Sunday, April 28, 2013

Yes offense

Right now, I need to vent. Sorry if this catches any of you off guard, but there is some stuff I need to say. I'm addressing it to some of you out there but I won't name names. If you feel stung by this venting, then I apologize. No. I don't. I mean what I am about to say.

You are a horrible parent.

Sure, you might be a great person. Sure, you might provide for your family. You might play board games and buy healthful food. But you are horrible because you do one thing that isn't right, fair or good. You make me into the bad guy.

My child came to me this afternoon and asked if I would let her go to an event tonight. I listened and quizzed her on all the necessary things. First, she told me she would be back by midnight. No, I said. That's too late on a school night. I forced her to make sure she had a ride there and back, as provided by an adult, not some teenager who would be filling up the car with friends, blasting the music and driving at 11:30 in an unfamiliar place. Her clothes have to be reasonable and so on. I went down the list of proper obstacles for a responsible parent to set up. Rides were secured. Other local people were going. They would be back by 11PM. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Then I asked "who is throwing this event?" No answer. "Are there going to be adults there monitoring the event?" No answer. "Is there an organization, or people I can call if I have questions? What about if someone gets hurt? Will anyone be stopping some random teenager from bringing alcohol and passing it around? And cigarettes? Or drugs?" No answer, no answer and, you guessed it, no answer. Well, there was a response -- lots of them. They included "but so-and-so is going!" and "This is a known thing -- the town does this every year" and "no one knows a name but they are all ok with it -- there will be families and little kids there and everything." Apparently no one knows who is running it. No one knows anything. Parents everywhere are sending their children off to god knows where to do god knows what and I'm the bad guy when I say "no." How dare all of you not check? How can you send your kids off without asking the questions and being strong enough to demand answers?

So this became a big investigation (though I must say, the child handled my "no" well - she didn't complain but worked harder at getting the necessary information) and by the end of it, I spoke to the police involved and got the answers that, though they don't thrill me at least satisfied me to a minimum level. So ultimately, she is going, but only because we dug and dug and she knew that she wouldn't get what she wanted until we were somewhat informed. But who else said "no" until basic questions were answered? Apparently no one. No one reported that there was a website, or a flyer indicating who is sponsoring it. No one passed around phone numbers for contacts. It is as if everyone just took everyone else's word for it. And what do the kids learn? All the wrong lessons. Except mine, I hope. She learns that "yes" isn't free and that planning is necessary. She learned (I hope) that being responsible isn't optional. I hope she passes that along to some of the other parents who could use the reminder.


  1. And I thought I was the only bad parent who plays 20 questions (or 30 or 40) every time my teenage children want to go out to an event! But Abba, don't you trust me? My answer, thank you President Reagan, trust but verify.

  2. Being responsible isn't optional and yes isn't free - well put.

    Great piece. Sometimes when things are complicated and/or difficult people look the other way and pretend things are simple and easy. Parenting may be one such example.


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