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feeling bad about being right

I've stigmatized my daughter.

Natalie's friend called last week to see if she could go to Adventureland - a smallish theme park about ten miles from here - this Saturday.

I asked the usual questions.

About 12 kids would be going. No, no parents.

I know, she's 13. She's at that age. It's uncool to have parents tagging along everywhere. They want freedom, they want to be on their own.

This is the suburbs, but it's not. It's more like a mini-city, populated with the good, the bad and the ugly. Unfortunately, the bad and the ugly tend to congregate at places like Adventureland.

So I said no.

I've said it time and time again. I'd rather be the parent who says no instead of the parent who says why did I say yes?

Better safe than sorry is not a great consolation to a 13 year old girl who has just been outed as having strict parents.

For once, we are all united on this - me, my husband and my ex-husband. Natalie cannot play us off of each other in order to manipulate a yes answer.

She hates me right now. Her friend - who is not a very good friend at all - gave her grief about it and now they aren't speaking. All the "cool" kids are going and Natalie is not. She seems to have lost this friend, who has now been banned from our home and I am muttering good riddance under my breath. It's a win-win situation for me.

So why do I feel so bad about it?

Nat storms off to her room crying, and I sit here feeling bad that she feels bad and I wonder if I'm holding the leash too tight.


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If your teenager likes you all the time, there's very good odds you're not doing a good job.

I think that if you can't drive there by yourself, you shouldn't be there by yourself.

At the very least telling her that will piss her off royally.

You are not holding it too tight. If you know that things at that place get ugly and you let her go and she gets hurt, you would be kicking yourself in the ass. She's 13, just turned 13 if I remember correctly. She's not old enough to go to big theme parks without a parent tagging along at least 5 feet back. My parents didn't let me go anywhere until I was 16 and even then I found trouble to get into. She will get over it Michele, we did didn't we?

If it makes you feel any better I wasn't allowed at Adventure land w/o parents until I was 16.

You're doing the right thing. 13 is too young to be doing something like that unchaperoned.

She may not understand now.....but, she will thank you like crazy later!

You've already gotten four comments about how you're doing the "right" thing, no matter how wrong it makes you seem in her eyes. Make this number five.

You said it yourself, the wrong people hang around there. I'm not saying you can keep her squeaky clean all her life -- Robert Heinlein, in one of my favorite books, said you can't insulate those you love forever. Otherwise they won't know how to handle the filth when it walks right up to them. Their moral immune system will just be overrun with temptation.

But you can damn well try as long as it's reasonable. I have a feeling you'll know when to let the leash slip through your fingers.

I remember so many things like this coming up in raising my son. As he left for Princeton, I asked him if I had been too strict with him. This is what he said: "Mom, you would have been in dereliction of your duty if you had said yes."

Feeling bad now will only bring rewards later.

Our kids are not our friends, they are our kids. I'd rather have my kids thinking I'm a hardass and alive, than thinking I'm the coolest parent ever and kidnapped and raped by some fucking monster.

go with your maternal instincts. that's why you have them.

I sort of wish my folks would have reigned me in a little more when I was a kid. I probably wouldn't have quite as many scars. Don't feel bad, you're the good guy.

Ditto what everyone else has already said. I told my sons that they would hate me, occasionally, and think I was the Meanest Woman Who Walked The Earth at times -- but they would be still ALIVE and all their limbs when they thought it.

It SUCKS because you WANT to say "Sure, honey! Whatever you want!" but that's not being a PARENT. My kids have friends. . .I like my kids but I am NOT their friend.

Kudos, Michele. When my boys shout "I HATE you" to me and storm off (like I imagine Nat has done) I just shout back: "Well, I'm not really fond of YOU right this second, either."

Can I get you a drink? Some Valium? Heh. Hang in there. Nat WILL thank you. (But don't expect it to come until after age 25 or so.)

As the sometime proud owner of a 17 year old male teenager to whom I still say no if I don't like the circumstances described and who wouldn't let him go with friends driving until they had at least 6 months of driving experience on their license I say 'More power to you'!!! I think I would have answered 'which part of NO don't you understand'

Add me to the chorus. You did the right thing.

chalk up another vote for a "job well done." Michele, I am a 19 year old college senior. i graduated early as a national merit scholar, so i started commuting to a university every single morning at the age of 16. I really thought i was all that.

my parents would not have let me start college - scholarship or no scholarship - if they hadn't thought i was ready, and i was. i got a 4.0 that semester(9 honors hours that semester). so i was plenty mature in that aspect.

but more importantly to this situation, even though i was a high-school graduate and a full-time, studious college student, my parents were still extremely picky about just letting me go off to do non-academic stuff. they had to know who was going to be there, what we would do, how long we would be out, i called every time we changed locations.....etc....etc...... i was still just 16

this is me saying that they were right. they knew best. you are a mother and you know better than your daughter does that even if she doesn't go looking for trouble, it will come looking for her and she will still be easy prey.

and yes, say "good riddance" to that friend. she will do better with friends whose parents are also "hyper-paranoid." they will sympathize with each other for the time being. Then years later, they will quietly admit that they are crazy about you and will raise their kids exactly the same way.

this is experience talking.

