My secret to perfect teenagers.

Syl - posted on 09/17/2013 ( 31 moms have responded )

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Blah. How depressing these stories are. I have a 16 and a 13 yo daughter, both straight A's, both behave, no issues at school, they play piano one plays flute and guitar and oboe and mallets the other plays clarinet, takes all AP classes.... They are goofy and happy, I don't have to worry about them, we don't have strict rules except do your homework first. We lie in a Hispanic community with drugs and lots of gang activity, my kids are clean. The older one serves on the committee of city parks and recreation.

I'm a single mom, got full custody of them in April of this year, before that, they had to endure a rude, emotionally bullying step mom and a dad who didn't care at all about them. They lived with them half time. My kids are still well adjusted, happy, healthy and they do the right things.

Wanna know my secret?

I was there for them. I didn't remarry (been divorced 10 years) I spend all my time with them, I know all their friends, they all come to my house, we share all activities, we talk all the time, I LISTEN, I want to know what's going on every day, I am involved with their school projects, I listen to their homework as they work on it, I play with them.... I made them priority. (I work full time and I don't get child support.) BE THERE for your kids. They will turn out just fine.

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Minna - posted on 09/22/2013

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It sounds like you did a lot right.
But most people [especially on this forum, it IS Circle of Moms] are there for their kids, listen to them, make them their whole' raison de'tre'.
I'm glad you have escaped so far bad luck, genetic tendencies, things outside your influence [and yes there are] that all have an impact.
I feel a little sad if you really know everything that's going on with your 16 year old, Kids at that age need a space that has nothing to do with you. I remember that I only wanted a back-up at that age, and my boys were the same.
In a few years they will be off .I'm facing that now. What will you do? I recommend Kayaking.
P.S. Blah,There are no perfect teenagers..

Jodi - posted on 09/18/2013

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Syl, if people arent' getting it it is because this is how they are perceiving your post:

"Blah. How depressing these stories are. I have a 16 and a 13 yo daughter, both straight A's, both behave, no issues at school, they play piano one plays flute and guitar and oboe and mallets the other plays clarinet, takes all AP classes....AND MY SHIT DON'T STINK.".

You started off in a condescending way by saying how depressing these stories were of these very normal mothers, probably from normal families, seeking help with their difficult teens and then proceeded to tell them all about your perfect children and how if they did what you did they wouldn't have their problem. Look at it through the eyes of one of those parents who has posted for advice and help. You don't think you come across as condescending? You have two parents of really great teenagers (and according to your definition, mine are perfect to me too, however, they are by no means perfect) who are saying you came across that way but WE are the ones who have it wrong?

Every single day I come home and am thankful and proud of the children I have. You have no idea. I teach teenagers and I can tell you, my children are an absolute blessing, and yes, part of that is my parenting. But a part of that has been because I could afford the schools they go to as well. As I said, I have seen teens from great homes get in with the wrong crowd and next thing you know, a great 16 year old is OD'ing on drugs in the bushes behind the school. It happens. Don't make parents feel bad because of that. Those parents need support and advice, not someone telling them what a shit job they did.

Jodi - posted on 09/18/2013

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There is no such thing as "perfect". I can see you have done a great job, and you should be very proud. But sometimes, it is those "little" imperfections that make our children who they are. Try not to put your children on a pedestal and call them "perfect" because it can actually put a lot of pressure on them to live up to that expectation, and when they suddenly do something that doesn't live up to that (and at some time in life most of us do), it will bring them down from a very high place. I have seen good kids (very good kids) tumble from that place because of this need to live up to their parents' expectations of "perfect" and it isn't pretty. And they come from backgrounds and parenting exactly as you describe. Putting a perfect label on your child also puts undue pressure on them to live up to it.

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Jodi - posted on 09/25/2013

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Syl, I am not sure what was ever angry or cocky about my responses. Truthful, yes, but angry and cocky are reactions you can't judge over the internet unless you are psychic. If you actually knew me, you would find I am one of the calmest people you ever met.

No skeletons in this closet either (that's an interesting accusation). I'm just not snotty over the way I raised my kids and I don't believe I'm better than others simply because they have so far turned out ok. It's not my style.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 09/23/2013

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No skeletons, here, sweetheart. My kids are older than yours, and (as I've stated) by YOUR definition, "perfect".

LOL..Fact of the matter is, (as I've also stated) I know that NO ONE is perfect. That's all ;-).

You're still missing the entire point that Jodi & I were trying to make. It wasn't that you were trying to advise that parents need to spend more time with their kids. We both agreed with you there. It was the absolute snotty tone that you used to do so.

