First Strike: Amnesty.

She said she was walking around the lake blowing off some steam. We can dig that. After all, it’s hard being an unemployed 17-year-old high school senior. Today’s kids have so much to worry about. Instead of helping Mom and Dad milk the cows, feed the chickens, gather vegetables for dinner from the farm’s garden, or fetch water from the family well a few acres away, teens today are tasked with regurgitating biased textbook word barf, and then updating Instagram or Snapchat with a clever (usually not-so-clever) pun, selfie, or exhibitionist video. It’s a lot to ask.

It wasn’t the walk, or the steam-blowing that was the problem. When Mom came home early today, the front door was unlocked. Mom walked outside and called her daughter, getting the “walking around the lake” story. Since Mom couldn’t see her angel anywhere around the lake in front of her home, Mom wondered exactly which lake her daughter was walking around. A few minutes later, after ignoring Mom’s frantic phone calls, daughter was dropped off around the corner from a certain red automobile, and scurried home, all within the view of Mom’s perch on the second floor.

Oops.

Of course, daughter freaked out and denied everything. She had never been caught red-handed, so an adolescent overreaction was apropos. As that great philosopher Greg House once said, everyone lies. And eventually, everyone gets caught.

Mom was understandably pissed. She immediately collected her daughter’s smartphone, tablet, and car keys. That’s exactly the damage control any parent should do the moment her kid goes AWOL. Collect all the information you can, assess the situation, then issue a punishment that fits the crime.

Mom thought about it for a while, her mind racing a million miles a minute imagining all the other times that might have been untruths. Wondering what her baby was doing in some random red car with some strange boy. Pondering the potential effects of her daughter’s actions and how they might derail her education, and possibly life. And considering that dingleberry left the front door unlocked potentially endangering the rest of the fam, something had to be done to use this experience to teach a powerful lesson. Never scorn Mom.

It was her first offense – that Mom knew about, anyway. If the punishment was too drastic, Mom risked completely losing her daughter’s trust. She thought she could better use this snag as a teaching opportunity – to explain the dangers of riding with boys; the responsibility of teenage pregnancy; the permanency of sexually transmitted diseases; the opportunity cost of derailing from that 4.5 GPA she worked so hard to achieve; and how stupid it is to leave a front door unlocked in today’s crazy world. Mom knew she couldn’t let her daugher slide, but maybe a first strike shouldn’t be punished so harshly.

She offered her daughter amnesty – an opportunity to spill her guts, tell Mom all the other times she may not have been honest, and get everything out there in the open – all with no fear of retribution or severe punishment. Surprisingly, her daughter complied.

Mom gave back the phone, her tablet, and her keys. But she also let her daughter know she was grounded for a week or two. She now would have to let Mom know where she was going, when she was going, and when she’d be back. And perhaps the worst was knowing that Mom was keeping an extra special close eye on her.

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Punishment through enabling.

My ex and I divorced in 2005, ostensibly because she “didn’t want to be married anymore.” She woke up one day and changed her mind after nine years of marriage, I suppose. I didn’t ask any questions. I appreciated her honesty. Over about a year or two travelling with a slimy outside mostly male sales team, she had become someone else. She was absolutely no fun anymore. Didn’t want to hang out. Didn’t want to party. Didn’t want to spend nearly two years of sleepless nights with her infant son. After our divorce, I signed a quit-claim deed to my house (and all the money I invested in it) and started over. That woman gleefully rubbed salt in the wound by giving away my furniture and other belongings to her sister while I was standing in her living room. Never once asked if I wanted any of my stuff back. For various reasons, one in particular that was the most selfless thing I’ve ever done, I bit my tongue and let it go. Figured I’d come from nothing once before, so how hard could it be to do it again? Inevitably, due to me rushing to catch up financially and the simultaneous economic downturn in the mid-2000s, I ended up in bankruptcy court. I should be angry as hell, but I’m not. That experience spawned three or four books, including the one you just bought.

Our son was about four and some change when the poo hit the fan. He was too young to realize what was happening, so I hoped this change would be fairly transparent. Mom was never home anyway, opting to stay in a hotel less than 45 minutes away on some nights even before I realized my marriage was in trouble. Yeah, that was weird, but whatever. We both agreed that we would remain friendly and work together in the best interest of our son no matter what.

I suppose Mom changed her mind once again.

It’s not that she’s not a good mom – she, like millions of other parents, is inexperienced. Mom doesn’t really pal around with anyone who has raised teenage kids. As a matter of fact, from what I know, most of my son’s mother’s current friends are strangely childless. By deduction, I can assume with a high degree of confidence that she has absolutely no parental role models or support system. Even if she did, she’d probably ignore them being her hard-headed self.  I had briefly helped raise a girl with another psycho mother who’s quickly crashing and burning. At least I had a little experience in what not to do. My son’s mom completely ignores any and all of my parental wisdom. I offered to let her read my first parenting book not to remedy her mistakes, but to hopefully make her a bit more objective. She has refused on several occasions. I suppose that’s to be expected. This woman is flying completely blind.

