We’re takin’ it easy this week here at Good Enough Mother and to that end, we’ve got some pieces lined up that you may have missed the first time around. Enjoy this “Retro Rene” post and we’ll be back at full steam at the beginning of the year. Cheers!
My almost 17-year-old daughter is dating a boy who knows her zero tolerance position on drinking, smoking pot etc. This young man has been the perfect gentleman and has treated her very well. They are good friends, go to church activities and school functions together with a good group of kids.
She found out that he tried alcohol and got sick. He is a football player and was pressured by the seniors on the team. She now says she hates him and never wants to speak with him again. I am trying to stay in a neutral position. I know how hard peer pressure is and I know he is in a no-win position. The main issue is he lied and she found out through a friend. I am very proud of my daughter’s morals and values but I feel she is becoming very judgmental. She also has mentioned she hates her older brother [who is 21 and in college} because he drinks. She feels that I am taking the opposition side. I want her to stay true to herself and still accept her friends regardless of their mistakes. Any thoughts to send her way?
Quick story: when I was a young college student, living on my own and working as a waitress at T.G.I. Fridays, I met all kinds of people. Up until that time I had a pretty sheltered existence that included going to school, going to church and going to work. My friends all tended to be white, straight and from families who made around the same amount of money as my family did. But when I got out on my own and my circle of friends and experiences widened, I became more tolerant of people who were different from me. That included people whose political leanings and religious beliefs were unlike mine, the first gay people I’d ever met, those who smoked dope and liked to party and those who lived to study. My world began to reflect the real world and all the different types of people in it.
Now that’s not to say I bent like a reed in the wind; I did not. I still had my own moral compass intact but I was not so intolerant that I couldn’t be friends with them. I learned how to appreciate them for who they were, even if I did not do what they did.
Against that backdrop, here are three things I would suggest with regard to your daughter:
TEACH TOLERANCE: As I said, this does not mean you have to cede any moral ground but you do need to teach your daughter that not everyone believes the same as you do. One of the things I find so wonderful is that when I hang with people different form myself, I learn from them and am exposed to experiences I might not have otherwise had.
MODEL COMPASSION: I’m sure there have been times when you looked at your children and their behavior and thought proudly, “Oh that’s just like me.” There have also probably been times you watched them and hung your head a little and said sheepishly, “Oh, that’s just like me.” Our kids tend to do what we do so it would behoove us to be a little more gracious and kind, to be quicker to sympathize and understand than to criticize and blame.
PRACTICE FORGIVENESS: That starts with a bit of understanding. I would encourage your daughter to talk with the boy and find out why he felt the need to do what he did, including lying to her (though he may have done that because he knew she would not approve). And then she has to dig deep and learn to forgive. True forgiveness is more than lip service; you don’t say it and then file it away in the back of your brain, ready to pull it out and whip the person over the head with it at the first sign of tough times. In her heart, she needs to forgive and let it go, especially concerning her brother.
In short, your daughter needs to remember to treat people the way she wants to be treated. There will come a time when she will mess up and on bended knee, will ask the forgiveness of others. I don’t think she’ll remain this dogmatic in her thinking for the rest of her life. But if she does she’ll end up alone with nothing but her principle to keep her company. That’s a lonely place to be.
Good luck mommy!