Since you are still failing to see that point, I'm sure you'll lump this with the "angry, cocky responses". Well, sweetie, you reap what you sow. Your initial post was pretty damned cocky in itself, which prompted cocky responses!

Cheers! ;-)

Syl - posted on 09/23/2013

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Obviously the moral of the story is not intended for the parents who really thoroughly are there for their kids and still end up with a disaster. But it's a small percentage of people compared to the ones who have trouble because they did not do such a thorough job. A lot of these horror stories sound like the parents just had a wake up call. "Yeah everything was fine and then all of a sudden all hell broke loose, I don't know what came over my kid, HELP!" Well of course everything is fine, especially if you trust your kid to do whatever they want to do thinking they are great kids and you don't really pay attention anymore, thinking "well, they have been no trouble at all, so I can go ahead and channel my attention elsewhere." Parents, -adults- get caught up in all sorts of everyday stuff. Sort of like the song, "Cats in the cradle", listen to the lyrics, great message...! Doesn't mean they are BAD parents. Just means their attention shifts and then a small slip that could be fixed with a close knit relationship can easily turn into disaster with superficial attention. And THAT'S where I (and Evelyn and some others) did things differently. I made major life adjustments and sacrifices that most people just will not do, because it doesn't seem necessary at the time. I am not here to gloat and am expecting a pat on the back. It does feel great however when I hear a similar story with a similar payoff. Sure my kids can go bad, but will they? Very slim chance, realistically.
About making it into a failure... Minna's response indicated that I failed on SOME level because I happen to know "everything" about my kids. Again, "perfect" and "everything" can not be taken literally like some of you do and choose to respond to me with that notion in mind. It's not even realistic to have a worthy conversation if that's how you perceive my original post.
In any case, hope some people will find the message intended, and will chose to spend the evening with their kids instead of a bridge party, or a girl's night out, or a trip to Vegas with friends, or another Netflix movie that's not for the kids or a biweekly hairdresser or nail appointment or chatting with a girlfriend for hours on the phone or spending 2 hours on Facebook or.......... Insert whatever fits. And PLEASE don't come back with responses like "who are you to tell me how to run my life" because I'm not here to tell you that. YOU have the choice make choices. And you have to live with the consequences.
But I have a feeling that if I get an angry, cocky response like a few times before... That's probably some skeletons talking from the closet...:)

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 09/23/2013

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No one said you were a "failure", Syl, and I really laughed when I read how you twisted some of these responses.

All Jodi and I were saying is that NO ONE is perfect, and before you gloat over others (which is exactly how this post is reading to me) before your kids are grown, you may be inviting trouble. IE: You may end up finding that your eldest has gone ahead and had sex without your knowledge...

I'm not wishing that on you, but your kids are 16 & 13. There is plenty of room still for error.

Raven - posted on 09/22/2013

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The effort you put in especially when they're little, really pays off. They need boundaries. They want to know somebody cares. My oldest just went to college. We have always butted heads, but I can't tell you how many times, a month later, a year later, I get- "Thanks for making me do that mom. I did need calculus, he wasn't the right guy for me, I'm so glad I don't eat like that, the drunk kids are stupid." I even got- I should have recorded it- when she moved into her dorm- "thanks for always giving me a nice, clean home and being the way you and dad are, I feel loved and safe, I'm so glad you're not like these other moms, you wouldn't believe the stories mom." Lol
Good job Syl!

Minna - posted on 09/22/2013

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No failure, glad it's going well.
It's just that many people try as hard as you do, and still have heartbreak.
You and I have differences in our styles. My kids are doing well also [mostly]
I just thank God for my luck and keep my fingers crossed. And I never assume that someone else who is having trouble with their kids isn't as good of a mom as myself.

Syl - posted on 09/22/2013

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Exactly Evelyn! I know about my kids not because I'm nosy and controlling but because I have their full trust and they confide in me in nearly everything because they want to. I'm sure there are private stuff going on knowing they are 13 and 15, and I don't ask or force for information. But I do know where they are and who they are with and what they are doing, because they don't mind me knowing.
I wonder why some people insist on making what I consider a successful, wonderful, working, trusting, happy relationship between my children and I into a failure on some level..?

