Sometimes I Despair of the Foolishness: A Mother’s Rant

brick wall

Heroes, I read a quote on Facebook the other day that said something to the effect of “parenting is hard when you’re doing it right.”

Well, if that’s the case then I must be awfully close to perfect. Because, wow. There are days I feel like all I do is beat my head against brick walls.

Over. And over. And over again.

Take bedtime for example. We have a habit of family prayer time, and the expectation is that boys will then shut off their computers, brush teeth (thoroughly!), and go to bed.

Instead, people (and by “people” I am mainly referring to “teens”) go back and play on the computer! No brushing of teeth, and no going to bed. Then, after I encourage them to do what they know they were supposed to be doing all this time, at least one of them will show up in the kitchen to get something to eat. A natural result of this chain of events is a boy (or two) staying up even later and then taking even more time with tooth brushing before he goes to bed. Oh, and there are also the oh-so-frequent late-night showers. This happens pretty much daily.

And for bonus points, one of them will start a load of laundry at midnight. I can say this because he did exactly that this very night.

Why doesn’t it matter that we’ve been 100% clear about what we want them to do? I truly don’t understand that.

I am a person who is wired to follow rules and please superiors, so sticking to the rules and meeting my parents’ expectations was my usual way of behaving. The fact that my boys just blatantly refuse to honor their parents’ wishes makes no sense to me. It’s just not my language.

And by the way. I was a good girl. My parents didn’t ever feel the need to issue the Parent’s Curse (May you grow up to have children who are just as difficult as you are!). So why am I the one who ends up fighting with all this nonsense?? It’s not fair!

After so many years of asking, expecting, demanding, and being let down I’m really just feeling sick and tired of the whole thing. I spoke to each of them tonight about it, but don’t really see any resolution. I don’t even see a willingness to change what they’re doing.

So….what? Do I just wait for them to turn 18 and give up on the whole thing? We’re expecting that they’ll live with us for a few years after high school while they’re pursuing college degrees. Is it easier when they’re “adults”?

When my brother lived with my parents he was a complete and total slob. After he moved out, he became a neat freak. Is that what I can expect? To be disrespected and disregarded for the time they’re here?

A verse that we hold dear says “Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” I guess I should have taken the “old” part more seriously, because I’m really doubting that I’ll get to see those benefits any time soon.

It’s hard to combat the discouragement sometimes.

Image courtesy of jpott via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

The editor-in-chief of Earnest Parenting, Amy is the mother of two sets of twin boys. Yes, they drive her crazy, but they also make her laugh occasionally. Amy enjoys writing, quilting, reading, and working on her burgeoning cyber empire.

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  • Corinne Edwards March 31, 2015, 8:44 am

    Dear Amy –

    As you know, I also raised four boys You will be guaranteed a crown in Heaven.

    This behavior feels very familiar to me. But nothing serious.

    I didn’t notice any references to drugs, sex and rock and roll. No DUIs, no problems with the police. Your complaints sound like pretty normal teen age behavior.

    Not easy, but I assure you, it will pass.

    I am now a widow and my boys don’t know what to do to help me first.

    They call every day, come over and do chores, shopping and have all become very successful.

    They pay my mortgage every month.

    The only real remedy for this phase is to run away from home and come back when they are in their twenties.

    Boys are very attached to their mothers. It is an unbreakable bond. You will see. They will remember all you have done for them.

    Concentrate on the good in them. If you search your mind, you will find some.

    In the meantime, is it possible you could cut them some slack?

    (Don’t hate me for that comment.)

    Reply
    • Amy LeForge April 6, 2015, 12:50 pm

      Corinne,

      I don’t hate you for the slack cutting comment! Never!

      I don’t think I’m too hard on them, really. You know how studies show that when communities police the little stuff (graffiti, broken tail lights, etc), then the bigger crimes don’t happen? That’s how we parent here. Both Hubby and I do our best to be extremely supportive and non-judgmental on the big issues. For example, TechnoBoy is an avid soccer player. We’ve made it clear to him-repeatedly-that whatever he wants to do with that in life is fine. Does he want to play pro? “Great!” Olympics? “Fantastic!” College? “Go for it!” Just for fun? “We’re totally in support of the idea of a lifetime sport. Maybe you’ll have fun coaching your own kids someday.”

      So, no pressure. The same is true with career, school choices, and so on. We do push for excellence in character of course. I think that’s a fair balance.

      Reply
  • Tracie Shroyer April 2, 2015, 8:42 am

    We also have two teenage boys, including one that lives in a dorm. I’ve realized that the less I try to control their lives, the more respect they give me and the more peace we have at home. For example, we stopped naming bedtime as a specific time when they were pretty young. Instead they have “bedroom” time where they have to be in their rooms for the evening. We don’t allow computers in their bedrooms so that limits them to homework, reading or other mostly quiet activities. We’ve found that they start going to bed on their own after the novelty wears off because they are tired. For some kids it might take longer. 😉

    The one who moved out this year to the dorm keeps his room surprisingly clean for a teenager and they both acknowledge that the prefer a cleaner room but it doesn’t bother them if it is messy. Boys have a different way of thinking about things. My husband is the same way as are most of my brothers in law. They know to keep things clean when the girls are around but if we go away they have the tendencies to go right back to leaving laundry on the floor. I think it’s a guy thing.

    One thing you may want to try is setting up expectations for what it means to be a productive member of the household. We do this with allowance, the allowance is a salary the kids must use to pay for their expenses. If they don’t do what is expected of them and aren’t respectful members of the household, we can withhold their allowance. Remember, you are training them to be successful adults and that training takes time.

    Hang in there!
    Tracie Shroyer´s last blog post ..Top 12 Money Mistakes Parents Make: Consistency

    Reply
    • Amy LeForge April 6, 2015, 12:45 pm

      Tracie, I see your wisdom on the less control = more responsibility thing. I think we’ve kind of done that. We don’t have bedtime either; just like you there is a time when I have them shut down computers and go to their room at night. They are allowed to run their iPods though. But it has been pretty good, and like you I’ve seen them go to bed on their own more.

      Since the room cleaning they’ve been a bit better, thank God. I even got them to do their laundry before it became a huge monster pile and they were surprised when the job was small. Baby steps, I guess.

      As for expectations and allowance, we do that. As a result no one has earned any cash for a loooooong time.

      I do see bits of progress here and there. I complained for a few days about shoes being thrown all over the entry way (it was horrible) and then asked everyone to put their shoes on the appropriate mat one day. The following day there were still 2 pairs of shoes laying about, so I chucked them out into the garage. Boy was that ever noticed! And voila!! Shoes are (mostly) on the mats now. I tried that strategy years ago and nobody cared. I was surprised and pleased when it actually worked this time. It even worked with more than one boy.

      Thanks for the encouragement!! There are days when I feel like all I do is stare at brick walls, since beating my head on them isn’t going to make a difference anyway.

      Reply