Controlling, Meddling, Pushy Moms….Yeah, That’s Me

pushy mary momWhile unloading the dishwasher just moments ago I had a breakthrough realization. I suddenly understood something I’ve known all along about moms.

The truth is whether our child is 14 or 24,we are desperate for them to be happy. In fact, our own happiness depends on our children being happy. Most mothers find it almost impossible to be joyful if their children aren’t happy.

We also know part of being happy comes from choosing the right boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife or partner. If you, my beautiful daughter fall for a selfish mean spirited toad , things will not go well  for either of us. If you, my remarkable, handsome son decide to devote yourself to  a stupid and immature girl, we’ll both be unhappy.

Children, we want to help you pick a good one, a winner. We see your finest qualities and want someone who is just as smart,adorable and witty. We want you to have someone in your life who recognizes how amazing you are. And we can spot a good match for you, really we can.

But here’s the problem. You don’t want our help. For fifteen or twenty five years we’ve been picking out your clothes, your first car, your sports and your food. This time, you want to do it on your own cause your old enough to do that.

You think we’ve been controlling your life. We think we’ve been raising you and taking care of you. You think we are manipulative and meddling. We think we are being loving. We’re both right.

Moms, I’m speaking from experience with four kids.  If your daughter is talking to and leaning towards a wonderful A+ guy,  that’s 100 percent perfect for your girl you have to shut up or you will wreck it. If you suddenly start  campaigning for this great guy, if you try to push her into falling for Mr. Magnificent ,who’s obviously crazy for her……YOU WILL SINK YOUR OWN BOAT.

Your kid will suddenly slam on the brakes and pull back….. because he feels like you are trying to control his world again. He wants to make this decision on his own.  Your motivation doesn’t matter. If you push, you’re child will pull back.

SO STOP IT!  You can express your opinion one time, but that’s it, unless your son or daughter asks.

We love our children so much we accidently ruin their shot at happiness. I’ve done it to Jack, Mary and Lexie. Sandor is only 12 so I’ve still got time, but I’m sure I’ll screw something up. Seriously, I fight the urge every week with one of my kids. I always want to tell them, 1. “You can do better”(not recently, I promise) or 2. “Oh my Lord, this person is perfect for you.”

Moms of the world, if love is meant to be, love will grow on it’s own, naturally, without our constant weeding, pruning, fertilizing and watering. And the sooner you back off the faster love will grow.

Sometimes Moms, we have to sit down, shut up and have a little faith if we really want to help our kids. It’s so dumb and painful….but it’s true. Maybe we just need to figure out a way to be sneakier?



Let Your Daughter Date When She’s Young! It’s a Good Thing, I Swear

handsthis is by request, a reprint from 2010.

LET YOUR DAUGHTER DATE WHEN SHE IS YOUNG. Yeah, that’s what I said. You should let your daughter “date” when she is in 6th or 7th grade.

I hear you yelling at me, “Woman, are you out of your mind?”
Before you stop reading , let me state my case and define dating. I don’t think you should allow your 13 year old to jump in a Chevy van with shag carpet and drive off with a 16 year old boy.

You should however let your 12 year old have a “boyfriend” And here’s what they will do.

1. Talk at school

2. Text and chat (Notice: you pay for her phone you can always pick it up and see what’s on it. Always.  This is not negotiable.)

3.On the weekends you might take the boy with you to eat pizza or go to the mall. And if you are pretty trusting you might allow them to go to the skating rink or bowling alley, alone, during the day for an hour and a half. While they are skating they might hold hands, they will hug and they might kiss. But not much more will happen because they are in a bowling alley waiting for you to return.. And while all this talking and hand holding hands is going on your daughter, will learn so many valuable first boy lessons. And after two or three weeks they will break up.

As a result of the breakup the most important lesson your daughter will learn is….there are lots of boys in the world so breaking up isn’t such a big deal.

My youngest daughter,  knew a lot about guys when she was in 6th grade. She knew how to break up with a guy in person and in a nice way. She figured out  guys don’t like girls who get crazy obsessed. They like girls with a life, interests and self esteem.
And she knew you shouldn’t have to choose between friends and boy friends and if a guy really liked you he would be ok with her having a live. If he’s an actual good guy he won’t ask or demand that you to quite things you love like the band, volleyball or the poetry club.

My oldest daughter, Mary, never had a boyfriend in Jr. High or High School. She was the perfect daughter and perfect student, but we discouraged the entire idea of boys. Then, when she was 18 years old and had a full scholarship to a university in St. Louis, Mary fell in love with Billy the semi-pro hockey player who’s e-mail address was “toker69”.

