Resistance–part of human existence. Hear my insistence, accept some assistance, show some persistence, go beyond subsistence, in the manner and roots of your positive resistance.
My daughter is with friends celebrating someone’s birthday. The text thread between me (M) and daughter (D) goes like this:
D: “Can I watch [a certain PG13 movie] Mom?”
I go research the movie, read reviews I feel are informative and balanced, decide that this daughter hasn’t shown the maturity to be exposed to said PG movie without any Ps to G, and I don’t know who the Ps are that she’s with at this birthday get-together, and what kind of G they might provide. My daughter has not been open to G on even PG movies.
Raters look at movies “value-free,” and judge only by sensory content–visual and auditory. Atmosphere, innuendo, suggestion, values presented and how the audience is influenced by them and the choices of the characters are exempt from rating. I respect the power of the medium and peer socialization too much to go down easy. My daughters think I’m extreme.
M: “Sorry, I just looked at reviews and you’ll have to wait until you show more maturity.Thank you for checking. What are your other options?”
D: “Mom, please. I’ve been nice.”
It is not true that she has been nice, except to those outside of home. At home she has been disrespectful, demanding, ungrateful, and unkind to siblings. She was “grounded” (special privileges on hold–except birthday party) for this. I wonder, who is “everyone,” and what have they got to do with anything? Majority does not rule me in this.
D: “I saw the first one and everyone said it was good.”
M: “It’s not just that. I don’t expect you to be happy about it but I said no. This one has a lot more violence and other not okay content for my dear daughter.”
D: “I could get a ride.
I’m going to watch it anyway.
I’ve seen a lot worse.”
True, since she and her older siblings were given smart phones and free WiFi at home. Not my choice, and my husband agrees it has not been a positive change, nor have the conditions attached been adhered to.
M: “That is not a good reason and you know it.”
I’ve been trying to be nice. I know what I can handle.”
M: “Most teens believe they are the best judge. You only realize later when you weren’t protected enough. I have to be as responsible as I can as a parent. You can trust me or defy me as you choose. Do what your conscience tells you.”
D: “I know it will be fine and her mom is going to buy the tickets. I was going to go watch this with [sister] anyway.
It’s not that I want to defy you it’s just you don’t understand.”
Just trust me.”
M: “You ask me, then expect me to be a puppet mom.
D: “It makes me not ask you.”
M: “Right. So I should always say what you want so you’ll keep asking? You want to stop asking because you don’t want to be under authority. If not under authority then say goodbye to privileges.
D: “Just be okay with it.
I’m watching a worse movie now LOL”
M: “I am not responsible for that. You are. And you will take the consequences.
D: “I won’t go.”
M: “I’m proud of you. This was a hard choice I know. Let’s go do something else fun if you end up sticking with this decision.”
D: “But I’m going to see it later.”
M: “When you are a bit older. Maybe you can see it with me :)”
D: “No, like tomorrow. I don’t really care what you say.
U r being dumb”
I’m glad that this has been a text exchange, where each of us can think and answer in our own timing. Also for accountability–what did I actually say? What did she say?
What can I make of this? I think it over as I stare out at the indigo water of the bay, out to the soft purple mound of the island a few miles away, and the western sky, slicing between horizon and blue-gray cloud bank, fades from tangerine to orange cream.
I think it’s one of those interactions that will only have meaning for her down the road, as in years from now. As told her in the car on the way home, I don’t expect her to be happy that I won’t give consent, that I wouldn’t have liked it at her age either, probably would have fought it too. I told her (in between being called dumb and ridiculous, and pulling the car over until she desisted) that I look back and wish my parents had been more clear about their values, wish they had been courageous enough to sit down with me and ask me to hold off on entering into certain experiences, wished they had guided me more. Yes, I would have resisted, but still, it would have eventually helped me, I realize now.
It was a hard drive home. She wanted to keep going around, wanted me to back down, didn’t want to turn her back on her desires, nor take any consequences for ignoring my decision. Pressure, then ad hominem attacks (name calling, etc.). I knew the next tactic would be divide and conquer. She went in the house yelling. I gathered my things and left to let things go as they would.
Like so many aspects of parenting, and of teaching, one can’t give up on one’s effort just because the results don’t come for a long time, maybe even after the student, the child, is gone out of one’s world. I take a little comfort in feeling I exerted myself on her behalf, that I didn’t lose my temper, and that she cared what I thought (despite loudly proclaiming otherwise). In the past this type of standing my ground has led to her respecting me more, rather than less–I see it in her demeanor. Something within this beloved and strong-willed daughter so needs to see that one can stand up to pressure when principle demands it. Since she can’t think of a principle we both agree on to justify her watching the movie now, I stand my ground. I hope it will transfer to her being able to stand up to other kinds of pressure–external or internal, on principles of her own. That’s the hope.
It’s like planting seeds. Or, as I am learning, more like inoculating logs with mushroom spores, which may not fruit for years, even under ideal conditions. One has to start with a new log, drill holes, insert spawn dowels, cover with breathable material, keep moist, and wait, without hovering. Like someone once said–who has no idea that I listened and am passing this along now–you plant the seed in prepared soil, and you don’t keep on uncovering it to check for growth, or even know, when the plant comes up, it the roots are good.