Posted by: amamasblog | June 12, 2007

“Mom It’s Not Right!”

In light of the national media frenzy on Paris Hilton and the never- ending jail saga during the last week, I just had to share this wonderful, refreshing, interesting, and finally-someone-has-the-guts-to-say-it commentary on the situation and the larger issues at play here, by Jamie Lee Curtis (yes, the mother and the actress). 

I think this goes beyond Paris Hilton, to the current attitudes, sadly, a lot of parents have towards their children, and what can happen when parents forget they are *parents*, and their children are children, teen-agers, and young adults, but NOT adults.  

It seems like there are so many parents who try so hard to be their minor children’s friends, don’t want to upset their children, give them anything and everything they want, so their children will like them and or won’t be mad at them, on, and on, and on, they have forgotten that their children are NOT equals, and they need parental guidance in their lives.  My children will have friends- they need Joe and I to be their parents

I can’t count how many times I ‘hated’ my parents for having rules and regulations.  Even though I thought they were the meanest, strictest, and most old-fashioned parents out there, it wasn’t until I was *older* (dare I say, I might have even been an adult?) before it dawned on me that they were ‘mean’ because they loved me.  They had rules to teach me reality and responsibility.  I had to work for most of the things I wanted, from about the age of 13.  My mom let me use her car, when I stared driving, if she didn’t need it, but I didn’t have my own car, until I saved up and bought it myself when I was 20, and it was 11 years old, when I bought it. 

But, I earned every dime to pay for it, and it taught me the value of work, saving for something, and money- traits I still have today.  My parents wanted to know who my friends were, insisted on meeting them, gave me strict curfews, much earlier than any other kids my age, and guess what? I grew up, and still love my parents today-imagine that!  Yes, my parents made mistakes, and were not perfect, but my three siblings and I agree that we turned out ‘pretty well.’

A few weeks ago I got a real eye-opener, as I was walking by the high school in my neighborhood when school let out.   When did 16, 17, & 18 year-olds start driving more expensive cars, trucks, and SUV’s than what working adults drive? (Let me say that this high school is one of the lowest income high schools in the district-about 50% of the kids are on the reduced / free lunch program.)   Heck, we couldn’t even afford an old beater truck to replace the one from Joe’s car accident with out taking on additional debt, but yet, every other vehicle I saw was a custom 4X4 pick-up truck decked out with every imaginable feature and accesory.  Seriously, there wasn’t a truck worth less than $20,000 that peeled out of the parking lot, as I was walking by.

Some of these kids probably have part-time jobs, but come on- part time jobs for high school kids, don’t pay that kind of money.  Obviously the parents of these kids are helping finance these cars and trucks, and I just couldn’t help but wonder, to what cost?  What kind of adults are we going to have in 10 years, when all these kids get handed expensive cars, the latest cell phones, IPods (I still don’t have an IPod), Blackberry’s, HDTV in their bedrooms, the latest $500 video game systems, cameras, and all the latest fashions- ranging from $150 jeans to $200 hairstyles?

I think this ‘Paris Hilton Syndrome’ is a much larger reflection on what will be happening to a lot of these children, when that day of reckoning comes for them- the day Dad and Mom CAN’T bail them out anymore. (Notice I didn’t say won’t bail them out, because it seems like these types of parents will always bail out their children as long as they can.) 

Of course, their rock-bottom moment won’t be captured in a national and world media stage, but when these children realize the world is a place with rules, and responsibilities, and there are consequences for their actions and no one Dad and Mom won’t be around to ‘save’ them, the tragedy is in that moment, they will realize that their parent’s have failed them on the most basic level.

No wonder Paris Hilton broke down as she realized she would have to go back to jail!   It isn’t right she was failed in this way, and it isn’t right ANY child gets failed in this regard, but countless of them do, in every town in America-they do.  If you don’t believe me, just drive by your local high school when school is out.

In case you didn’t hit the link to Jamie Lee Curtis’s commentary at the beginning of the post, here is the entire piece:

As the denouement of a really upsetting celebrity scandal came to its close, a tearful child pleaded to her mother… “Mom, it’s not right.”

 

It was a painful episode to watch. A young woman, begging her mother, the person who should have taught her right from wrong, to help her, to teach her the rules of life. It was a little too late. And so she wept as the Universe was bringing the teaching and settling the score.

I’m in no glass house. I understand only too well the pitfalls of maternal amnesia and denial. I am not throwing stones but merely a lifesaver, a buoy of sanity and understanding.

