Thursday, February 17, 2011

Whoever Said Being a Parent is Easy???

The photo below is son, Zonnie and me when he was in his early twenties.

I've always heard the cliche, "The proof is the pudding." Seems to also apply to raising kids.

In the late 70's, my son, Zonnie just got his driving license and wanted to drive to Northern Mn for a weekend skiing. I said, "Definitely no. " A winter snow storm was on it's way according to the weather report. But, he borrowed his Father's pickup and left without telling me. (Daryl, the Narcissist and I were split by that time)

A huge storm came, they ran off the road and smashed the pickup. It was still drivable but it needed a tow that cost $100. No money between him and his buddy but he promised the tow man he would pay him. (Before credit cards were so common)

Of course he couldn't ask his Father for the money after just wrecking his pickup. He asked me for the money.

Oh no, dear God. Please no. I recognized this as one of the lessons that parents are required to honor, always harder on the parents than the children, at the time. I told him, "If you think you are old enough to make your own decisions, you're old enough to pay the consequences."

Zonnie had been washing dishes at the Country Club for a buck an hour. He had saved up and bought all the boy toys he wanted, a boom box, a new golf putter, and electronic stuff of that time. All he could do was call the guys he knew and have a quick sale on his precious hard-earned stuff.

When the boys came to the sale, I had to go in my room and cry. I could have easily written out a check for him but what was the lesson in that? Would he then think that any time he got in trouble, his parents would bail him out? So many parents fail to recognize the life lesson moments.

He gave up his toys and never mentioned it again. That is, not until a few years ago we were talking about the past and he mentioned that episode and said it was the best life lesson I had ever taught him. He thanked me for it.

Today, Zonnie is in his late forties. He is the son who calls me often to ask if I need anything. He shovels my snow when it's deep. He respects women.

They say you mellow as you grow old. I wonder if it would have achieved the same result if I had given him the check. I'll never know. But I do know he grew into a fine, honest man, a good business person, and a loving husband.

Please feel free to give your opinion because after all this time, I sometimes wonder.


  1. I have no children of my own, but I have seen close up what can happen when a parent pays that $100, leaving the young person without a life lesson applied to that moment. I'm sure your son learned many lessons from you and may not have turned out any differently if you had paid up. I think it is the consistent covering for your kids that can end very badly.--Inger

  2. Oh wow. You are one brave and wonderful mum and what a handsome son you've got there!! I wouldn't know but I do know my mum would probably have written the cheque. BUT!!! She would have made darned sure we knew she wrote that cheque and we will have spent the rest of our lives paying it back!!!!

    I guess tough love works!!

    Take care

  3. Zonnie thinks it was the best life lesson you ever taught him and thanked you for it. And that's all that matters. The proof is, indeed, in the pudding. I still struggle with similar questions. There are no easy answers, except in the current relationship you have with your child and the people they've become. Sounds like you did just fine. :)

  4. So happy that you are enjoying such a wonderful reward that is a healthy relationship with your son. As painful as that lesson was so many years ago, it would have been so much more painful to watch him struggle had he not been allowed to learn it. Too often parents feel "mean" or "greedy" when they are faced with this opportunity and are compelled to give in. Yours is a great testimony to the power of real love in parenting. We really just need to listen to our "gut" as it will tell us we need to let our kids work things out. We can always let them know we love them, but it is their mess to clean up It lets them know you have confidence in them...just as you did. ~Blessings, Janet

  5. Beautiful life lesson! Thanx for sharing it because my sons are in their 20's and man is it hard to watch them struggle without bailing them out!! You can be so thankful that you were able to do it and then to even be thanked later for it! That is a lovely gift isn't it?

  6. I have no children so that makes me qualified to tell everyone how to raise theirs---Not!!
    However, I was agreeing with you all along for that was how I was raised. When I came to the bold print, I smiled big time for I was sure that would have been the outcome.
    Ya done good lady.

  7. I think your son already gave you the answer. You did the right thing. Parenting is tough. You are not there to be your kid's best friend. You are there to be a model. A teacher. And that is what you did.