Ten years ago my oldest daughter, Mary, got in huge trouble at the age of 18 cause she never learned “boy lessons”. As a result, her first boyfriend, at eighteen, had an email address of “toker69@” and she fell like a 12 year old girl, she fell like Romeo and Juliet. After a stellar high school career and  getting lots of scholarships she announced, as I placed the Thanksgiving turkey on the table, that she was leaving school for a year to be with this stoned hockey player She used all the classic first love lines like, “Nobody understands us.” “We’ll prove everyone wrong.”. “I’ll never love anyone else.” It was so gross and shattered our family.

Mary didn’t’ want to hurt me or our family, her heart was just in charge and she didn’t have any prior love experience.. Unfortunately, because she was eighteen I couldn’t save her. I could cry and beg and holler, but in the end, that’s all I could do.
Mary’s pre-teen heart was completely overriding her magnificent, full scholarship, med-school brain.
It’s a messy and complicated story, and I’ll tell you Mary is great now so you don’t have to worry.. She dumped “toker69” after 9 months, got back into school and is much much wiser now. But here’s what I believe, If Mary had when she was young she wouldn’t have been hopelessly naïve about young men and love.
If she had dated a boy when she was thirteen, if I let her hang out at the bowling alley with her 115 pound 8th grade boy friend, Mary would have learned that

  1. boys rarely respect girls who give up their independence.
    2.  boys, will sometimes say anything to make you love them.
    3.  boys are going to fall in love with her . So she didn’t have to say yes to the first one.

And here’s the real kicker, it doesn’t matter if you “forbid” your daughter to have a boyfriend. If she likes a cute guy with swoopyhair and he likes her she will have a boy friend. You just won’t know about it. And every time you drop her off at the movies or the bowling ally with a couple of girls, the boy will be waiting for her. And they will hold hands and kiss and she just won’t tell you about it.
You can’t stop love.
What’s better knowing who the boy is, talking to him, and counseling your child or being in the dark and having your daughter keep secrets from you.
So, do yourself a favor. Let her have a boyfriend while you can control the situation, if she wants one. Even if you say “no” she’s still gonna have one at school. At least this way…you’re in control and can scare the Hell out of him if necessary.


Boyfriends With Tattoos

My best friend has a daughter. Her daughter, Sara, who is 18, beautiful, brilliant, in college and she has a new boy friend.

Last night I went to the house to meet this new fellow. I’ll call him Stu.

Well, there he was, very tall and stick like, with long black hair. He was wearing a pair of ragged dirty cut off jeans and a tee-shirt. Stu also  had a very handsome face and a whole lot of tattoos. And when I say a “whole lot” you need to trust my estimation. My son has eight or ten or twelve  and Stu had him beat. There was a massive word written in old English on his chest and then flurries of ink here and there. (However he did not have any on his neck or face).

My first impression wasn’t terrible.  But I was thinking, “Sara, you are so beautiful and smart. What the hell is wrong with you?”

Stu was kind of a handsome, grungy mess. But as we stood in the driveway, he slithered under my friends van and started removing her spare tire. I was stunned. First: He looked as though he knew what he was doing with the tools and spare and this is sometimes unusual for kids these days. Next: He was being really helpful though he and the girl had only been dating for a week or so. And he was actually helping the mom, rather than texting or playing video games. I was impressed.

Then we all went into the house and Stu did not disappear. After washing his hands, he hung out in the kitchen with the adults and talked. Stu with all his tattoes, was growing on me.

Truthfully, I was waiting for him to say something horribe or shocking, I figured he would drop the F bomb or say he respected Charles Manson or tell us all the things wrong with the United States.  He didn’t do any of that. He just flipped his long hair back and was pleasant. THEN, as we all left the house… Stu did the unthinkable, he held the door open for me.  Was it possible this hipster hobo fellow was actually a gentleman?

Needless to say I am a confirmed “Stu Fan”. But I am kind of sad because as a parent I’m so easily impressed.  Thirty years ago a boy who changed a tire, held the door open for a lady and talked to adults rather than playing WOW wasn’t unusual. Now, we are stunned and delighted by the simplist acts of civility.

Still, I’m so happy for my friend because, as any mom with a daughter will tell you. A good boyfriend is hard to find.

I have one additional note. Today, as I was leaving Wal-Mart I recognized a man I’ve  for years. He’s a very popular tattoo artist. I was walking in front of him then we started to chat. “Hey,” he said, “Just to give you the heads up, the slit in your skirt is probably a little more than you want.”

I reached behind to feel my skirt. Holy Cow, the slit was supposed to be three inches but it had torn so anybody walking behind me could easily see my pink and white stripped panties. I was horrified but laughed. “That’s not good, thanks so much for telling me.”

He shrugged, “Actually it was good, but I thought you should know.” So, the 40 year old tattoo guy flirted with me and saved the day. Not bad.