My sister abruptly decided last August, to spend her senior year with her mom in Orange County. Being the teenager she is, she informed our stepmom of this by text message because she was afraid our dad would be mad at her. I can’t blame her for thinking my dad would be mad. He is the nice guy who will work himself to the bones to make sure his kids don’t want for anything. He also spent years and tens of thousands of dollars getting custody of my sister when she was little. I also can’t blame her for wanting to live with her mom. After all her mom is fun. A lot of fun. She is also chemically imbalanced, emotionally unstable, and completely irresponsible…all things that you don’t think about when you’re seventeen. When I heard of this I joked to my stepmom that she’d be home by Thanksgiving; she’d realize soon enough what it’s really like to liver with her mom on a daily basis.
Well, we’re days away from Easter and there has been no contact between my dad and stepmom and my sister. From my perception, my parent’s view is that she has made her bed and is lying in it; this was her choice to make so it is up to her to make contact with our parents. I understand this philosophy for an adult. I don’t understand it for a teenager, who is still a kid. Yes, it was her choice, but no choice is made alone. We are all pulled and pushed to our choices.
During the my conversation about this with my stepmom, I kept thinking that even though I only have a 21-month-old I have alrady learned that you have to maintain your flexiblilty as a parent…after all blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape. I kept thinking that maybe if my dad and stepmom would have been a little more flexible this wouldn’t have happened. My inner voice was yelling “Don’t give up on your kids! You can’t give up on them.”
I’m not the parent of a teenager, but I kept thinking that if she could have hung out with her friends more, if she could go out with friends who drove, if she could have gone on a date; if she could have been a seventeen-year-old girl and done silly things. If she had been given a little more freedom to spread her wings, to learn how to make choices, to be faced with right and wrong, to just be a teenager. Teenagers are silly and goofy but they’re not stupid. Not every teenage girl who goes on a date is going to get pregnant. Not every teenage boy who goes out with a girl is going to take advantage of her. You have to trust your parenting enough to feel that you’ve given your teenager a solid foundation on which to make decisions. You have to trust your kids. Kids know it when you don’t trust them.
You know what kills me with all of this? It kills me that I’m venting my feelings on my blog. It kills me that I want my sister to go home and I want her to stay with her mom. I want her to stay and have fun and graduate high school and go to college and go on dates and show my parents that it can be done. I want her to go home because I hate to see my dad and stepmom hurt. It kills me that I sometimes don’t want to parent like my parents.