  8. Inger,
    You used the magic word in raising kids.... consistent. You can't be wishy-wasy, I found out and you have to carry through. It's tough.

    Old Kitty,
    Your Mum would have probably written the check because sometimes you go a little easier with girls. :)

    Yeah, I guess it's the people they become. It's so hard to tell as they are growing up.

    Oh oh. a permissive sister, huh?

    Thanks for the nice comment. Tough love worked for me. All my kids are decent citizens. I have a girlfriend who is just about in the poor house because her adult kids took and took and took money from her until there's nothing left for her to live on now. They didn't even seem to appreciate what she did for them.

    Sounds like you did the tough love thing too and you have wonderful sons. There seems to be some truth in the fact that kids have to experience some losses when growing up.

    Thanks Patti. I'll bet you didn't even expect your parents to bail you out. I know I didn't. We must have learned that lesson early in life, huh?

  9. Not being a parent, I tend to keep my opinions of child-rearing to myself! BUT ... I'm surrounded by people who are now reaping the 'rewards' of indulging their now-adult kids - and it's not a pretty sight!!

    Only you can say whether or not you did the right thing - but I think your son knows the true answer!!

  10. No question about it, you did exactly the right thing!! Speaking from experience, there is nothing as gratifying as hearing an adult child say, "You were right, Mom. I understand it now. Thank you for everytime you taught me a hard lesson." It usually means they learned the lesson well AND know the value of raising their own kids the same way. What could be better than that?

  11. It is hard to know how to deal with this type of thing. Well done you for being strong enough to follow through.

  12. Great story! It sounds like you did just what your son needed at the time. It's great to be able to look back, knowing that our children turned out like we hoped they would! Visiting from Follow Friday 40 and Over.

  13. You did good, Manzi! Your best feedback, I think, is what your son told you. And, good for him for recognizing it.

  14. You definitely did the right thing. I made the mistake of bailing my boy out of trouble a few times because he always promised to pay me back. He never did. So I had to cut him off.

  15. Parenting Rulebook, Rule #7492:

    "You must always and forever wonder if you were a good parent."

    Amendment to Rule #7492:

    "Congratulate yourself for doing your best, regardless of the result"

    (Hey, don't look at me! It's in the book!!)

    xoxoxo, cd

  16. Hi I'm your newest follower through the friday blog hop

  17. I share your view of "If you are old enough to make the decision, you are old enough to pay the consequences". It would be so much easier for us as parents to "bail" our children out. BUT, then what would we teaching them? To me, a parent is to help guide a child to be a self efficient, productive, part of society and the lessons they learn while in your home reflect the person they will become. Of course, it is their choice on how they choose to react and learn from events that happen.
    Your deeds were done out of love, not convenience. Your son knows that and he appreciates it. Yes, parenting can be trial and error, but isn't all of life?
    Your newest follower~

  18. Robin,
    You said it. We can't be buddies with our kids. They have the little people for that. We have to stand tall and be a teacher.

    Red Nomad Oz.
    And it's difficult to teach them to be "good citizens." But, if you don't, it certainly is noticed when they're adults.

    Thank you for your "oh so wise comment." You have a great observation of life.

    It's so easy when they're little, you just feed and protect them. The hard part comes as they mold into adults.

  19. Deb,
    You too, went through the critical period. So we all understand. Thanks for the comment.

    I said I would be like the drill sargent in the Geico ad and I may have raised kids like that too. I just didn't want them to be the cry baby on the couch.

    I'm so sorry. He may come around some day and surprise you. I'm sending good energy your way that he will.

    You always bring out a chuckle. Thanks for the great advice.

    Thanks for the comment. I hopped right over to your blog and was delighted at what I saw. I will be back to visit you again.

    What a wise comment. I appreciate your wisdom and thank you for sharing it. I will be by and visit your blog.

    Thank you dear bloggy friends. I love you all. Manzanita

  20. Hello! Thanks so much for the follow, especially as it led me to your blog today, to read this post. I have tears in my eyes. That must have been a heart-wrenching lesson to teach, and as a fairly new mother (my kids are 12 and 10 -- I'm early in my on-the-job-training), I truly appreciate you sharing it today.

