watch!"  I don't want my kid to be "normal" if that means not being able to play football because you weigh too much at age 11, or you care more about your hair gel than playing in the woods, or you think it is stupid to hang clothes on the line when you have a dryer in the house.  But I don't think that would help him.

 

Tell me about your kids' struggles with this!  Tell me every kid is having this same conversation with his parents!


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#2 of 21 Old 11-13-2011, 03:18 PM
 
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I have 4 ranging from 5-18. My 5 year old hasn't started this yet, and 13yo has had different things to complain about, but my 11 and 18 yos have done this to one extant or another. I have raised them in fairly crunchy/progressive communities, so that helps, but those influences are still there. For me it is/was definitely a "pick your battle". For instance, I still cook organic, healthy food, but I've adapted to more traditional kid friendly recipes in addition to turning as blind eye to a lot of junk food (I will not buy it, but if they obtain it and still eat everything else good, fine.)  in a similar vein, I was dead set against video games, but when my eldest was 13, he managed to manifest a Play Station all on his own. I let them have it, but had firm guidelines about it's use and what games they could have. They weren't always happy that they didn't get to play like some of their friends, but given choice of "some" or "none", they choose "some".

My only other suggestion is continuing to explain your choices rationally and with out a charge. Sometimes it feels like they aren't interested, but it does sink in, and if you are reasonable about what to enforce, they will know that it is for their own good, even if they don't like it.

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#3 of 21 Old 11-13-2011, 04:22 PM
 
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This seems to be what I hear over and over from my 11 year old son.  "Why can't you just buy fake syrup.  This stuff come from trees and is gross."  "Why can't you just get all the tv channels.  Other kids watch whatever they want."  "It's so embarrassing when the clothes are on the line.  Just use the dryer." "Call john's mom and find out what the stuff she feeds me is and buy that."   "Why can't we be normal?  I just want to be normal!"

 

Whenever my kids say something like "why can't you be normal?"  I always respond with "because then I won't win weirdest mother of the year award!"  They take it in stride. 

 

He is a popular kid in that he never lacks for someone to play with (part because of his personality, part because of living in a neighborhood with lots of boys his age), is given a fair bit of freedom in regards to playing out and about without needing to check in and is allowed to stay home without supervision.  

 

You know, the above is what counts.  

 

Does he have his own money or allowance?  My own kids do, and I find it is a way I can stay true to what I believe, while still giving them some freedom to explore.  You want another video game or a DVD?  sure, buy it.

 

I also ask the kids before I go food shopping if they want anything.  They usually tell me one or two things (often junk - but I will sometimes specify one thing has to be healthy)  maybe for your son that is fake Maple syrup?

 

 

 



 

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#4 of 21 Old 11-13-2011, 04:50 PM
 
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Anyone else with kids doing similar things? 

 

Tell me about your kids' struggles with this!  Tell me every kid is having this same conversation with his parents!


You are not alone!

A few years ago I complained in a MDC thread that my son found my homemade muffins, made with spelt flour and sweetened without sugar embarrassing and also asked for "normal" muffins made with sugar for his school lunches. I finally compromised by putting store bought muffins, granola or cookies in his lunch. If possible I get organic. If not, I still insist they not have any chemicals, corn syrup or anything else really bad. Since the past year there have been a few other kids at school who also bring organic so he is slowly accepting it. Another thing is now that he is 13 he notices a difference in his skin when he eats sugar and junk, so is starting to want less bad food for this reason.

I also gave in and let him get a horrible video game called "Call of Duty" because all his friends had it and he was just going over to their house to play anyway.

I won't give in to MacDonald’s! I showed him the movies "Supersize me" and "Food Inc" so he does not want to go to these places anyway.

