Today’s guest post is written by Dennis Hong.
On my way to work this morning, the radio station did a segment called “The Worst Mother’s Day Ever.”
In case that title isn’t descriptive enough for you, they basically ask mothers to call in and describe how horrible their Mother’s Day went (that was yesterday, for all you shitty kids out there). The mother with the worst story won a $700 pair of earrings!
Of all the calls that rolled in, one still stands out in my mind. This particular mother lamented how she has three grown sons, none of whom even bothered to call to wish her Happy Mother’s Day. She was most upset by her oldest son, whom she explained is currently living out of his car. Every now and then, he still shows up unannounced and sleeps in her guest room. Furthermore, he “smells real bad,” according to this forlorn mother, so she always has to wash the sheets afterwards.
This poor mother was baffled how her own son, who imposes himself on her all the time, couldn’t even be bothered to call on Mother’s Day.
The radio DJ was sympathetic.
I rolled my eyes.
Sure, sure, it sounds like she has some pretty selfish sons. Especially the oldest one. Sure, sure.
But, here’s what I can’t help wondering: How the hell did the son end up like this? If he’s a grown man, why is he still living out of his car?
Most importantly, what kind of mother lets her child get to this point? That, to me, is the question she should be asking herself.
Having worked with “troubled youth” for seven years now, I can pretty much guarantee that if a kid puts himself down a “bad path,” the vast majority of the time, it’s due to the parents. Maybe it’s under-parenting: they’re negligent and don’t watch over their kid. Or maybe it’s over-parenting: they’re so smothering that the kid starts getting into nasty things just to rebel.
Either way, you can pin that hairy tail of responsibility on the parents’ misguided asses. You see, kids are essentially blank slates. And on these blank slates, parents get to paint the most beautiful works of art… or the vilest pieces of graffiti.
Yes, sometimes kids are born with certain conditions that may lead to certain behaviors. And yes, sometimes kids have friends who are “bad influences.” But ultimately, if a kid turns out to be a fuck-up of the living-out-of-his-car magnitude, it’s probably because of something the parents did—or failed to do.
Of course, I have to qualify everything I just said and admit that, yes, sometimes there are circumstances outside the parents’ control. And yes, sometimes parents do everything they’re supposed to do, but their kid still gets messed up somehow.
Yes, it can happen. Sometimes.
Just like how you can get struck by lightning. Sometimes.
Rarely is it the case, though. In my experience, if I have a student who’s the royal embodiment of dysfunction, and I wonder what could’ve happened to this kid, and I call his parents and sit down with all of them… well, seeing just a few minutes of their interactions is usually enough to make me go, “Yup. That’s where it came from.”
Not once in seven years have I had a kid who’s just rotten, only to meet his (or her) parents and then be left wondering how two seemingly well-adjusted adults could’ve produced a monster of such ridiculous proportions.
This mother who called the radio station? She reeked of parenting red flags, not the least of which was how self-absorbed she seemed in her own woes.
So, the fact that this woman has three shitty kids? I’m pointing one gigantic judgmental finger at her shitty parenting.
Because that’s where the fucking up usually begins.
Tags: kids, Mother's Day, parenting, parents