Punishing her for our Mistakes?


The teenager doesn’t read everything that I post on here, but she reads enough to get the general idea and to realize that she is the subject of some of my writing.  She’s OK with it for now, and I try to consider her privacy while musing on the challenges of raising a teenage girl.  I think that because I can be found on the internet she might think that I am famous. I don’t dissuade her.

I recently posted my 10 Tips for Teens, a tongue-in-cheek guide for parents and teenagers to help them get along better.  After getting picked up by The Good Men Project and seeing it’s reach move beyond what it would have here, I asked her if she had seen it.

The “look” was answer enough.  Anybody that has been around teenage girls has seen it.  Equal parts contempt and bewilderment, it’s similar to the look you give when checking a newborn’s diaper for the first time.  Disgust and confusion at the same time. Apparently she not only had read it, but wasn’t as amused as I found myself writing it.

The problem didn’t turn out to be the content itself, but rather the perceived insinuation that we, as parents, never did anything wrong or foolish and that we unfairly hold our children to standards that we failed to reach ourselves at that age.  The universal feeling among teenagers throughout time that they should be allowed to make their own mistakes and thereafter learn from them as we did. Her complaint wasn’t with the post itself, which she ultimately conceded was funny, but led to an interesting conversation about her feelings that her mother and I were being unfair and hypocritical when it came to some of the rules and expectations we have for her.

She’s both right and wrong.  Her mother and I were both up to much more mischief at her age than she is and that is always going to be in the back of our minds.  Some of it was relatively harmless, if extremely stupid in hindsight.  My friends and I would sneak out and climb onto the roof of the elementary school, purposefully setting off the alarms so that we could jump down and run into the woods when  the town police showed up.  Brilliant.

Other times there were actual consequences. I was riding in the back of a pick up truck one night when I noticed we were being trailed by a police car.  Being underage, it seemed prudent to dispose of the case of beer I had with me.  Over the side of the truck.  In front of the police car.  Brilliant.

More times than I would like to admit, arrest or severe bodily injury to myself or others was avoided by nothing more than dumb luck. Very few times was it due to the extreme cleverness I would have attributed it to at the time.

These are the times that its our job to try and limit. The nights that leave scars, both physical and emotional.  She’s going to make mistakes, we know that.  Hopefully she will learn from them and come out of her teenage years with some  good memories and  funny stories.  With as few scars as possible.





36 thoughts on “Punishing her for our Mistakes?”

  1. I think we, as parents, do tend to judge our kids based on the stupid shit we’ve done not because we assume that they will do it but because we are afraid that because they are an extension of who we are and they are young, that they will make the same mistakes and we want more than anything, to make sure that doesn’t happen. At the same time, we have to let them make their own mistakes because that’s how they will learn. It’s a fine line we parents walk every single day. Gives a whole new appreciation for what our parents went through with us. LOL. One time, my siblings and I were partying and decided to go to a skate park. we were so drunk and a police officer came by to tell us to leave. My sister wasn’t a very nice drunk back then. Let’s just say, we almost got arrested but I couldn’t stop laughing at my sister yelling at the cop. So dumb. Great post! Thanks for sharing

    1. Its been said that you never really appreciate your parents until you are one yourself. I was fortunate enough that my parents still don’t know most of the stupid stuff I did. Every once in a while I like to throw a story at them just to see the reaction

  2. I can identify with this. My son is 11 and already finding it tough that I am hard on him at times. I worry that he will make the same mistakes as I did, perhaps even worse! He isn’t happy that I write about him in my blog, he even said to me the other week, can you not just pretend I don’t exist? LOL. #momsterslink

    1. That’s a tough one. So far I haven’t been asked to keep her out of anything, but I try and not write anything that she may object to. I’m not sure how I would deal with that

  3. How great that the popularity of your post led to such an interesting conversation. It seems like such a tricky balance… ‘I made this mistake so you don’t have to’ sort of feeling with a desire to see them live their own lives with joy. Hmm a conundrum and one that, with only a two year old at the moment, I can’t really fathom…I mean he’s never going to go anywhere without me is he!!? #momsterslink