I try my best to teach my son not to be so concerned with fitting in, and that people who do interesting things in life were not concerned with fitting in, but I guess at 10,11, 12 or 13 that is just what most kids want to do

 

 

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#5 of 21 Old 11-13-2011, 04:52 PM
 
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I used to BE that kid. My mom sent me to school with weird food for lunch like cheese and sprouts on rye, when other kids (no kidding) were eating nutella on white bread with sprinkles (SPRINKLES!!!). I was the only kid in class that drank white milk everyday instead of chocolate, and boy was I in trouble when my mom found out that I had been trading my oranges for Oreos in grade three. I got made fun of for not having brand name clothes and other silly things. At the time I sometimes wished to be normal, but often even then I would realize that I didn't want to be friends with people that cared about that kind of stuff. And now as an adult, I am glad that my parents raised me to be a conscientious consumer, because even though I didn't always 'get it' as a kid, I do now, and I am a healthier and better citizen of the earth for it.

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#6 of 21 Old 11-13-2011, 05:20 PM
 
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This really isn't unusual for the age. 11,12,13... those middle school years, kids really want to blend in. Being the same makes them feel safe. Unfortunately, there is a little truth to this. Wearing the Abercrombie hoodie is armor during these years. My eldest went through it in 6th and 7th grade. My youngest started about 10 and while I can see it fading, he still puts effort into "being the same" at school now that he's 11. I just rolled my eyes internally and decided what areas were negotiable. Giving in little areas (like buying the pre-packaged, individual snack packs) that didn't matter so much allowed us to keep our bigger values (like being vegetarian) intact and unchallenged.

 

What also helps is to have activities that connect your kids to others who share their interests. Interest based friends really don't care if your mom puts the laundry on the line or doesn't let you watch TV. That gives them a little break from the school and often neighborhood pressures to be the same. I 

 

I'd just chalk this up to your DS's age and not look at it as something that is going to escalate as he ages. I encourage you to consider what he's asking and decide if there are any areas you are willing to compromise on. Giving in a little now can help him ride this particularly difficult age out more comfortably. 


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#7 of 21 Old 11-13-2011, 05:24 PM
 
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My oldest is also 11, and while he's not hung up on "normalcy" as it pertains to other kids, he is perpetually bummed that we don't have more, uhmm, disposable income--or rather, the things he's bummed about pretty much all trace back to that.  I hear things like "I wish we could travel more"  "I wish we could see our friends [who live far away] more" "I wish we could go to the mall/get a pet/go have breakfast out"  For example, I can't afford to give him an allowance. We unschool, so he's got a LOT of freedom in some respects, but not in others.  

 

It's at least good to hear that other 11 yr olds complain often!  I think there's something about this age where there's a broadening of perspective, where kids start to be more aware of the differences in their lives when compared to their peers, television kids, etc.  Perhaps they're realizing that with every choice they (and we as their parents) make, that there's something else they're "saying no to"--something they're missing out on.  Which is different than feeling like the world is at your fingertips and anything's possible in the next moment...that magical thinking of younger kids, yk?  

 

I'm just musing here. 

 

But yes, I think it will help to explain why you make certain choices (health, cost, etc)--but the trick is to do it in such a way where you're not also downtalking the families of his friends!  That's a tightrope I've been walking for quite some time with my older kids, heh--with both friends and family.  Try to let him know that these are your feelings on the matter, and that you are not against him developing his own opinions/feelings....that you are willing to be flexible about things to a certain extent.  (assuming that you are, of course! wink1.gif)  I think it's good to allow kids the opportunity to find out for themselves why something is or isn't on your "good list", so to speak--and of course they won't really have a clue about it if they're never allowed to experience that thing.  

 

For example, the junk food--I won't buy certain things because they are unhealthy AND expensive, but if he really wants a particular food, I might let him buy his own when he has his own money--or "earn it" with chores, etc.  As for the laundry on the line, I'd talk about my values  WRT the environment, and why I think it's something to be proud of instead of embarrassed of.  Ask him why it's embarrassing to him--he might have a really unexpected answer!  

 

Such hard work, parenting is...!  It doesn't actually get easier as they get older--if anything I think it's more complex.  good luck!


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#8 of 21 Old 11-14-2011, 04:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well thanks for the different takes on this. 