Mom has told me a number of times she hated her childhood. Her parents made her take music lessons, and she dreaded the days her tutor came over. Made such a fuss her parents eventually gave up. Ironically, her father was an accomplished guitar player. Her parents made her wait a year until she was seventeen before she could get her learner’s permit – not so much because she wasn’t ready to drive, but to delay the onslaught of the exceedingly high adolescent car insurance premium. And her mom and dad didn’t allow her to date until she graduated high school. She believes that caused her first crash and burn the summer after high school because she didn’t have any relationship experience. Ironically, she turned out to be a responsible adult, making some serious bank with a big company and a 401k. Apparently, her parents parented perfectly. She can’t seem to see that fact.

Against my better judgment, my son has been allowed to skip the camaraderie and musical intelligence offered by high school band. She calls them “geeks” and says he should strive to hang out with the “cool” kids (you know, the pot-smokers and losers who’ll be used car salesman in a few years). She overruled my objection to his getting a learner’s permit at age 15, accelerating his path to full licensing (and unsupervised freedom). She mentioned she has already saved for his new car. Now, he’s bugging me to drive, and I look like a jerk because I insist I want him to wait. And at her largely unsupervised house, she has already allowed the parental sin of allowing teenage girls to hang out in his bedroom. I’m sure you can see the problem there. I’m the bad guy again because I forbid that in my home. That ditzy teenage chick Facetimes my son a dozen times a day, and thankfully, he ignores her as far as I can tell. Mom says they’re “just friends.” I have asked her if she had any idea how many “friends” have ended up as unwitting teen parents, but as always, she ignores me.

Anyone with any normal common sense will see this kind of shit makes it impossible for anyone to parent effectively. He’s going to take the path of least resistance because his mother will basically let him do whatever he wants. Eventually, he’ll stop coming to my home because I have too many rules, and Mom’s place will be more like a frat house. Children need structure and limits. She uses a wrecking ball to destroy any limits I attempt to impose.

I have attempted to have several adult conversations with her to address my concerns. It’s difficult to get a word in edgewise, as I’ll be forced to listen to a constant stream of irrelevant babble that she repeats in different words several times. Seriously, this has got to drive her co-workers absolutely nuts. I’ll say something, attempting to make a point, yet I know she’s not hearing me. She won’t shut up long enough to let me develop a complete thought. I’ve begun to filter her droning out too. We’re at a communication impasse.

And now that her Dad has passed on, she now treats her mother like a child. I can’t believe how she talks to her mother. What’s even more unbelievable is how her mother just takes it. It’s like she’s scared of her daughter. She ain’t that big, come on! As a matter of fact, it seems she has more rules for her mother than she does for her son. Honestly, short of 60 million people voting for a reality TV personality as leader of the free world, it’s one of the strangest fucking things I have ever seen.

My kid’s mom is simultaneously punishing me, her parents, my stepkids, the United States of America, the planet Earth, and her own child – for God knows what – by enabling him. Somewhere in her mind, she incorrectly believes that her 15-year-old wildman son is exactly like she was when she was 15, nearly three decades ago. Maybe she thinks he would suffer the same way she did if he had to wait for anything she had to wait for. Different gender. Different music. Different pastimes. Different situation. Different everything. Any reasonable person knows the sure path to parental failure is leaving a child to his or her own devices and catering to his or her every whim. Ask almost any heroin addict. Yet, thousands of idiot parents are making these huge, life-affecting mistakes as a result of pure parental inexperience.

Here in Florida, you need a license to drive, cut hair, or fill vending machines. However, there are zero classes, tests, licenses, or requirements to raise another human being. And with neighborhoods disintegrating, church groups shrinking, schools losing their ability to discipline, and society in general becoming lost in fake news delivered by the latest social media star, I wonder how any of us can avoid an idiotic future.

She’s attempting to buy her son’s love with gifts and freedom. She always has. Mom has admitted “there’s no one else in my life, so why shouldn’t I be allowed to spoil him?” Because he has no incentive to work for anything, you nimrod! Life is hard. No one’s giving anything away in America, and the next four years will surely see things tighten up. Parenting is creating a foundation for work ethics. For expectations. For an example of the kind of good parent he should be someday. She is creating a child with unreasonable expectations, throwing me and my lessons under the bus as fallacies. I have observed this exact same behavior with other parents, both single and married, several times, and it has never once ended well. Not one single time.

He is 15 now, and already pretty set in his ways. If there isn’t some sort of parenting intervention in the next year or two, my own son may join the ranks of unemployable idiots. And that would break my heart.