Bah, don't stew over it. We can always compare notes on who's 13-year-old throws the bigger tantrum...

Another one of us in your corner.

You made the right choice. 13 is way to young (and dangerous). Kids have to be given boundaries if they are ever going to learn how to make intelligent decisions in life. She will thank you some day for sure.

It's probably a good thing I've never had children. I'd have been so worried that something bad would happen to them that I'd have never been able to leave them out of my sight.

I salute you and all of the other parents out there for the tough decisions you have to make. It's great to have a close relationship with your kids, but when push comes to shove, you have to step up and be the parent. I really feel sorry for all of those other kids that are being allowed to go. Their parents obviously don't get it.

Absolutely you did the right thing!! My dad used to tell me no because he had a bad feeling about something...usually he was dead on. Now, I am a parent and I thank him....and I understand. She will too someday. You made a good decision

You are doing the right thing, for the right reasons. Back in the 80s, in my teen years, my parents were HORRIBLY strict with me, and I STILL got away with murder. If I had a penny for all the stupid things I managed to do back then, I'd be rich. If I had done half the things I wanted to, who knows if I'd even still be around?

You can post back to me how good it turned out when my newborn girl turns 13.

I've never been to AdventureLand, but somehow a dozen 12-14 year olds just doesn't sound like a good plan. Strike that. It sounds like a very good plan for getting into trouble.

Good Mommy.

What timing! I'm chaperoning my twin 13-year-old sons' youth group at a three day Christian rock event at an amusement park. This is not a problem for them, except one son said, "you can't stay with me, Mom, cause I'll be with my cool friends." Thanks for the encouragement to stick to him like glue.

My sister gave me a great response for when they stomp off yelling, "I hate you." The line: That's OK, I have enough love for the both of us.

Odds are you're holding her too tight at least some of the time. She'll live. :) My parents were, in my opinion, too strict with me -- I was a very sensible kid. But I understand, in retrospect, their desire to err on the side of caution, especially since I was the oldest and everything I did was "new" to them as parents.

It seems odd that Natalie's friends would ostracize her because her parents wouldn't let her do something. The usual response to Unfair Parental Vetoes that I remember from my childhood was a shared (with my friends) understanding that my parents Just Didn't Get It. I wonder if your daughter's "friend" tried to get her to sneak out and go anyway, and Natalie said no? I can see that causing a falling-out.

I have found with parenting that gut instincts are often the best barometer to raising a child. I would rather have my kid be mad at me than risk his/her safety. I don't need my child to always think that I am the coolest Mom.
They may look mature at 13 but they are just little girls that can fall prey to the big bad world out there.There will be plenty of time for her to gain independence and it doesn't really matter if she thanks you or not. What is important is her safety and your peace of mind........
My kids are now 23 and 29 and you must do what you are comfortable with when they are growing up.......
Wait until she starts driving..........

A 13-year-old at friggin' Adventureland with no parents? No. No, no no no no no no.

Adventureland isn't Disney. It's not completely awful, but I wouldn't let her go there w/out parents until 16. Tell her she's got three years to go, give her some hope. :D

Trust your instincts, always. The few times I really felt wrong about a parental decision was when I went against that instinct. Those were very long nights of worry and concern.
You did good, Michele.

A few words from my parents, whom I hope to emulate soon...

"If you want to convince me otherwise, debate me. Give me facts. Show me why I should do things differently. Yelling at me and calling me names will NOT change my mind."

"The state of Alabama says I am responsible for you until you turn 18. I could tell them they are full of crap, but I take it personally."

"All you have discussed with me is how you feel. Imagine you have a xx-year old that you are responsible for. They want to go to a rave. What you would say, thinking of your responsibility and not yourself."

we had the same thing here a couple of months ago. my daughter's friend was planning a trip to euro disney on april 5th. plans needed to be made a couple of weeks before that. we live in sw germany with the military and as the war got closer, we knew there was no way she was going to go...not with the tensions with the french as well. her friend also quit speaking to her for a couple of weeks. fortunately, the military took some of it out of our hands by banning all tours. the girls got over it and are back to yakking all over. it broke my heart to tell her no, but we couldn't overcome the gut instinct thing. don't worry...it'll bother you longer than her, but, you're still right.