Minna - posted on 09/22/2013

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I am also a mom of teens . One is in collage out of town and one in high school. I listen of course, but I keep a loose rein on them, I don't think I know everything they do. Sometimes I'm appalled after the fact [naked parties in collage! The kid who swam in his shirt!] ,
If they're taking care of their business like gentleman, I don't intervene.
If something comes to my attention [and it does, parochial community of kids and parents] , I deal with it best I can. Think Gitmo.
Thing is , my oldest went out of state to collage a few days after he turned 18. First summer he lived off campus interning in a very dangerous part of city with a terrible murder rate.. He deals with it.
If I knew EVERYTHING i'd never sleep. I'm 52 years old and my mom still doesn't know EVERYTHING I did at 16. AS it should be.

Syl - posted on 09/20/2013

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Oh no, these choices aren't easy. But considering the alternative outcome... Those were the only choices to be made.
Just like you, they were my everything, no one and nothing could take or could have taken priority over them,
Everything in my life had to adjust to that. And what I've been trying to say in my earlier posts... A lot of people make the. easier choice.

Syl - posted on 09/20/2013

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Thank you for a really nice story. Lots of similarities. Of course they aren't perfect...; nobody is. I used a catchy title and it is in reference to the other stories here. I'm not "holding" anything "over others"except the fact that I can say I have rewarding children an I think it's because I made a choice to make them priority. I don't know this for sure but I'm guessing that the trouble other kids have is probably rooted in a form of lacking of parenting, to some degree. Unless there is some underlying psych problem which can throw in a wrench, for sure. My older one has anxiety issues but still manages to do great with love, lots of attention and support. Some people seem to disagree here with the above and that's fine, they are fully entitled to that. Its just my story,
my experience and my opinion. Sounds like the same approach paved the same road for you too. :)

Aileen J - posted on 09/20/2013

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You are blessed and I am happy for you I wish we were all so lucky try not to judge

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 09/18/2013

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Leave it Jodi, she's reading what she wants to, and completely missing either of our points.

You don't have time for that and neither do I.

Syl - posted on 09/18/2013

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Look. You seem to have a lot of time on your hands (over 21000 threads and posts?!?!?) which I do not. I'm done here, because I don't have time to pick apart your replies turn and twist every word and concept like you do. But most importantly I don't feel I should defend my opinion and views. If you don't like it, oh well. But i can tell you this: If my kid was found in a bush OD'd I consider it my personal failure and would take full responsibility instead of playing a "poor me, I have no idea how that could have happened" card. But I never even blamed any parent for anything, you put those words into my mouth to begin with. Just look back:)

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 09/18/2013

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Ah, but "messed up" teenagers CAN pull themselves out of it and become good adults, and "perfect" teens can go off the rails as soon as the leave, as Jodi pointed out.

I AM speaking of both my 16 yo and my adult son, both of whom are still (by your definition) "perfect". And I still am expecting some "issues" with the 16yo, simply because he IS 16. I'm not stupid. Been around this block a time or two.

So, yeah, I agree with Jodi. Don't sit that high horse until your kids are adults, and you can look back and say "Hell, I did great!"

Syl - posted on 09/18/2013

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If I compare my teenagers of the same age kids drinking, doing drugs and pregnant, then yes, so far, I am riding that horse. I may fall (willing to make very high bets against that though) and then it's a different story. But we weren't discussing our adult children here. I posted regarding messed up teenagers.

Jodi - posted on 09/18/2013

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No, you earn the right to your high horse when you have FINISHED raising your children, they are in their 20s and are normal functioning adults. Until then, anything goes. Sorry, but it does. I've seen good kids from good families go off the rails the minute they left home. So until you can say your children are healthy functioning adults contributing to society then sorry, your high horse is not yet earned.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 09/18/2013

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No, Syl, I GOT IT. And I don't disagree. HOWEVER, the entire tone of your posting was what I was addressing, which you seem to have missed.

and geez, lady, I never said you SHOULDN'T BE proud of your kids, or your accomplishments. As a matter of fact, I don't know a single parent who ISN'T proud of their kids when they have come through some tough shit and moved forward.

As I said, your comment from start to finish was extremely condescending. Hey, my kids are "perfect" according to your definition as well, have been through plenty of hardship with a disabled father, and me working 16 hours a day sometimes at 2 or 3 jobs to get our household through the tough times. I've had one kid in and out of the hospital since the time he was 16 months old, and yet he's still managed to graduate HS with good grades, is moving on to college, and has a great job that allows him to earn enough to actually live on his own (unlike some of these posts about adult kids living at home). I'm even MORE PROUD of the fact that their biological father and I have been married for 23 years this year, and together for 24. That doesn't mean that I'm going to go around the boards sitting on my (well deserved, tyvm) high horse and trying to make everyone else who ISN'T in as good a place as my family feel bad about their decisions.