 

It's interesting, Krystal323, that you raise the issue of disposable income.  We are perfectly comfortable financially but live in an (overly) affluent community so what he sees is far "better" than what we have even though we have everything we need.  He has the brands and whatnot since he has so few clothes I don't mind spending $40 on a $20 sweatshirt that has the under armour logo.  We do travel but we do so by camping rather than hoteling.  His passport is well stamped but he hates the traveling (so he says) because we fly stand-by (Cheap but time consuming and uncertain as to where we'll go!) and bring a tent to stay in.  It is true that his friends have well stamped passports and stay in resorts and hotels but we get a different experience by staying closer to the elements. winky.gif  So everything he has/does is "bad" or inferior.  That may be hard for him to verbalize whereas saying "I want normal milk from the grocery store not from the cows" is easier to see and understand.

 

I hope whatsnextmom is right in that this is his age and not something that will increase as he ages.  I do also need to be more flexible.  He is allowed to spend some of his money on junk food (lemonade from the soda aisle, oreos, gatorade, etc) but it drives me crazy to go to the store with him and watch him blow $20 on things that I pay extra to avoid. 

 

We are currently planning a two week trip to the spanish VI and he is so negative about it.  Just spend the money on cable tv.  Or stay for one week in a hotel (which still costs many times more than camping for two weeks).  Or, Just buy fake syrup that is much cheaper and use the difference for the hotel.  (which cracks me up but is smart!)  When we actually travel he has a good time unless I try to point that out and then he complains he is just making the best of a bad situation.  I want for him to enjoy life but on terms that feel  comfortable to me.  And I think the "comfortable to me" part is going to be the problem as he grows into his own person.


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#9 of 21 Old 11-14-2011, 10:57 AM
 
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We are currently planning a two week trip to the spanish VI and he is so negative about it.  Just spend the money on cable tv.  Or stay for one week in a hotel (which still costs many times more than camping for two weeks).  Or, Just buy fake syrup that is much cheaper and use the difference for the hotel.  (which cracks me up but is smart!)  When we actually travel he has a good time unless I try to point that out and then he complains he is just making the best of a bad situation.  I want for him to enjoy life but on terms that feel  comfortable to me.  And I think the "comfortable to me" part is going to be the problem as he grows into his own person.


Yes, the "comfortable to me" part is going to be super hard as he gets older.  Especially since as he gets older he will get to decide whether or not he wants to go with you (when he's over 18 that is), and once he gets much older he will choose how to vacation with his family. 

 

OR - he could be complaining now, and then choose to travel exactly the same way when he's older!  My brothers and I always complained about how we traveled as kids (constantly on the go, never staying in one place for long, no time to relax just go go go) - and now we all choose the same travel style as adults because its more fun, and we get to see more stuff.  It's just better we think.

 

So, just be you and go about your ways, and tell your kids that when they grow up they will be able to make their own choices about how to parent and vacation and eat.

 

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#10 of 21 Old 11-14-2011, 11:27 AM
 
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Oh geez, I grew up wishing we were normal.  I thought eating food that could be cooked completely in a microwaves was AWESOME!  Until my mom bought me some to shut me up.  Holy gross!   Also my mom allowed me to have friends over for dinner a few times and their reaction to our food was priceless, homemade tortillas and tamales with rice and beans they thought they were at a restaruant!  They couldn't believe my mom made food like that all the time.  We weren't allowed TV, just movies on the weekends but only as a family.  I do recall a friend asking my mom why we didn't have satelite and my mom told her that in lieu of TV we did other things during the week that we probably wouldn't do if we had all those shows to watch.  And it was true.  The holidays we spent time sewing and making things or visiting friends and family.  Seasonally we had things to do! Come on grow in the NW and you'll always find some way to spend your day that doesn't include being glued to the TV.

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#11 of 21 Old 11-14-2011, 12:04 PM
 
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 My brothers and I always complained about how we traveled as kids (constantly on the go, never staying in one place for long, no time to relax just go go go) - and now we all choose the same travel style as adults because its more fun, and we get to see more stuff. 

