Monday, February 13, 2006

The Naivete of a 15 Year Old

This one really grates on my nerves and I debated whether or not to blog about it due to its sensitive nature. But here it is, as vague and specific as I can make it while still trying to get my point across.

Background
I know a man who has a 15 year old son. From what I understand the parents have joint custody, however the son was made to live with the father (they were together until the son was about 4). The mother lives on the other side of the country. She was ordered to pay a minimal amount of child support, which she has paid maybe once in the past 11 years. The mother is a few years older than the father, putting her in her early 40s.

Ok,

  1. I would fight tooth and nail to keep my son.

  2. If I lost the case, there is no way I would move 1500 miles away from him.

  3. If I had to move, I would maintain phone contact and see him every chance I got.



Present
This now 15 year old talks about his mom being his best friend next to God. That noone understands him like she does except maybe his dad's mom. He actually let his father know this. He calls her just about every weekend (thanks to free long distance on the cell phone). Since I've known him, I haven't known his mother to call on a consistent or even acceptable frequency level. But maybe that's just me. Maybe my expectations are too high. Anyway, I digress. It really irritates me to no end when I heard this child talk and make constant excuses for his dead-beat mom. She's not working and is living with her grandmother(?). Does he not see something wrong with that scenario. Does he not wonder why he's not living with her? Yes, he's a child. Selfish and simple-minded. He talks to his mother once a week and she's the "good, reasonable" parent, the one who understands him, the best thing since sliced bread. His father fought to keep him, is raising him on his own dime not asking her for anything, and is considered strict and "unfair." I have to bite my tongue when I hear him speak. I say what I want to extol the virtues of his father but I hold back all the things I would love to say about his mother. It's not my place. It wouldn't be right. He wouldn't understand anyway. I only hope that when he grows up he sees and understands.

8 comments:

GeckoGirl said...

I say leave it alone. In time, he'll understand. A few years and some maturity will have him seeing things in a different light.

For example, though I love my father dearly, when I was younger I used to think he was a "square" and that my uncle was "cool". Why? Because my dad preferred Sam Cooke to Marvin Gaye, didn't go out much and wore whatever my mom put in his closet.

However, when I got older, I began to appreciate his "squareness" and see my uncle's "coolness" for what it really was. My dad supported everything I did (financially and with his presence). I never once heard there was no money for camp/dance lessons/art classes/whatever. I never wondered where he was or when he'd be home. We read the newspaper over breakfast every morning and watched the evening news together every night.

Simply put, your 15 year old self doesn't value the same things your 20 or 25 year old self will. To children/teenagers, the strict parent will always be the bad guy or not the so fun guy because they don't let you do whatever you want. But when you get older, you'll appreciate the same actions you used to resent.

notyouraverage.... said...

i agree with geckogirl.
he's romaticizing his mom - cause he doesn't have her with him. when he gets older, the picture will reverse and the truth will be clear to him. time.

Mocha_Grl said...

I agree with geckogirl,

It took me a long time to understand that the people who were "cool", were not necessarily the people who were making sure that I had all the skills to cope with life.

Hopefully as he gets older his values will change, and he'll have more appreciation for who he has as a consistent presence in his life.

chele said...

When he gets older he will see it. But for now ... she's still his Mama.

My 15-year old son once told me, "Dad has a life, too!" when I made the mistake of complaining about how little time his father spent with him and his sister. I was flabbergasted! He was actually defending him! I politely told my son that when a person (man or woman) decides to have a child that child becomes their life. Period.

SP said...

I know how hard this is to deal with, but you have to let him make his own mistakes. This is just one of many. All kids think that the parent that disciplines them is the “mean” one, the “bad” one. As he gets older, he’ll see and appreciate all that his dad has done for him. Until then, saying anything would just push him closer to Mom and farther from Dad.

benthebald said...

Children at that age are absolute creatures. You are mean or wonderful, good or bad, etc. It is annoying. I've heard similar stories before. The bottom line is children don't understand how complex it is to raise them. You don't give them what they want then you are considered evil. You can't be cool and be a parent at the same time. In this case, the mother really doesn't have to do much to gain the worship and adoration of her son. Why? Because his opinion is already made up about his father. The old proverb "teeth and tongue must meet" holds true. Now is not the time - he's not mature enough to digest what you have to say. The good thing is that THE truth will prevail, his version of the truth will not.

Aziza said...

Many kids who have been abused and abandoned still love and admire their parents despite their faults. Even as adult children, many love their parents and dare you to say anything bad about them. But it goes much deeper than maturity level, because some may view other people's impression of their parents as having a reflection on them. For example, when some folks claim that a child's father is a dog. Many kids won't accept the idea of them coming/being born from a loser.

So, in many ways, we can't do anything about the way kids view their parents. Kids are smarter than we think. Many kids are aware that their estranged parents don't call, pay child support, and spend anytime around them. But many secretly hope that their estranged parents will change in time and become better parents. It goes against conventional knowledge, but this is what some of my adult friends and extended family have told me.

Shawn said...

I'm waaaaaaaaaay late...but he's going to grow out of this 'mean daddy, good mommy' eventutally. He's gonna wake up and smell the truth. His mom is wonderful by virtue of fantasy. Who knows what crap she's feeding him on the other end of the line.