Saturday, September 23, 2006

Ask Mrs. Linklater "PARENT POWER" Edition

Mrs. Linklater is painfully aware that she has neglected to mount any recent attacks on the Advice Ladies of America, but re-hab's been a bitch, so sue her.

Alrighty then, let's get out the sharp stick and start poking one of those babbling babes in the eye. Just like riding a bike. Once you get the pedals moving, it's like old times.

Mrs. Linklater, in her infinite wisdom, understands that each generation has its own set of rules. For instance, hers started out requiring hats, white gloves, and a strand of pearls on dates. Then ended up doing drugs in a meadow, stark naked, with roadies for the Rolling Stones. Times change, but parents remain the same. Someone has to act as a reality check during the shakedown period called growing the hell up, when raging hormones can be hazardous to a young person's health. Not to mention anyone standing close enough to get sprayed.

August 24, 2006
Dear Prudence
What do you do when values clash? I know it's up to my husband and me to set the standards in our house, and we always have, but we now have a problem. Our teenage son (17) has started going out with his first girlfriend. He badgers us to let her stay overnight in our house, but we've said no and explained that as long as he is in high school, we don't approve of having him bring home girlfriends overnight. There were a few tantrums in which we were accused of "living in the 19th century" and then a long period of the silent treatment. Meanwhile, he has found a way around the problem. His girlfriend's parents offer to let him stay with them overnight, anytime. We feel they are encouraging our son to disregard the values in our family—something he is very happy to do—and are very upset about their interference. I think we should approach the girlfriend's family about it, but my husband is against that.

Dear Old,
Some parents feel that as long as behavior they don't entirely approve of is taking place under their roof—underage drinking, taping sessions of
Girls Gone Wild—they are in control of it. But these two teenagers are minors, and you have an obligation to set the standards for your son's behavior. He makes quite a case for his maturity: He throws a tantrum, then pouts. As for you, what's the point of having old-fashioned values if you're not going to enforce them? You need to have a talk with the girl's parents. Don't be either defensive or self-righteous; just say your son is not allowed to sleep at their house. Yes, your son will be angry, but what you are doing is not just for now, but for when he is a parent and can draw on the lessons you taught him about standing firm. However, since it is obvious your son has become sexually active, you must have a blunt discussion with him about the necessity of always using birth control. You certainly don't want him to start using your valuable parenting lessons in his senior year of high school.
-- Prudie

Sheesh. Mrs. Linklater is having flashbacks. Why is it, the more things change the more they remain the same? Has there ever been a hormone poisoned kid who didn't want privileges without any of the responsibilities? And taking out the garbage doesn't count. Come on Ma, lemme jump my girlfriend, all the other kids are doing it.

Prudie's trying so hard to help here. Mom and Dad definitely have to have a pow wow with the parents of the girlfriend. But their kid needs more than a finger shaking in his face. Or his pathetic parents pleading with him to be reasonable. He needs Mrs. Linklater's big damn frying pan upside the head.

Okay, Junior, here's the deal: no sleepovers while you are in high school. Period. Not even with your "buddies." In exchange you can live in our house and we will provide you with food, clothing, and let you use the car, as long as you're also home when we tell you, clean up your room and do your chores.

If you insist on sleeping with your girlfriend at her house against our wishes, you owe us $200 a month rent and you're on your own for food and transportation. As for doing your laundry and buying those new jeans you wanted? Sorry, they're not included. Oh, and remember how you wanted to go to college? Not on our dime. Hope the sex is worth it.

By the way Mom and Dad, if Junior turns eighteen during all this, remind him that he can be arrested for all kinds of stuff depending on how far he travels and how young his girlfriend is. If you don't rat him out, Mrs. Linklater will be happy to oblige.

Have a nice day.