 



Yes, I was embarrassed with choices my family made as a child and now I look back so grateful with how I was raised. We raise our kids very much like my parents raised me. My kids go along with us much more easily than we did I think because we are more open with our kids about the "why" in our choices.

 

Your travel comment made me laugh because my brother and I were always so annoyed at how we traveled as a family. We did a lot of driving and camping. It could be exhausting (driving for 12 hours, setting up to camp for one night and then packing it all away in the morning for another 10 hour drive lol.) We only did a handful of "airplane/hotel" trips. I don't know that it ever occured to me back then that there were financial reasons for not staying in hotels every night! Then, I met DH who had never been ANYWHERE. His mom refused to camp and they couldn't afford big vacations so they did nothing! I really appreciated my parents after that and we've been having a great time hitting all the national parks that my DH and now the kids have never seen...... though, we don't mirror my father in the marathon drives and when we are only staying a night, we go to a cheap hotel and save the camping for the final destination lol.)


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#12 of 21 Old 11-15-2011, 10:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mumm View Post

This seems to be what I hear over and over from my 11 year old son.  "Why can't you just buy fake syrup.  This stuff come from trees and is gross."  "Why can't you just get all the tv channels.  Other kids watch whatever they want."  "It's so embarrassing when the clothes are on the line.  Just use the dryer." "Call john's mom and find out what the stuff she feeds me is and buy that."   "Why can't we be normal?  I just want to be normal!"

 

Whenever my kids say something like "why can't you be normal?"  I always respond with "because then I won't win weirdest mother of the year award!"  They take it in stride. 

 

He is a popular kid in that he never lacks for someone to play with (part because of his personality, part because of living in a neighborhood with lots of boys his age), is given a fair bit of freedom in regards to playing out and about without needing to check in and is allowed to stay home without supervision.  

 

You know, the above is what counts.  

 

Does he have his own money or allowance?  My own kids do, and I find it is a way I can stay true to what I believe, while still giving them some freedom to explore.  You want another video game or a DVD?  sure, buy it.

 

I also ask the kids before I go food shopping if they want anything.  They usually tell me one or two things (often junk - but I will sometimes specify one thing has to be healthy)  maybe for your son that is fake Maple syrup?

 

 


 



Excellent advice. A little flexibility, a little compromise, a little extending him some control...

 

I just wanted to mention about the cable t.v. My kids have been using the computer to access some of the mainstream network shows lately. I don't restrict their television viewing but they are often busy with other activities, miss an episode and want to catch up. I've been wondering whether to cancel or cutback on the t.v. in favour of internet access, but I haven't done the comparisons yet to see if we would save any costs. Anyway, if you don't object to particular shows, he may be able to watch without any need for you to sign up for cable. It may be a compromise that helps to reduce this one area of conflict between you both. 

 

 

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#13 of 21 Old 11-15-2011, 11:38 AM
 
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 I thought eating food that could be cooked completely in a microwaves was AWESOME!  Until my mom bought me some to shut me up.  Holy gross!  


 

I kinda think the syrup issue could be solved this way. winky.gif

 

We are a really mellow family. We do some natural family stuff, but not others, and I consider our relationships more important than any of my "ideals."  Part of what I bring to parenting is that I was raised by fundy Christians and my parents' religion control every aspect of our life, and therefore my life, when I was growing up. I left home while still in my teens partly because I hated hated hated being at home so much. My parents deep desire to control every aspect of my life so I would live *the way they thought was right* completely backfired -- I eventually told them to f*ck off. I still never ever go to church.

 

My point -- don't get so caught up in your ideals (which I do understand and support) that you forget that your son is a human being with his own ideals and views, who will eventually live his life the way he wants to and control how often you see him and his kids.

 

Has your son ever got to stay at a nice hotel? Does his school (or other group he is involved in) do trips? Could he go on one? Could you guys look for a getaway package/stay in the off season etc? Is there a middle ground somewhere? I do believe that when we treat our kids views, esp in the teen years, as valid as our own, we are more likely to figure something out that works for every one.

