Momania Flashback: Crisis brings out the best in our moms

This is the fifth in a series of stories to celebrate the five-year anniversary of Momania. We are flashing back to some of our favorite columns and blogs. As a community we are at our best when one of our own is in trouble. The sniping stops, the criticisms cease and good advice is dispensed by almost all. Here are several samples where moms were in crisis and our community offered good advice. You can click on each headline to see the original discussion.

What to do when a child can’t stop stealing?

Ladies, one of our own needs our help! I received a note from a regular MOMania contributor who has a big problem with her child. Her child is an older elementary student.

Here is what she wrote: “What do you do when your perfect angel gets caught taking (i.e. stealing) other people’s things at school? This child is not deprived, is an A – B student and genuinely liked by most people. The child has a kind heart, and believes in God. However, whether it is a gem clip or toy this child cannot keep her hands off other people’s things. I am at wits end and afraid if I don’t scare the crap out of her soon a very bad and rough road lies of ahead of her.”

Have any of you guys had a child that couldn’t stop taking things? How did you handle it? Do you think it’s a maturity/self control issue that she will grow out of? Do you think she’s looking for attention for another reason? What is an appropriate punishment for stealing? Should this mom “scare” the child straight or is there something deeper going on?

Let’s give this mom a lot of ideas. She sounds like she’s not sure what to do next.

Mom threw teen out of the house: When is enough enough?

Yesterday I got a very distressing note from one of the moms in our community. Her battle with her disrespectful teenager had reached critical mass and she had told her almost 18-year-old they were no longer welcome at home. The mother is completely torn up inside not knowing if she has done the right thing, but she felt she couldn’t let her child continue to treat her this way.

The mother’s full letter is below. She is keeping the gender of the child neutral as not to sway the audience. Please be gentle and constructive in your advice or criticism. She is truly looking for a sounding board and some help. She’s not sure she’s done the right thing or even what to do next.

Here’s what the mother wrote:

“My question is …  when is enough, enough?

I have a 17 yo who shows no respect to my husband (not the father) and even less respect to me.  I love this child, have tried to do the best I can and have twisted myself into a pretzel to be an involved parent.  School was never fun, even kindergarten and we struggled every year.  The child has graduated this spring and was planning on attending the local community college before starting Georgia State the following year.  In my opinion this was a wise decision by this child.

I have been an involved parent, the last couple of years I was not as involved in the activities, but my thought process has been I needed to let go and give the child room to fall and learn how to recover while there was still a safety net.  I feel I have been strict, but also very giving and loving most of all.  I have had few expectation other than to work hard at school, try your best at swim team, take the seasonal job seriously.  Having a 17 yo who is still a virgin, not gotten into drugs, drinking and smoking, I feel I have instilled some values.  I always thought to teach by example, work hard, do for your friends and family even when there is no reward for yourself.  I have been supporting my mother, a elderly family friend, my child and myself and only recently married a man I had been with for 10 years.

I have had my child in counseling for the past 7 years working on depression, ADHD, bi-polar issues.

The child’s father has been in the picture for the most part, not due to me.  Up until the last 3 years we lived 4 miles from the father and other than celebrations (birthday, holidays or some event) he didn’t take his visitations consistently.  My child now will have little if any contact with him, but I try to keep the father in the loop as to what is going on at home.

We have less than two months until the 18th birthday.  As of last night the child is no longer welcome in my home.  In many ways I have nothing to complain about, other than the lack of respect, but I refuse to live with someone how does not respect me.  I don’t feel I am asking too much, help around the house, take care of the animals food water and let the dogs out to potty if you are home.  Help keep the kitchen clean, load or unload the dishes, don’t leave piles of clothes laying around, keep the bathroom clean since you are not the only one to use it.  We have offered to pay for doing things around the house, but $30 a week to feed and water was not enough in the child’s mind.  My husband and I just finished installing a fence and will need to paint it in the near future, child wanted to make money and offered to paint it.  But didn’t feel that the amount should be based on how good of a job was done.

I feel I have done everything I knew to do, but some how I have ended up with a child I don’t like.  This child is selfish and self absorbed and shows little to no concern for the feelings of other.  When I stated I would turn off the cell phone the response was “then you won’t hear from me again”  I said that is your choice, mine is to not let you control me with threats.  I will leave the phone on until the 18th birthday, but after that I will have it disconnected, only due to if an emergency.occurred I would like to have the ability to contact and be contacted.

Have I gone to far to let the child know it is no longer welcome in my home.  I was out on my own when I was 17, living in an apartment and paying rent and bills, but that was almost 30 years ago and life was a lot different.then. When is enough, enough?  I don’t enjoy living in a state of war at home, my needs are not being met by the child, when my needs are brought up, I get the typical eye rolling, deep exhausted sighs, and blocked out and ignored.

Would changing the locks and security password be going to far?  We don’t have a lot of valuables but I don’t want the child in the house without someone being there to make sure…..  I guess I don’t have faith in my child to make the right choices anymore and don’t trust this new person in my home.

