Last December (when I still gave a rat’s ass about many things), I wrote this blog post about my children being outperformed by hero children in the news.
Yesterday it got a comment from someone going by “naïve” who said, in part:
“I am astonished about how naive I am.... At this adult age, raising teenagers, I realize how unequipped I am. I cannot fathom the ideas they conjure up, because I never had them. My 20 year old son, when he was 14, started smoking pot. We got thru that ordeal but he still has no ambition and at 20, no ‘plan’ for a job or future. His younger sister (now 16) just last night snuck out of the house to ride around with friends. Is this the first time, or one of many? I can't be sure. What would possess her to do this? Again, I never had the inclination to do these things. I cannot out think them because these thoughts are not in my mind.... I certainly don't have a clue, and I realize I am not a good parent because of this. I need help.”
Wow. That’s a pretty tall order. If I had a cool made-for-TV nickname that hinted at an unearned PhD, like “Dr. Dan,” I’d just throw out some crap about “babies having babies” and then I’d tell you to buy my new book, Seven Stupid Things You Did to Pay for My Vacation Home. But, alas, I have no PhD. Hell, since I have to tell everybody in person every damn day, let me just remind all of you that I don’t even have a bachelor's degree. (And yet, they still let me teach college. Suckers!) So, given these qualifications, let’s see what I have to say.
Firstly, your Internet handle jives nicely with your opening declaration of naïveté. That means you’re a real straight shooter. And that’s nice.
Secondly, you say you got through your son’s recreational pot usage. That’s a nice accomplishment, and the mark of a good parent. As for his lack of ambition, most of that can probably be attributed to the fact that he’s 20. And not just 20, but 20 NOW, which means he was born in the 80s, and as anyone born in the 70s can tell you, kids born in the 80s have no idea how the real world works. (In fact, many of them think the phrase “real world” is the intellectual property of MTV.) All of my economics students last semester were from the late 80s and every single one of them had two questions: “Is the class curved?” and “Do you have another copy of the syllabus?” One of my fellow TAs had a student’s mother call the class’s professor to discuss her daughter’s grade. When everyone born in the 80s turns out to be such turds, you can’t be blamed for the turd-like things your son does.
Thirdly, your daughter is rebellious because she’s 16. You might not have snuck out for a joy ride at 16, but you were probably rebellious. Maybe try to channel her rebellion by loudly saying things like, “Nothing bugs me more than a cleaned room!” or “I look forward to doing the dishes every night and when I don’t get to do them I feel less happy.”
Fourthly, even if I’m way wrong and you’re completely to blame for your eldest son and your daughter, at least your youngest son has the advantage that you want to change.
Lastly, of course you have no clue; you’re a parent. Your job is to fake it for 18 years and then, like a good magician at the end of the night, not tell them how you did it.