    1. I don’t want to just assume that she is going to always make the right choices, because I know that she isn’t. We are just trying to make it harder for her to make the bad ones. It is a very tricky balance

  4. Great post! My oldest is only 7 & 1/2 but I feel as if she is already acting like a teenager somedays. I think I need to brace myself! I avoided a lot of stupid stuff with just dumb luck too and I have to say that it sometimes haunts me!! Especially a near fall off a very high cliff where, no doubt, I would not be sitting here commenting on this post today! Stupid, stupid teenager stuff! Found you from #momsterslink Here’s what I linked up: http://mytalesfromthecrib.blogspot.com/2013/09/back-to-school-tips-from-one-organized.html

  5. I think looking back we wish someone had stopped us making the stupid mistakes, though at the time we would never have admitted that! Love the story about the beer out of the window 🙂
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes

  6. The thing is if each generation didnt have their parents setting rules and guidelines based on our own personal experiences of what we got up to at that age, they would get up to far worse things. I think most parents of teen know rules will be bent and broken, its a massive balancing act. #Anuthinggoes

  7. I often wonder how much my teenager reads of my blog. I don’t ask him only because I feel that this is my space to talk and discuss things with the people of the world wide web. Although I must say that I have written a few posts about his egg donor and on being a step mom…but if anything I am just speaking honestly. Raising teenagers isn’t easy. Especially since we have been one ourselves….during a much different time. Thanks for sharing this with #momsterslink. I always enjoy reading what you have to say about “stuff in general”.

    1. I don’t think she reads it often. I don’t ask because I’m afraid eventually she’ll take back her permission to write about her

  8. This is so true as I remember back to my young days and cringe at some of the stuff I got up to and a) wonder how I survived and b) wonder how I can prevent the Tubblet from making the same mistake. (B I suspect is impossible as making mistakes is part of how you learn. I’ll just have to hope the Tubblet survives like I did!) #anythinggoes

  9. My partner always reminds me when I feel bad for telling my boys off for something I did as a kid, that my own parents would have/did tell me off. My boys are just not as good at hiding stuff as we were. Ha
    Stevie 🙂

  10. Oh you do make me laugh! I too got up to quite a bit of mischief and luckily escaped arrest/getting caught but if I heard of a kid doing the same things now I’d be disgusted! I’m so hypocritical. And if my teens did those things, I’d kill em’. #tweensteensbeyond

  11. Where would we be without those daring stories of our own youth? I have a fair few my teens are yet to hear about but they also fall into the bracket of those I wouldn’t want them to repeat. Yes we are hypocrites I suppose but we have the benefit of hindsight! We can’t be there for them all the time and they will push the boundaries a bit but we all need a funny story to tell! Thanks for making me smile. #TweensTeensBeyond

    1. Thanks for reading Jo. I don’t see how we could parent effectively without a great deal of hiprocrisy

  12. This is an issue my husband and I clash on. He…micromanages…our teenage son. I know he does it from a place of love and because he wants the best for him, but I can see it from the teen’s point of view – he has no room to learn from his own stupid mistakes. It’s frustrating, but we’re slowly working to strike a balance.

  13. There’s no way I’m telling my kids half the stuff I got up to as a teen, but trust me they give a very good ‘look’ at times, my parents were much stricter with me and my sister than i’ve ever been with my kids, i made have made mistakes but they’ve formed part of who i am now and will do with my kids also #tweenteensbeyond

    1. I don’t think my parents were all that strict, I never got caught so there was never any reason for them to be. Somehow this one seems to always get caught when she does dumb stuff. It sounds silly, but I wish she was a bit smarter about her shenanigans.

  14. ‘You can’t put an old head on young shoulders’ as my Mum used to say! You make a very important point. Risk taking is part of a teens job description and we were no different, it’s easier to deal with when YOU are the one taking those risks and horrible to deal with when it is your child. Thanks so much for sharing with us at #TweensTeensUK

  15. Well done on the post reach Jeremy – and of course, as you say here, that comes with consequences. I hope you are reassured by what you have read in all of these comments and I echo these. I have to say I think my parents were saints. Reflecting back and remembering those words ‘wait until you are a parent’ – come echoing back and they are of course – very right. Thanks for sharing at #tweensteensbeyond

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