Okay moms and dads: What do we think? How far does your teen have to push you to be thrown out? Did this teen hit the limit? Would the mental health issues override what another teen might be held accountable for? What does she do now: change the locks, let the teen back in after three days? When does the teen get to come home? How does the mom know the teen is ready to live  by the mom’s rules?

Reader question: What skills to teach kids for successful independence?

We have a great topic from one of our regulars. MotherJane Goose wants us to think about the life skills we are imparting on our kids. Here’s her question:

“@T…what are the things children will need to know to be successfully independent in life?”

“If the goal is for children to be independent ( which it is for me and my children) would parents not want a road map of what needs to be done? What skills should all children have by the time they head out to college? When do you start these skills? I think this also lends into what Mrs. K is trying to say, some parents do not see the need for lifelong skills.”

More Momania Flashbacks

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jarvis

October 26th, 2010
2:24 pm

Teach them how to publically speak. Electronic communication is great, but our kids still need to learn how to verbally communicate an idea.

I fear the current generation’s lack of verbal expression is going to leave us with a group of adults in twenty years that won’t be able to share an idea or sell (by sell I mean persuade and generally market) anything.

actually, jarvis

October 26th, 2010
2:27 pm

…twenty years from now 99% of all sales will be via on-line selling anyway, so verbal persuasiveness may not be required…

HB

October 26th, 2010
3:19 pm

And we’ll all be ditching our cars and traveling via jetpack by then too…

Seriously, teach kids to communicate well in as many ways as they can — written word, spoken word, giving good visual cues…all of it. And while, yes, there’s a good chance most sales will be online, that doesn’t mean that those sales will be primarily text-based. Faster networks have quickly made audio-video primary means of electronic communication (yup, we’ve gone from handwritten mailed letters to talking on telephones to typed emails to talking again, just this time online — the more things change, the more they stay the same…). Online selling increasingly includes video demos and videochat-based customer service, not just print catalogue-style online stores with still photos and written descriptions and realtime service through plain-text “chats.” Electronic communication and oral communication are not mutually exclusive, so kids need to learn it all.

LM

October 26th, 2010
3:59 pm

I hated my step-father and would steal money from his wallet and taught my older brother to also steal from him. He could never prove it was either of us so we never got punished but my mom knew it was me. She never talked to us about it until we were much older and we brought it up to her. She always thought it was just my way of hurting him for the abuse he put us through. I know it was not right, two wrongs don’t make a right, but the things he did to us (my Mom and I) I can never forgive him, it the worse thing I did was steal his quarters, it would never be enough for what he did.

In 5th grade I went through a phase of being a pick-pocket. I had one male teacher who I adored and almost everyday I would get his comb. One day I got the comb and stuck it in the hood of a girls coat. The teacher knew it was me, I was really just testing to see if I could get it without him noticing and would return it later in the day. However that day I forgot about it. He was very unhappy with me, made me leave class, find the girl and ask her to check her coat hood for the comb. I was so embarrased and ashamed I never did it again.

Kate

October 26th, 2010
4:40 pm

I remember reading the second one (Mom threw teen out of the house: When is enough enough?) when it originally ran and I was shocked. I admit the teen sounds like a disrespectful pain in the a$$, but you could say the same thing about a lot of teenagers. To kick an underage kid out of the house under such a flimsy pretext is unacceptable, no matter how close the kid is to their 18th birthday. I imagine the stepfather had a lot more to do with this decision than the mother would have us believe. I’m also curious about the ADHD and bi-polar comment. Did an actual doctor diagnose those disorders, or did the mother? Or was it the stepdad again? Sorry if I sound suspicious, but I think there is a lot more to this story than this mother is letting on.

Kate

October 26th, 2010
4:48 pm

The kid in the second one (Mom threw teen out of the house: When is enough enough?) certainly does sound like a disrespectful pain in the butt, but you could say the same about almost any teen. That seems like a pretty flimsy excuse to kick an underage kid out of the house, no matter how close they are to their 18th birthday. I wonder how much influence the stepfather had in this decision. I’m also curious about the ADHD and bi-polar comment. Did an actual doctor diagnose those disorders, or did the mother? Or was it the stepfather again? Sorry if I sound suspicious, but I think there’s a lot more to this story than this mother is letting on. I certainly hope she’s had a change of heart since this originally ran.

VH

October 26th, 2010
4:55 pm

My question is how is the relationship with the step father and the child? Has the child ever expressed any type of mistreatment or anything that made the child uncomfortable? I am asking because I a guy who was taunted by his step father and treated like an outcast unlike the other siblings from the step father and mother. The mother actually told the child to just deal with it so things would be ok. I really see how it impacted this person’s life. Is there any chance that this could be a possibility? If not, how about just you and your child sitting down and talking asking open ended questions and seeing what responses you get? I know there is counseling involved but what about just mom and child talk….