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This is Life, Based on a True Story  

Mom the Maleficent

I’ll never be accused of being too easygoing in the parenting department. I wouldn’t say I’m overly strict though either, but my kids compare me to Maleficent some days.

I was out with a group of moms the other night and we were talking about our parenting strategies. One thing is certain – none of us actually know for certain what we’re doing.

Many of our strategies are comparable to the scribbles of our child’s first drawing – no clear picture and a lot of chaos.

I worry about what I‘m going to write because it’s judgmental, but I spoke with the parent prior to writing this and she asked for my opinion.

Here’s the scenario: this parent will not allow her child basic “growing up” freedoms. As a result, her kid tends to be quite rebellious.

Her teen-aged daughter found a job and her paycheque is deposited directly into her bank account.

The mom has control of the bank account. It was opened when this kid was a younger child for gifts of money received from birthdays, Christmas, etc. So the account is in both the mom’s name and the child’s name.

This teen has to figure out her own way to and from work after school, which means transit (in West Kelowna where they live, that can be a challenge at the best of times, especially later at night when her shift ends).

Here’s the part I’m scratching my head over. This kid is not allowed to have access to the money she makes.

Her mom won’t let her kid have a bank card or withdraw anything from the account.

The kid can’t even open a separate bank account for her cheques to be deposited into because she doesn't have access to her birth certificate, passport, health card or anything the banks require. Her mom keeps all of that locked away.

Now, to me it seems perfectly obvious why this teen is being rebellious.

This teen is also not allowed to get her learner’s licence even though she’s 16. When I asked the mom why she’s restricting these things, her response was she’s doing what’s best for her and making sure she stays out of trouble till she’s old enough to know how to handle it.

I questioned her on both of these issues. How is keeping control of your kid’s money – that she earned – doing what’s best for the child? There’s no opportunity to learn money management skills. Besides, it’s her money. 

Then the driver’s licence issue. That’s a kid’s freedom ticket. When I turned 16, I had my licence within days. This mom says it’s giving her child too much control and the child has to earn the right to drive.

I strongly disagreed with this reasoning. While I agree with driving is a privilege, not a right, I also believe this is a major right of passage for a child to morph into adulthood. 

They learn responsibility not only for themselves, but for the lives of others as well. They have to learn how to budget their money in order to afford insurance and gas and in some cases, parking. They learn there are rules they must follow no matter what.

Throughout this conversation, this mom was saying how she’s frustrated by how difficult her teen has become in recent months. She’s staying out with friends till all hours of the night and has started to do poorly in school (whereas before, the kid was straight As).

The teen is now grounded until her marks improve. So she sneaks out. It’s a vicious circle.

This teen is acting out because she’s begging for her mom to give her more freedom. Because her mom  won't relinquish any control, the teen is now taking control in her own way and the only way she knows how, which is to do everything behind her mom’s back.

Not everything is tough for this teen though. She also has a lot of great things going on. She’s one of the top athletes on her sports team and chances are high, she’ll earn a scholarship.

Despite being a single parent, the mom manages to take her daughter on an amazing trip every year to experience different parts and cultures of the world. And most importantly, her daughter has a strong and supportive friend-and-family base.

I guess ultimately, we do what we think is right for our kids. But there also has to be a side of us as parents that says what does my kid want?

As for the mom and teen; the mom now gives her daughter an allowance from the money she makes. If she can manage it wisely for a few months, the mom has promised to give her a bank card.

The driver’s licence thing is still up in the air, but at least it’s on the table for discussion.

While you don’t have completely conform to their ideals (could you imagine…), as a parent, you have to  be open to negotiating some points as the child grows. And for many of us parents, that means loosening those apron strings.

Thanks for reading.

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About the Author

Tanya Gunderson has been writing for the heck of it for many years. Her inspiration comes from her kids, their friends and the craziness of life. She takes great pleasure in exposing life for what it really is and has an open-book approach to her writing.

Her formal education and background include a blink-and-you miss-it stint in the radio and television industry, but it gave her an opportunity to write professionally on a few different occasions.

Email: [email protected]

 

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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