“My analyst told me, that I was right out of my head,” Joni Mitchell sang in the song “Twisted.” I was twisted. I am twisted. I am deluded that my attempts at being liked and loved by my children and friends with them — all at the same time — were going to result in “well raised children.” We were the generation that would take the job of raising our children and turn it into… PARENTING. We were the generation who applauded every move they made. Every step they took. “Good climbing, Brandon” was our hue and cry. We were raised by people who didn’t “understand” us and now we don’t “understand” why our children are so messed up.

It is a national epidemic. Omnipotent children running amok or sitting amok as they watch TV and play electronic games and shop on eBay.

The sad paths of the three most popular young women — privileged but from varying backgrounds, talented, beautiful and spectacular — have ended in prison, rehab and mental illness. I hope their mothers are worried sick and wondering, “What could I have done differently?” And our culture should be asking the same question too.

What we need to do is look long and hard at our part in all this. Where did our children get the message that the rules don’t apply to them? And where did we, the Mothers, get the message that if we abdicate our responsibilities as Mothers, the Universe will do our job for us? And it does, but without any of the love and tenderness and compassion that we could have given, along with the lessons.

Now it’s just the cold hard facts of a jail cell or the emptiness of a rehab room.

I’m not pointing fingers. I’m asking questions.

Can we take the wrenching sight of Paris asking her mother, “why?” and ask it of ourselves?

My analyst told me this: “Children are paparazzi. They take your picture mentally when you don’t want them to, when you don’t look good, and show it back to you in their behavior.”

Let’s hope that we all learn what is RIGHT and what is so WRONG.

Wake up, Mothers and smell the denial.

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Responses

  1. Oooooo! good topic!! I should be doing other things, but I’m going to reply instead 🙂

    I find it sad that in this world there seem to be 2 parenting extremes – violence and indulgence and that they often go hand in had. We don’t hit our kids and work hard to discipline them gently and respectfully and yet we would NEVER let our kids get away with some of the stuff we see. Even on SuperNanny – someone who disciplines more harshly than we do – I watched her say “if you hit me again you’re going in the naughty chair!” which I find flooring because my kids hit ONCE and there is no second chance. This is NOT to say in any way shape or form that I am a perfect parent or even a good parent. Just that I can’t understand a world where parents simultaneously use harsh or violent discipline and then turn around and have lax boundaries/standards. That’s got to be pretty confusing for kids.

    I’m right there with you. I’ll probably never get an iPod (although I want one) and I got my first car when I was 23. My grandfather-in-law sold it to me for a very low price. It was a 1984 2-door and the only reason I don’t drive it anymore is the kids! I was a good car and I’m sure I’d still be in it if it had the space. The next door neighbor kids each got a nicer used car when they turned 16 and a NEW car when they graduated from high school. Interesting message, especially seeing that they aren’t required to work or go to college.

    And the bailing out is an interesting one…DH gets calls from parents _all_the_time_. Their DS will be 30-something and beat his wife and Mommy will be on the phone w/in hours telling DH that their DS is a good man and it never would have happened if their DILs weren’t sluts…or that he would never steal a car, do drugs, whatever it is he’s charged with. It is totally flooring. And what Mom and Dad can do is spend the $$ to hire an attorney. And we both know how expensive that is. It makes me sad to see parents spending that kind of money for their adult children instead of letting them accept their consequences, grow from it and move on. And when adult kids continue to get bailed out their consequences get worse and worse until they are Paris Hilton in jail. It would have been a lot easier to just learn the lesson at the beginning.

    I agree with being kids’ friends – as in respecting them, knowing them, wanting what’s best for them, being there for them etc. Clearly some parents confuse being friends with being popular. My MIL was like this – she wanted to be the favorite mother. Ask my SIL someday how this worked 😉 (It didn’t – my SIL feels robbed of a mother).

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – when I watch Paris Hilton I always think “don’t her parents want better for her than this!?”

    I’m excited to read that article but I don’t have time right now! I’ll come back this afternoon and read it 🙂

    Thanks for your very profound thoughts on a great topic!

  2. You would probably be surprised (or maybe not) how many parents I see every day as a 2nd grade teacher who try to do too much for their kids…every year I have to tell parents not to do the homework for the kids. Every year I have to explain to parents why homework is important and why you need to tell your kids they have to do it. Every year there’s kids who have no concept of authority, who refuse to do any sort of work, who turn in work incomplete and then the parents wonder why they are failing!

    Not sure what the answer is…maybe Oprah should do a topic on this!! 🙂 Heather, let her know!!


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