12.17.2014 08:57 AM

If you’ve never been hated by your child, you’ve never been a parent

So sayeth the great Bette Davis.

A music biz friend tells me he’s happy because only one of kids isn’t talking to him this Christmas; a law school friend tells me one of his kids refers to him as a well-known former German dictator. As such, I’m starting to get the sense I’m not alone on this one.

Anyone out there got stories you want to share, anonymously? If nothing else, we can all get together for a drink over the holidays and share some Rodney Dangerfield jokes about parenting (viz. “I could tell my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.”)


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    JH says:

    Here’s one WK. Our adopted 17 YO soon to be 18 daughter was not abiding by the curfew we set. She had also been overheard by mom, discussing with a friend on the phone, the amount of wine they were drinking and pot she was smoking. Now me, I found it hard to do much preaching having been your usual rowdy teenage boy, but the Real Boss of the household was upset. When an argument ensued, said Boss was reduced to tears and even more upset by daughter’s bad attitude and disrespect. Finally, I stepped in, and said either obey the RB’s rules or out. She packed and left – moving in, not with the boyfriend, but his parents, who felt they had to help. Within a month she was calling the RB begging to come home and agreeing to the household rules. I said no and refused to take her calls. Finally she wrote me a letter, apologizing profusely, promising to always respect her mother’s wishes and that she loved us.
    I relented of course. Today she’s in her 30’s and the finest young lady you could ever meet. We have a fantastic relationship, built on mutual love and respect and the RB and I couldn’t be prouder of her. As King Soloman was once told ‘this too shall pass’.
    Good luck and Merry Christmas.

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    Jack McLeod says:

    Your comment put me in mind of an exchange with my oldest son years ago. After i directed him to carry out the task I had in mind his mother coyly said to me. ” You could say Please.” I retorted, ” It wasn’t a request, it was an order.”
    Yes!! Fathers at times MUST be dictators!

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    Bobby says:

    Fathers always ALWAYS give in to daughters. Less so sons in our experience.
    Are you harder on your boys than on your daughter?

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    Peter says:

    In many cases of separation, especially if it occurred when the kid was a teen and even more so if new partners are in the mix, kids can have way too much psychological power unless the parents cooperate closely, which they often don’t, of course. They have to go through the adjustment at a hormonally confusing time, parenting becomes too self-conscious and boundary-averse, and one or both parents may start treating them as friends or confidantes, telegraphing their distress in some way and making them champions & protectors at much too young an age. To make matters worse, we live in an era where we (and courts) tend to view children as born without original sin with psyches as delicate as fresh eggshell and see all their failings and misbehaviours as problems the parents could solve if they were half-competent.

    Endless patience. Then more patience. Somehow, you have to try and become like one of those rare, beloved teachers we remember who combined strict, unapologetic, no-nonsense expectations with limitless commitment and a sense nothing was more important to them than us and our success. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to seek some professional guidance on strategy, but be careful and choose wisely. There are a lot of people in that business making a good living just regurgitating Oprahspeak.

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      Warren says:

      You are very wise. You also apparently know my life!

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        Peter says:

        One more thing. It’s a painful road with no promised outcome because you can’t control as much as you want to or even think you do. So keep fighting, but be good to yourself and your other beloved ones and keep the serenity prayer posted beside the bathroom mirror.

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    Kevin says:

    Bad time of year for something like that, but these things usually work themselves out. My father once told me he was amazed at how much his parents learned between his teen years and adulthood….

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    MC says:

    You said to be anonymous, but anyone who knows me will know. We’ve had some significant issues — the surprising ironic twist being, we have great kids who are talented and intelligent and good people; but that didn’t preclude them doing and saying things that got one of them kicked out of the house (I was unwilling to tolerate continued aggressive language and body language toward his mother), and another voluntarily leaving (several times). Fortunately, they are both home for Christmas. Unfortunately, that’s actually because one of them (now a married adult and parent herself) is living with us again.

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    Al in Cranbrook says:

    Pretty standard stuff when it comes to teenagers. Indeed, most of us probably remember times when we had somewhat low regard for our parents during those years.

    Now my two daughters are raising their own families, and going through many of the same trials, albeit the teenage stuff is still a few years down the road.

    I explain to them that, through all of those years bringing them up, I never fretted whether or not they loved me back, or even liked me, because I innately understood that over time all that would pass. My overriding concern was their welfare, and that they turned into as fine and decent people as I could possibly achieve. And that discipline is a very important part of parental love. The critical part about discipline is that it is firm, handled on the spot with clarity, and then left behind…no pouting or dragging it out for hours, or God forbid, days on end! On either’s part! And that discipline is balanced with praise and affection.

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      Al in Cranbrook says:

      A better word than praise is “affirmation”.

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    davie says:

    You might try the kids’ pals. Just small talk during which you mention what you want your kid to know. It will get to your kid. Just keep the lines open between you and your kid’s pal and the message will build up. Takes time, but it worked for us…sort of.

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    Chris Fleck says:

    Parenting – a contact sport.

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    Chris F. says:

    As Winston, I’m told, once said, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.”

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    Pipes says:

    Ya been there too. But this line from the Bible always brings me solace. I think it was a letter from St Paul to the Corinthians

    “Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.”

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    Steven says:

    My teens remind me regularly of my failings.

    Their sense of immortality doesn’t help with adjusting their perspective.

    As grim as it sounds, I sometimes think that a walk with teens through a children’s hospital or watching the latest newscasts out of Peshawar can bring some of that perspective.

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    Kaiser Helmets 'n Motorbikes says:

    Hang in there buddy, unconditional love can be a bear sometimes. Just keep reminding yourself what it means to commit to the unconditional.

    It’s not just the person you love who is set free. You are freed from the constraints of reciprocity, and that is an amazing gift in itself.

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    Bob says:

    My daughter was a pain from 14 to 19 – but this month, she came home from school, cleaned the kitchen and emptied the dishwasher without being asked.

    She sits with us after dinner to play cards and talk. She’s coming back!

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