 

I think that parents who are too stuck in "this is how we live because we had a meeting before you were born and figured it all out" are less likely to end up with positive relationships with their kids as the kids get older. They make it too clear that to have life the way the kid wants it, they need to get far away from the parents.

 

I do think these issues are most intense around 11-13 and then fade. I also think that agreeing that we are weird, but pointing out that all the other families are weird in their own ways is a bit helpful.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#14 of 21 Old 11-15-2011, 12:02 PM
 
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 You raise very good points Linda on the Move. A good example would be the husband of a good friend of mine. He was raised by hippy parents as a vegetarian and as a result he hates, absolutely hates anything remotely crunchy.

 

I know another woman who was never allowed any types of sweets as a child and now has problems gorging herself with all kinds of sweets as a result.

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#15 of 21 Old 11-15-2011, 03:43 PM
 
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I really hear you on the food issue (and it is really nice to hear that other kids this age feel the same way). My 13 year old dd complains often that we eat "weird" food that none of her friends have to eat, and asks things like "Why can't we have normal peanut butter (bread, white rice, boxed mac & cheese...)?" We are pretty flexible and I do try to give her the kinds of things she prefers, and we also do what kathymuggle does - ask her when we go food shopping what she wants and let her pick a few things she likes). I struggle, though, because the more I give the more she seems to push until ALL she wants to eat is the less-healthy/conventional/processed stuff. I make sure she has healthy choices she likes, but lately she's often even foregoing those things and will just not eat if we don't have the junk she wants (or she will go scavenging for junk after telling me she's not hungry). I also try to cook with her often, and we've watched a lot of food documentaries and worked nutrition into her schoolwork curric so she knows *why* healthy foods are important to me ... but none of that seems to matter much when she's in thrall to the twin teen pressures that are "wanting to blend in" and "hormonally craving sweets and simple carbs."

 

Moderation is important to me because I was living proof of the too strict = bingeing later phenomenon. As a kid we never had "store-bought" treats or junk food. When I moved out on my own in college I ate junk for years straight. We're talking drawerfuls of candy and HoHos. I eventually leveled out and, obviously, now cook a healthy balanced diet at home, but I wanted to try to avoid that happening to my own kids.  I let her make some autonomous choices on less-healthy foods -- yet I still hear criticism from her all the time about how we are "such hippies" that it's cramping her style. I guess individuation will happen no matter what, and being unhappy or critical with home life is a pretty common marker of the early teen years. Doesn't make it any easier to hear or deal with.

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#16 of 21 Old 11-16-2011, 09:49 AM
 
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Teenagers are finding their own way in this life and ANYTHING either outside of the norm or that is not done by others is "weird", embarassing, and just plain unexceptable to teens.  They all dress alike, wear the same types of shoes and listen to whatever the "cool" kids listen to.  By nature they are followers, but will totally deny it.  

 

I've been told on numberous occasions to "act like the other moms" because I really love the motorcycle video game at the big rats house; can and will ride a skateboard; and often wear 6 inch heels.  My child would prefer some flats, and me sitting down somewhere and speaking like EVERYTHING in my life was sunshine and roses.  

 

Moral:  Just let your teen be a teen.  They'll complain about what you made to eat, moan about having to study; and find any reason to cry about how backwards you are.  JUST LET THEM!  Smile, as if agreeing with their complaints and go on doing what you were going to, or let them think your actions were their idea.  But, never let them forget who is in charge!

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#17 of 21 Old 11-16-2011, 09:56 AM
 
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Oh, what you buy is what is in the house - unless he chooses to take HIS money and buy what he wants.  If other people do it, that's great!  But YOU are the parent here and that means him having limits.

 

And ask him:  "Define normal".  Isn't it subjective?  DON'T BE HIS FRIEND!!!!!!!