    Thank goodness he wasn't hurt in the wreck. I was so afraid that's where the story was going!

    It's great to meet you! Have a wonderful weekend!

  21. I try to let "Sheldon" find her own way but it can be hard to keep from wanting to save her.

  22. That was a great life lesson. It would do most kids a lot of good to learn that one these days. It is one of the hardest ones to teach..and to learn.

    New follower.

  23. Nichole,
    You're half way there to adulthood for your kids. Take a deep breath and continue Ha.

    Mrs. Tuna,
    It's good to let them make their own mistakes after they are adults. At least it works for my family. thanks for the comment.

    As I always said, teaching your kids is harder on the parents. Thanks Elle.


  24. I used the same recipe when raising my kids. It was so, so hard sometimes but yes it does work. I have friends that have put them selves into serious debt for their kids and continue to do so even though the kids are in their forties. I say these kids will be no where around when their parents need help in a few years!
    Happy Weekend:)

  25. Good mom!
    I think you did the right thing!
    I just wonder if I was in that situation, if I would've thought about the selling his stuff solution.
    I'm filing it away in the back of my brain in case--Heaven forbid--I have to face that situation in a few years.
    I think the greatest compliment to a parent is a kid who still wants to come home (not to live and mooch off the parents, mind you) and see his mom and/or dad.

  26. Tough love. That's what it's called. And my husband is the sappiest about it. He's the one that breaks down and doles out the money when one of the kids gets into a money crisis.

    I'm the one that says, let them deal with it.

    It killed you to see your son having to sell his possessions, but he knew he screwed up and it hit home for him. He knew enough to take responsibility. You did good holding your ground!

    My husband is so afraid the kids going to turn to selling drugs.

    They're old enough to know. They will suffer the consequences and learn from it. Unfortunately, he and I are the ones that have to suffer through it also.

    Parenting sucks. It really does.

  27. Doreen,
    I absolutely agree. A girlfriend did the same thing with her kids. She gave them money and houses when they were adults and now she's broke and they blew all of their money too. Doesn't work.

    Big D,
    I hope you never have to use it. Girls often don't get into as much trouble as boys. (Often don't, I said)

    You get my vote. If my Mother had once bailed me out, I would assume she was a "patsy" and I'd probably keep getting in trouble thinking she'd bail me out. But I knew she never would so I rarely screwed up. But in those days there wasn't the drug problem for kids like your husband is afraid of today. That's another can of worms we don't want to open.

  28. That was a perfect life lesson for your son. I only wish my parents would have taught my youngest brother a life lesson, instead of bailing him out until the day they passed. Now he has no one to bail him out and has made so many bad choices.

  29. Shawn,
    You are so right. It is so much easier to learn the lessons when still a teen ager than an adult. I know that at times my kids thought I was the drill sargent and most likely hated me for it at the time, but not one grew into a namby pamby.... like the crybaby geico ad. No wonder that is my favorite. Ha.

  30. tough love works! it hurts us more than it hurts them...

  31. I loved reading this. It gives me the strength and courage to stand firm when necessary, and I believe it is necessary. There are so many situations (of my son's own making) that it pains me for him to go through. I needed to know it is worth it.

  32. Angel-Star
    It really does work. If my Mother had backed down once, I would have thought she was weak and I would think I could get away with anything.

    Trust me, he needs that pain in order to learn. He has his own reasons for being here. Parents have to allow kids to work through their things on their own. He will later honor and respect you for it. Thanks for the neat comment.

  33. I am so glad you stopped by my blog today. I have other blogs as well. I love your blog and glad I found it. Now following.

  34. As hard as it was for you at the time, look how it all turned out. What a wonderful thing for you both. More for Zonnie. You should be proud.

  35. I'm not sure if I would of been strong enough to do that. I think your way was the best way. The very best way.
    Thank you for sharing and I sure do love the photo of your two.