Friday, March 11, 2011

Parenting Teens - The Weekend Away

I had my first fight with the Teenager last night. I imagine it won't be the last, but, being the step-mom, it's kind of an odd situation. Unfortunately, I do not have the support of the bio-parents in the current kafuffle, so I have to back down of course, and let them make this decision. It's really frustrating, because I believe it is wrong and has potentially longer term consequences.

So, here goes. Feel free to tell me I'm overprotective, controlling, silly, a worrywort, whatever. If you think I'm on track, that would be nice to hear too. But basically I think I'm looking for a reality check. And also I want to share this difficult situation with parents who haven't reached this oh-so-joyous stage of parenting yet. Maybe it will serve as a heads-up for what is to come. (I apologise in advance for the nightmares.)

The deal is, the Teenager has been invited to a friend's cottage for a long weekend at the start of March Break (i.e., today). This would normally be our weekend with him, so he asked us for permission last week. We said yes, under certain conditions. This included a set of obvious things like parental supervision, contact info, knowing who he's with, etc. I mean, he's 15. I didn't want to spend the weekend with my parents when I was 15. I get it. He should be able to do this.

The problem is, we don't know the family. At all. Neither does his Mom. No one has met or spoken to the parents. The boys are 15 and there will be 6 of them, with the parents (he says) at a cottage about 3 hours away from here, for 3 nights. His Mom I think has at least met the 6 boys.

Am I nuts to think we should at least speak with the parents before we let them take our 15 year old son away for the weekend? Are we not responsible for his welfare? Should we not worry about these people we have never met having responsibility for our child (granted, a big child, but a child still - I think)?

Well, in the (rather harsh and violently delivered) words of the Teenager "that is just not done." Oh really? You don't say?  He refuses to "allow" us to call the parents. And my hubs and his ex-wife have given in to him. Because he says it would be embarrassing if we called. Huh?

Perhaps I'm not trusting enough. Of my kid or of the kindness of strangers. (I also do not get the feeling that he knows the parents well either.) Perhaps there is a niggling doubt in my mind as to whether or not this is really what is happening this weekend. Where are they really going? What is he hiding? Or, perhaps, this is really just a long-buried guilty conscience from all the times I lied to my parents about my whereabouts when I was a teenager. (Sorry Mom!)

He is a normal teenager trying to establish his independence and identity. But we are still his parents and there have to be rules and expectations and respect (on both sides, I agree). This to me is a very straightforward situation. We don't know them. He is only 15. We get to speak with the supervising parents, confirm the details of the weekend, where they'll be, our expectations of supervision, etc. Or he doesn't get to go. Period.  He can make that call.

By allowing him, rather than us, to dictate the conditions of this weekend trip, what are we setting up for the future?

Or is 15 way older than I think it is? Am I being an over-protective neurotic parent? What would you do?

7 comments:

  1. No you are not being overprotective at all. I would say to my soon to be teen if I cant talk to the parents you cant go. I would want to know all the plans and what is happening.
    Sometimes I feel I am overly protective too but really we are looking out for them and their welfare.

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  2. I am writing in support of your thoughts. I have a 16 year old teenage daughter, and I have strick rules. I rarely let her sleep over anywhere and if I do I have to know the parents where she is sleeping.

    Now you are in a sticky situation, as his parents have given in. I guarentee that there will be drinking for sure this weekend. I would also wonder who is driving them there and are the parents really going to be there? It is very suspicious that he doesn't want you to talk to the parents.

    I know from my dealings with the teens my daughter hangs out with (and they are good well behaved teens), they have gotten themselves in situations.

    There is not much you can do but let your husband know your concerns. But know you are not overprotective, you are actually parenting.

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  3. I'm in absolute agreement with you. My parents' rule and really only rule when I was a teenager (before cell phones) was that they had to know where I was at all times. Not that I necessarily had to ask permission. My parents always had the phone number of the house I was at and always met the parents the first time I visited their house and vice versa.

    Even in this day and age with cell phones abundant I would still want to know the guardian's phone number and I would want them to know mine and not just rely on my kid carrying his/her cell phone.

    To this day I still let my parents know if we're going away and numbers where we can be reached and I call when we get there. I would expect that from my kid too.

    With him going away to a cottage, I would certainly want to know that the parents are on the same page as you before he's sent off.

    Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

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  4. Thank you ladies. I am sick at my inability to intervene in this. I don't want to say anything negative about his mom, but it seems that she is incapable of standing up to him. (Afraid?) And my hubs is incapable of standing up to her.

    Ugh.

    I really hope nothing bad happens this weekend. And I REALLY hope he is telling the truth and that the parents will be there all weekend with them.

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  5. I agree with everything others have said. I had an unfortunate event when I was a young teen. There were no parents there even though I told my parents there were. Lily's rule will also be if I can't talk to the parents she can't go.

    I'm a little surprised that both bio parents would "give in". Hopefully all goes well.

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  6. Anonymous2:41 pm

    As a parent of a teen, I totally agree with your perspective and think it is ridiculous and dangerous to let a 15 year old boy go off for a weekend with unknown people. It is also a little strange that those parents didn't contact you, and that he didn't want you to contact them.

    On the other hand, I grew up with custody split between my two parents. Both remarried. I was always (and still am) closer to my step-father than step-mother. I actually have strong negative feelings towards my stepmother. I think this is mostly because I felt that she constantly overstepped boundaries and tried to parent me very differently from my bioparents whereas my stepfather was close to me but pointedly left most of the major discipline and decisions to my bioparents. I know you are trying to do the best for your stepson but I guess I would caution you from interfering with his bioparents decisions. You, of course, have a huge role to play, but maybe a better relationship will result from quietly disagreeing with major parenting decisions with his father and trying to influence events at that level vs. arguing with the teen directly when his bioparents are on his side. It is sad, and unfair, but you will just be the bad guy if 'mom' and 'dad' agree with him... so really maybe the real issue here is not him going, but with 'dad' letting him go without respecting your input... leading to a fight with the teen that you can't win. Just my two thoughts having been raised by a stepmother.

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  7. Hi anonymous. I agree with you and that's why I didn't push it. Well, actually more because I don't feel I have the right to push it I guess.

    I am thoroughly disappointed in my husband. This is something we are going to have to deal with between us before the next incident occurs.

    I find it unfathomable that these other parents are willing to take a bunch of 15yo boys away for the weekend without speaking with those boys' parents. I could never do that. How do they know permission was given? Don't they want to know expectations? Confirm timing? These are still kids we are talking about. The legal implications of one of these invited kids lying about permission are huge.

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