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Does This Mean I Don't Love My Children?

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I must not care about my children anymore -- because I don't ask as many questions!

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Beth Falkenstein: When they were younger, say, between the ages of two and ten, and they were invited for a playdate or sleepover, I would barrage the friend's parents with an array of probing questions. Are there any guns in the house? How about alcohol? Is there a swimming pool? Is it fenced? Is there a security alarm on your house? Do you have any restraining orders out against anyone, and does that person know the security code to the alarm on your house?...

Now if my kids tell me they're going to a friend's house, I don't even remember to ask them for the phone number.

Before you hit that "Comment" button, let me say that obviously I still love my kids -- hyperbole can be an effective comic tool for a writer; in fact, hyperbole is the single greatest comic tool a writer could ever want, but I digress -- but what else could account for the fact that I have gotten so casual when it comes to ensuring their well-being?

Could it be that perhaps I've gotten lazy? Instead of doing all the safety research myself, I have to admit that lately I defer to the judgment of parents that have gone before me. That is to say, if a parent I trust is, or has, also allowed their child to visit the new friend's house, then I figure it's probably okay to send my kid, too.

Or maybe as they enter their tweens and teens, the list of things to worry about has gotten so long that I don't dare even start. I mean, it never used to be an issue whether or not there would be boys at a particular party when the girls were toddlers. No one dared touch anyone for fear of catching cooties. Now I care very much if there are boys present, and cooties are the least of my communicable disease worries. And then there's the problem of drugs. I never had any concern when my 5-year-old attended a party that the birthday boy would be rolling joints since a) he had the hand-eye coordination of a kindergartener, and b) creatures that get high on sugar don't need cocaine. Today, I wouldn't even know which drugs to ask about. Do they still make Quaaludes?

There is one other possible explanation as to why I have stopped checking up on every friend my children have and every household they enter, and I'm sure it's the real reason: I have done such a superior job raising them that they are therefore completely trustworthy and I can be confident that they will always make smart choices.

Did that last one make you laugh? What'd I tell you about hyperbole?


next: Kourtney Kardashian's Fake Post-Baby Bod
4 comments so far | Post a comment now
Nell January 26, 2010, 4:56 AM

It probably means that (like my mom when I was 16) you have done your due diligence and KNOW all of her friends. So if she is she isn’t at house A, then she is a B or C. Also you have probably raised her to make great decsisons and not be around anyone or anything to hurt her, though accidents may happen. When I was 16 I didn’t even have a curfew. I NEVER had a curfew! Know why? Because ALL of my friends had one, and when they all left to be in the house, my my mom knew that I wasn’t going to sit outside on their porch bymyself. So, like clockwork 5 minutes later, here I come through the door and we never had a problem.

Anonymous January 26, 2010, 8:10 AM

I would’ve preferred Nell’s upbringing to my own - I had very strict parents even though I never did anything wrong, because my sister years before had done EVERYTHING - drugs, alcohol, sex, running away, you name it. I ended up just making a mess of my life in college because I didn’t know how to handle being on my own and making all my own choices, as for the first 17 years of my life, they’d been made for me. There’s nothing wrong with trusting a trustworthy child.

Amanda January 26, 2010, 8:17 AM

I had a curfew, but I was always with the same friend, and on weekends I was at her house, so her curfew was my curfew. But even if i was not, all i had to do was call my parents and tell them I was going to be late and that would be ok. They just wanted to know that I was ok. I have a 7 year old, and well her best friend lives right next door, and her mom in my best friend, so well that helps. My four year old sons best friend is also her 4 year old son. So far I am safe. Though my daughter has her “first” boyfriend. It is so cute.

JR Hochman January 28, 2010, 3:08 PM

For all YA writers, check out this interesting contest. Deadline is 1/31/10.

Kidlit Contest


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