By complete Mistake I ended up on your web page but dont take offence I stuck around long enough to stumble upon your rather sad situtation. I dont mean to come across as a complete asshole but I only mention that because no matter what I always find a way to do so. Now I can understad your not new to this whole parenting thing,but in a sence you are. This daughter of yours is your oldest child so every situation she is forcing you to deal with is a new one. There is a few things I want to mention regarding this situation you face with your teen, we'll reffer to it as the "Leash Issue" I think that your concerned about your daughter getting harmed not by what she might do but what someone might do to her. Now you have to realize kids and teens alike are much more aware of their sorroundings in todays society because society forces them to be. There is so much television adds and talk in general about bad things happening to children/ teens. All the talk of safety and what to do in these high risk situations, todays youth is very capable of making smart decisions when encountered by good, bad, and ugly people, it's like a second nature. Your daughter, I'm sure, is well aware of how to handle herself in an uncertain situation. I mean give your self some credit as a parent! if your this concerned about her going to AdventureLand you must have taught her something valuable well she was growing up. Also in a group of 12 they should be fairly safe, considering no one child would most likely be alone at any one time with that big a group. Now the only reason I'm urging the leash be loosened is because 90 percent of the time the Strict parents end up with the most rebelious Teenagers. It's natural for chidren to to look for freedom at this age so you have to allow them to do so. I think one way to ease the parenting ahead would be to allow some space so its always been there and she doesnt need to lie to get out of the house in the future. Now when she is somewhere you dont want her, at least you know where that is. later!

Kids can be smart, but they can be very very dumb--- especially when you've got 13 13 year olds alone for the first time in a theme park... or anywhere else. The more children in a group, the lower the collective IQ, IMHO. Peer pressure can create very strange group behavior, as everybody starts getting crazier and crazier to stay cool.

ANd personally I have doubts about how many of those 12 kids will end up going--- the only source we have for that is Natalie, and if my childhood serves as a reasonable example, she was exaggerating wildly about the # of kids and whatnot. I give the trip about 40% odds of actually working out; smells like adolescent fantasizing--- like all those road trips I was really really going to take (on 300 dollars or so) every summer during high school.

My guess is the person above who suggested the falling out was over the friend demanding Nat sneak out--- probably right on the money. Or maybe Nat didn't lie well enough to suit the friend, actually said there were no parents, whatever. Chances are they had a whole BS story worked out, and Nat deviated somehow--- maybe her consience struck, or she flubbed it. In any case, I doubt she went in meaning to say that no supervision was going to be there; she must have known that was a major deal blower.

As for the strict parent-rebellious teen thing, that's really a matter of perception, isn't it? A unstrict parent isn't going to give the teen anything to rebel against, so the exact same behavior on the part unstrict teen seems ok as compared to strict teen. Matter of perception; and anyway this isn't strict, it's common sense. Having A parent to watch the children is hardly an outrageous demand. Hell, what does it hurt? All he/she would do is sit on a bench will the girls waited in line for their 30 seconds of fun. It only damages their illusion of adulthood--- which they are most definetly not.

Pedophiles hunt in places like amusement parks; it's their little version of paradise. All those little children getting lost, going unsupervised; so easy to get lost in the crowd with a crying child (who are a dime a dozen at Disneyland), and so on. Not to mention just general scum bags.

Michele, You did the right thing. I have two daughters myself and I constantly have to remind myself: parenting is NOT a popularity contest. Doing the right thing doesn't always go over well but they do get over it.

As a parent and a high school teacher, in my opinion, you did the right thing. Most likely, nothing would have happened if you let Natalie go. But if she doesn't go, you can be 100% sure nothing will happen.

The biggest problem is that kids are natural slippery slope operators. "You let me go last time, why not this time?" Soon, in three or four years, you are letting her spend the night at a hotel, with her escort, for an after prom party, or whatever is worse in your mind. The other thing is that teenagers develop this assumed invulnerability, that is, if it didn't happen to me the first time, it won't happen ever.

Both behaviors, the slippery slope arguments and assumed invulnerability are not good way to survive childhood in a coherent, sane fashion.

Stick your guns, Michele. You aren't her buddy, you are her mother.

You KNOW she'll get up to her own brand of 'trouble' (hopefully nothing disastrous) with or without your permission. We all did, right? (right?)

Now is precisely the time to keep the leash tight. It won't be pretty, or fun, but she'll probably thank you when she's 25.

Good job. Your daughter's annoyance, or tantrum, goes with the territory. It's background noise.
I was fortunate with our kids, who have turned out wonderfully well, in that, when they pitched a fit or tried to work me, I got angrier and more stubborn. So it didn't take a lot of moral courage to say no. Came natural.
No sweat.
I agree with the decision in terms of practical matters. One of my friends got his son a pick up truck for his first car because he had the not-entirely-odd opinion that the driver's behavior is that of a person with his normal IQ divided by the number of passengers. So his son would only have, as a minimum, an effective driving IQ of, say, 70 (he is a bright kid).
A baker's dozen of barely-pubescent girls?