 

P.S. my daughter stormed off and slammed her door on me ONCE, I took it off the hinges, put it in the basement and told her she had to earn her privacy back, because after all this is MY house and I choose to let her live in it.  

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#18 of 21 Old 11-16-2011, 11:11 AM
 
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this is MY house and I choose to let her live in it.  


Emphasis mine.

 

IMO that's an awful paradigm to raise your kids with.  Why not cooperation and mutual respect for each other as human beings?  Why not choices for the kids as well as the parents?  It's not like our kids are boarders we took in, or prisoners needing constant surveillance.  That's not the way I want to relate to my kids, even if it means there's some occasional door-slamming or complaining going on.  Kids are people--inexperienced, yes, but still people.  We should be helping them to process their feelings and preferences, not telling them to stuff it.


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#19 of 21 Old 11-16-2011, 11:44 AM
 
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Originally Posted by stefinMI View Post

 

P.S. my daughter stormed off and slammed her door on me ONCE, I took it off the hinges, put it in the basement and told her she had to earn her privacy back, because after all this is MY house and I choose to let her live in it.  


I think you'll find that you have a legal obligation to provide shelter to your non-adult child. It's not a choice, it's a responsibility.
 

 

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#20 of 21 Old 11-16-2011, 12:39 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stefinMI View Post
P.S. my daughter stormed off and slammed her door on me ONCE, I took it off the hinges, put it in the basement and told her she had to earn her privacy back, because after all this is MY house and I choose to let her live in it.  


Welcome to mothering.

 

This is a board for moms who practice GD. To me, denying my teen privacy wouldn't be gentle. I think that treating my DDs with respect, even when they are moody, is part of me behaving well. I think that by me behaving well, I'm modeling appropriate behavior to them.

 

I try not to yell, and to be respectful back. They aren't perfect, but they are good kids and they are doing their best.

 

 

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#21 of 21 Old 11-18-2011, 05:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My kid loves, loves, loves fake syrup!  He eats the leftovers of other kid's at school lunch!  puke.gifHe has stayed at very nice hotels and resorts.  He's done the whole disney sort of fake vacation things.  He skiis top mountains.  He deep sea fishes on beautiful boats.  But he can only see that we don't have an in home theater.  We don't even have a guest house for crying out loud! redface.gif  And, horror of horrors, his friends have actually seen me cleaning my own floors! blush.gif  (If he is home then chances are he has a kid or two with him.  I've got to clean sometime!)  Never mind the fact sometimes his friends step in chicken poop in our yard. 2whistle.gif

 

 He spends most of his disposable income on junk food (lemonade, gatorade, oreos, etc.)  BUT I give him grief on it all the time.  I guess I need to back off on that and just continue to serve what I serve and not comment on the rest of the junk.  (But his is extremely underweight and I do need to make sure he gets enough.) 

 

He knows he is normal, it is just the rest of us that aren't.  The fact we are a two mom family has yet to rear its "different" head but I know that is coming soon also.

 

StefanMI- I understand where you are coming from on the slamming door thing.  After repeated slammings by my 8 year old (to the point of damaging the door frame) my daughter was given the ultimatum of using the door properly or losing it.  She lost it.  I framed it not as a respect for me issue, but a respect for the house and our property.  We just built our house a few years back, she lived through the hell of it and managed to get it back quickly enough.  I know she hates the broken frame (which I will not repair until after she moves out!) but has never said a thing about it because she knows it was her fault.  I also see that you are new to MDC. Welcome.  This place can be quite harsh on parents who are not perfectly gentle and perfectly perfect all the time, but it is what it is and I've found it to be helpful to me on my (entirely unperfect) parenting journey.

 

I don't know that "normal" is entirely subjective.  I think it is just what he sees the majority of the time around him.  So what is normal here, might be very abnormal in another part of the US. 


Me.  With 1 spouse, 4 kids, 16 chickens, 74 matchbox cars, 968,562+ legos, a dishwasher waiting to be emptied, a washing machine waiting to be filled and a lost cup of tea in the house.

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