But apparently you missed my point as well, my dear.

Syl - posted on 09/18/2013

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Here's one more that doesn't get it....
I don't remember saying I don't have dilemmas with my children. But that's not what we are talking about.
My condensed point is simply this (several people apparently keep missing it):

Your kids are highly unlikely to get into drugs, alcohol, bad buddies, stealing etc. if you choose to make them priorities and participate very extensively in their lives.
My family is a good example of this.
I described my situation, and yes, I am on a high horse. I am very proud of my kids and I take partial ownership of their accomplishments. We had it pretty rough for 10 years, with them having an abusive step mother half their time, yet they still pulled through with flying colors, mostly because I compensated on my time. I worked 5 12 hour night shifts back to back every other week for years, and two on alternating weeks traveling 150 miles each day, just so I can be there, and be just with them when they returned from their fathers
house. Chose not to date on my days off, to preserve that time too, to be there for them. So yeah, I made real sacrifices. And they paid off. I earned my high horse.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 09/18/2013

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Thanks Jodi, for the succinctly worded responses!

LOL...To be honest, Syl, I read the title, and thought "well, there's a woman who's on her high horse". Then I read your post and thought "Well, pin a rose on HER Nose...she's perfect"...LOL...In other words, yes, you came across as extremely condescending.

Even I, who have excellent kids, have posted here with dilemmas a time or two. Nothing on the way horrible side of things, but still, everyone is going to have at least one problem with their kids during the raising of them.

Syl - posted on 09/18/2013

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I sympathize with these parents as well. I imagine every scenario I read about and cringe thinking what if I had to deal with something like that. But I don't, and I feel fortunate. I shared my story because I do think the way I parented made a huge difference. Apart from the statement being more of a literary license, which you took way too literally, my kids are perfect to ME. What I did worked for ME. That's MY secret, my method. I shared it, people can take it or leave it. And no, I won't tiptoe around and try to be "politically correct"; we are parents, which means we are adults and should be able to handle my comment just fine. If someone has hurt feelings or feeling guilty over reading something like that, well.... It is possible there is a reason behind that and hopefully the realization will help at least a little to identify and correct issues. Your role of standing by with a box of tissue is also needed, it's just not my style.

Jodi - posted on 09/18/2013

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Oh, I totally agree with you. I was simply pointing out that perhaps using the term "perfect" was not quite the right thing to say. The way you came across could make parents who have made every effort possible feel inadequate and downtrodden.

Many parents work overtime just to survive. They don't need someone making them feel bad for it. Many parents remarry wonderful partners who are wonderful to their children, they don't need to feel that it was a bad choice. Many parents are great parents and do all the things you have outlined that you do and yet their children still make poor choices such as drugs and alcohol, or end up pregnant at 16.

While your post is right, you do need to be there for your kids, listen to them, support them and so on, it also came across as just a little condescending, particularly to those mothers who HAVE posted here seeking help for their child who has lost their way (and no, I am not one of them, but I sympathise with them because I work with teens every day, and it isn't quite as cut and dried as you have made it seem).

Syl - posted on 09/18/2013

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I think you missed the reference in the title of my post. My kids are real people and as such, of course they aren't perfect. The point of my post was to illustrate a contrast to the many cases posted where the moms are wondering why their kids are failing school, stealing, doing drugs, dating losers, etc.
My kids are full of "little imperfections" as we all are, and I adore and embrace those. But they are dream teenagers compared to the disasters I am reading about in these posts. Hence was the title.
And yes, I proudly take credit for the way they turned out, not because I am a snooty mom who pushes her kids to achieve but because they achieve effortlessly and without pressure, because I was there as support and I made them absolute priority. I did NOT have expectations of what they did and are now, they became who they are because they wanted to.
With all that said, I expected a post like yours, and it doesn't surprise me. It is a very unusual case and I realize how the only logical explanation may seem to be what you're trying to say; fake success bound to break. But it simply isn't the case.
Perhaps it isn't a universal recipe for all the kids and parents out there.... But think about it: people with a strong, healthy, close relationship with their children are more likely to have a close friendship and healthy family dynamics as they become teenagers and beyond. It's really very simple. So again, BE THERE for them. Make THEM priority. In this society we will shove our kids into daycare so we can work overtime, we will exile them away from our rooms, seat them in front of mindless television programs just so we don't have to deal with them.... Then we wonder why they abandon us. It's tragic, really. But that's how western society thinks.

Christine - posted on 09/17/2013

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Thank you for your story! Yes, I can see how being with them and for them is so important!

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