Adolescents Who Hurt Their Parents

SALON Table Talk Mothers Who Think

    Leaving home

Dawn A. MacKeen - 11:52am Sep 5, 1997 PST
Assistant editor, Salon

In Sandi Shelton's article, "Two Weeks Until College," she writes about her daughter leaving home. Was there a painful period before you or your kids left home for the first time?

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(1 previous messages)
April Romo de Vivar - 12:12pm Sep 8, 1997 PST (#2 of 7)
I Use Clay to Pay the Rent

"Like Water for Chocolate". One child is designated to stay with the family, to sacrifice some life choices for obedience.

They feel betrayed and the child feels betrayed.

Letting the children go, off to school, off to their own apartment, out of town after marriage or for is a jumble of feelings and not all of them noble ones.

Chrispy Page - 05:18pm Sep 8, 1997 PST (#3 of 7)
every day I write the book.

My family is going through that painful "distance" with me. I am about to begin my second year of college, and I'm still as distant as ever. I can see it happening: my oarents can't connect with me on any level, I am always annoyed at any strained attempts to have a conversation with me (unless it is on my terms), and I feel a closer love between my friends and I than with the family.

I see these things going on, and yet I can't change, for the life of me!

My first assumption would be to chalk it up to the fact that I've been sheltered for my entire life, and now I feel like it is time to be truely independant. I'd love to move out. I'd kill for my own apartment. But I simply can't while also trying to go to school, for financial as well as emotional reasons. Yes, emotional. I do need my folks. Just not in the same way I used to.

Gone is your little son who sat on the arm of your chair and read storybooks. I am now a man, and I need to find my own chair to sit in.

I guess that's my reason.

Richard Geib - 05:20pm Sep 8, 1997 PST (#4 of 7)
I'm sorry. Did I say that out loud?

I kept on saying, "I'm outta here!" when I was 18 and ready to go away to college. I was also somewhat of a snit to my parents (if never rude). Yet this had nothing to do with my parents who did a great job in raising me but everything to do with me. I understand this now as an adult. It reminds me of Twain's quote: "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years!"

I am a high school and middle school teacher. It took me years to be able to say with a smile on my face, "Sure! Teenagers are naturally anti-social creatures!" I had to toughen up and be firm, put up with no BS, and still keep myself open to their dark grief, hormonal confusions, and tender vulnerability. But I truly think in my heart of hearts, if you are patient and consistent in who you are with them, teenagers will come back to you in an adult manner and then your relationship with him or her will be cemented forever.

Teenagers would like you to think they are so "adult" and do not need you in their lives. They need adults in their lives more than ever, in my opinion. In my experience, the teenagers most at risk are those who are being raised by others (gangsters, etc.) who are only teenagers or little older themselves. They lack a true and stable adult presence in their lives and it shows. Teenagers don't want to be "friends" with adults (they already have their friends). But they do want guidance and support from you (even if they will never thank you for it).

I enjoy this "Mothers Who Think" column greatly (even though I am a man). This particular article by Sandi Shelton, in particular, struck me as having the ring of truth.

I will never again sit at the side of my father and read storybooks. I am now a man, and I have my own chair to sit in. But whenever I am with my father (or think of my recently deceased mother), I do them honor knowing that so much of who I am today I owe to them. I had to become an adult to recognize that. Conversely, I still to this day regret the moments I mindlessly was a snit to them in haughty adolescence.

Tracey Henley - 09:35am Sep 9, 1997 PST (#5 of 7)
EVERYONE is entitled to my opinion

But Richard, they know, they understand and they forgive.

Marsha Meeks - 01:18pm Sep 9, 1997 PST (#6 of 7)

I took my daughter to the dorm for freshman orientation. She would be gone a week and meet her new roommate. She was only 50 miles away.

I drove home with waves of saddness washing over me. It's only 50 miles away, I told myself. Get a grip! She'll be back in a week!

By the time I made it home I felt like she had died. I walked into the house, and the sight of her shoes, abandonned by the door, made hot tears spring into my eyes.

I spent a few futile moments trying to talk myself out of weeping from the horrible pangs of grief that engulfed me as I wandered through the empty silent house. Then I decided: okay, if I'm going to feel this, I might as well go all the way. I got down her baby book, her box of school papers, and I surrounded myself with Jennifer and a box of tissues.

After less than 15 minutes, instead of crying, I found myself laughing at the precious stories of "Edna the Beautiful Qeen" that she had written in the third grade. Soon I was downright cheerful, thankful to God that He had given me such a wonderful daughter - and that she wasn't dead, only 50 miles away at freshman orientation.

The next day, I went to the grocery store and bought a piece of $8.00 a pound brie cheese and some Godhiva chocolates. They would stay put until I and only I ate them. This living alone did have its upsides, I was beginning to realize.

That night, barely 24 hours after I had deposited Jennifer at the dorm, I was startled to have her walk in the front door, with 3 other girls in tow. "We didn't like the dorm food," she explained. A moment later: "Hey, do you guys like brie cheese?! And chocolate!"

That was 8 years ago. Though she's out of my daily life and on her own, my life is still connected to my daughter. And if it ever gets too bad, I remember about that box of stories and pictures, just waiting to cheer me up.

April Romo de Vivar - 11:03pm Sep 9, 1997 PST (#7 of 7)
I Use Clay to Pay the Rent

I had to get angry at my parents as a teen, to be able to pull away. Couldn't think of another way to do it.

I've since apologized. I like them now. Don't Adore my dad, but love him. Mom is the same as always.

What I like is the kids, mine are old now( twenties), sending me e-mail that starts, Mommy........I crack up. They do it on purpose, to make me miss them forever......

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