Tuesday, August 14 , 2018, 9:14 pm | Fair 72º

 
 
 
 
Teenagers

Louise Palanker: Overprotective Mom, Making the Grades, Absentee Father Wants a Call

Question from Erica

Hi, Weezy! I am now 18 years old but my parents can’t seem to grasp the idea that I am growing up. My mom, especially, is very strict. I ask to go out with friends and she gets mad and reluctantly* lets me. And then she wants me back home by 9:30 p.m. Trust me, my friends are very good kids.

Every time I try to bring this up to my mother (In a mature manner I promise), she just completely ignores me and changes the subject.

Another thing ... My mom gets upset when I call someone else my best friend. Ever since I was little, any time I called someone my best friend, my mom would say “they’re not your best friend. I am. Your dad is. We care about you and we truly love you, and no one else will ever be able to do that.” Eventually I learned to not call someone that to save myself a lecture.

I’ve always been independent but I really feel like I’ve missed out on a lot because of my strict mom. She really, truly still treats me like a child.

I’m not gonna go out and party and do all that bad stuff, I just want to have a little bit more freedom. Any advice?

I’m starting to think I’ll always be living with my parents for the rest of my life and having to be home before 10 p.m. (And to be honest, my mom has already said that if she could have me live at home forever, she would. She really meant it.)

Thanks, Weezy.

Weezy

Believe what your mother is saying to you. It sounds like she is determined to create in you a daughter who won’t ever leave home. She doesn’t get to do that if that is not what you want. Parents are supposed to give their children roots and wings — roots to know who you are and wings to fly. If your parents are not giving you wings, then you must grow your own.

Are you on a college path? I have seen a pattern in families like yours where the parents will overly protect the children in an effort to serve their own needs. Often times, the child is home schooled and then not encouraged to attend college. This would be a failure to give you wings.

If I am describing your family, then you will need to work hard to gain your independence. Of course you want a social life, but to earn your freedom to have one you may need to focus right now on your education. College is your road to autonomy and self-reliance.

If you are not yet on a higher education path, then put yourself on one. You can do this by attending community college. Talk to counselors about getting your AA degree so that you can transfer into a four-year school and graduate with a BA or a BS. As a general rule of thumb, the more you learn, the more you earn. While you go to school, get a job. Your priorities now must be college and work. Ask for those freedoms from your parents. Learn how to support yourself and then redefine your relationship with your parents on your own terms.

As soon as you move away from home, you get to establish the rules and the boundaries of your relationship with your parents. When you see them setting a trap to keep you childlike, find a path around it. Don’t get distracted by attempting to negotiate for more friend time. Instead, ask to go to work and to go to school. There is a built-in social life to both of these pursuits as well.

Your parents are not your best friends. They are your parents. Adult children who define their parents as their best friends have parents who have earned that title. I know it may not feel like it right now, but you have more power in this situation than you realize. You are 18 years old. Figure out a plan that will get you educated and emancipated and then execute that plan. You get to seek the life that will make you happy.

Here’s more from Jordan Peterson.

(Bite-sized Philosophy video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Daphne

Hi, problem solver ;)

So I’m not really doing well at school. I get Cs, Ds and Fs. :( Well I’m not sure if I really work hard, because social media comes first and school comes last. I try my best to pull my grades up, but it’s staying the same.

We are getting our report cards tomorrow and I have a feeling I want to hide it from my parents. Should I?

Weezy

No. You can’t hide your grades from your parents or from yourself. There is a cause-and-effect relationship between your actions and the outcomes. If you don’t eat breakfast, you will be hungry. If you keep googling the word radish, the Internet will think you are into radishes. If you put social media ahead of grades, your grades will suffer. As we grow up, hopefully we learn self control. We learn how to delay gratification and we learn about balance.

What can you do to put yourself on a schedule that will prioritize your school work? In your letter to me you say, “I try my best to pull my grades up.” However, the preceding sentence contradicts that statement. You are lying to yourself. Trying your best means putting your phone away. Turning it off. Handing it to your mom. Whatever it takes ... We both know that the thing is constantly buzzing and dinging. It wants your attention! Every device and every app is designed to OWN you. “Would you like to receive notifications???” How about maybe, “No.” Check it when you can. Not every time it dings. Your phone is addictive. So are Cheetos but you don’t eat them all day. Or you shouldn’t. Fold up the bag. Chip clip it. Throw it in a well.

Figure out what it takes to get yourself on track. Really putting your phone away gives you a chance to focus without feeling tempted. It also gives you something to look forward to. We shouldn’t have whatever we want all day long. We should have to work for it. That feels so much better.

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Elizabeth

My father has been very absent from my life. He’s missed all of my birthdays, he missed my high school graduation, I don’t remember the last time we talked on the phone. I haven’t spoken to or seen him in at least three years.

The only time I’ve heard from him was a month or so ago when my half-sister messaged me to say he was “recovering from back surgery and wanted to let you know.” Today she sent me another message saying that he has been diagnosed with ALS, and he would like me and my brother to call him. I don’t want to. He’s had years to talk to me. My phone number has been the same for eight years, and he’s always had it.

I feel like it’s selfish for me to not talk to him, but I’m not interested in “making amends.” He only ever comes into my life when it’s convenient or when it’s about him.

Weezy

You don’t have to call your dad. It’s your choice. You do not owe him anything. You need to do what works for you. But before you decide not to call him, really think this through. Understand that calling your dad would be something you are doing for you, not for him. Picture yourself 10 years from now, 20 years from now. Your dad is gone. Are you OK with your decision not to call him when you were 18? There won’t be a do-over.

Bear in mind that you do not yet have the wisdom and the perspective that you will acquire as you grow older. We don’t want you to look back with regret. I know that your dad has not earned your love or your trust or even your compassion, but let’s imagine for a moment that he is the one who is currently living with regrets. Maybe you should give him a chance to speak his peace while he is still here.

My vote would be for you to call him once. Hear what he has to say. You don’t have to go see him. You have every right to remain hurt by him and angry at him. You certainly deserved more of a father. But this was the father you got. Before he leaves this earth, give him a call. If he asks for more of you than you wish to give, then simply say goodbye and hang up the phone.

You don’t have to “make amends.” You don’t have to forgive him. You don’t have to do anything for him. You should do this for yourself so that you can look back at this moment and be proud of how you handled it.

                                                                 •        •        •

Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She also hosts a weekly video podcast called Things I Found Online, and teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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