Friday, March 09, 2007

Other people's children.

Just a note...
I have been struggling, in my head, with what I wrote to *Ashley. There's a part of me that really wanted to say, "ROCK ON, GIRL!" or "Congrats on being an atheist... you've chosen well." or some other fist-pumping, vote of confidence. For the most part, I tried to do that. However, I have this weird *thing* about other peoples' children. I think it stems from my belief that, short of someone abusing their kids or putting them in harm's way,... it's just really not my place to tell a teenager to openly oppose their parent(s). As much as I might respect their view and agree with it,... I have to stop and consider the fact that this person is a child- someone else's child. And, based on Ashley's e-mail, I was caught in that struggle. Had she been an adult, my answer would've been a bit more obvious and not as "stay the course".

Anyway...just wanted to clear that up: back to my chocolate lava cake. *droooooooool*


Paul said...

Your answer was well considered, and reminded me of how you explain your relationship with your children. You encouraged her to think for herself, and cautioned her against making snap decisions. You done good.

Anonymous said...

Ashley is 16, and while still under the supervision from her parents she is capable of making her own decisions. There are plenty of teenagers who have been emancipated from their parents and now live on their own (my cousin was one, moved out when he was 16 because of his step-mother.)

I think that an arbitrary line at 18 for giving "real" advice is absurd. It isn't like on her 18th birthday she is suddenly someone else. Someone asks for your advice you should give it. You gave great advice, balanced with the fact that under most circumstances she would be with her parents for at least two more years. This isn't like you went out of your way to tell her how to live, she asked you. That makes all the difference in the world.

aiabx said...

I think it is worth noting that Ashley came to you for advice; you didn't approach her unsolicited. I think under those circumstances, the right thing to do is give the best advice you can, which you did in a responsible and sensible manner.

Anonymous said...

it's wEird, girlfriend

Aerik said...

"it's just really not my place to tell a teenager to openly oppose their parent(s)"

And yet, when you think about it, it is not really a parent's place to tell their teenager to obey them!

The problem sits in the very title of your post: other people's kids.

People are not property. We are not born into a contract with our parents. Parents in know way own their children nor do they have any inherent rights or even moral privilege to children's thoughts. These rights and privileges do not exist in reality and they should not in law.

Anonymous said...

it's wEird, girlfriend

8:34 AM

Interestingly enough, I spelled it "weird" until a few weeks ago, when multiple people started correcting me. So...which is it? spells it WEIRD.
So, to all who corrected me a few weeks ago- I was right. :/

Anonymous said...

People are not property.
Philosophically, I agree with you.
However, as the law is interpreted, children are indeed "property". Thus if I gave Ashley advice that directly contradicted her parents... it could've been very slippery.

Allison said...

Your advice was right on-target. You encouraged her to pursue other interests without suggesting that she take action that would, inevitably, make her life much more difficult for the next two years.

Saurian200 said...


You shouldn't feel guilty about just giving someone else advice.

What you should feel guilty about is eating chocolate lava cake in front of other people. Did you bring enough for all of us?

Well, did you?

I thought not.

Sean the Blogonaut said...

What is chocolate lava cake, Chocolate is easy but lava? Advice was well considered and given.

Virginia aka Ginny said...

[b]What is chocolate lava cake, Chocolate is easy but lava?[/b]
The "lava" part of the cake is hot melted chocolate, and oozes out of the cake when you cut into it. Yum!

Eamon Knight said...

I think you struck the right balance -- the middle of someone else's family fight is definitely not a place anyone wants to find themselves (still less being a contributor to it). I'd object pretty strongly to someone else encouraging open rebellion in my kids - even if I'm wrong, it's still me and not the outsider who has to live in the situation, and deal with however it turns out. I think, morally, that gives me certain rights (short of actual abuse, and intervention by a professional). (I should mention that my kids are now 22 and 20, and live away at college most of the time, so we're past the stage at which this is personally relevant).

As for Ashley, it sounds like an unhealthy family situation in some ways -- grampa still trying to control his grown daughter (Why are they still going to his church? I sense a failure to cut the apron strings) and through her to control his granddaughter. Meanwhile, Dad sits on the sidelines, because getting between your spouse and his/her parents is a no-win situation.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Possum Mama--

I think you are very diplomatic and your concern for the well-being of the young woman is apparent.

I used to run into such situations sometimes when I taught biology in the public schools. I would occassionally have students who would tell me that they were convinced of the evidence for evolution but that their families were fundamentalists of various sorts. It was a tough position because it was not my job to tell these kids to defy their parents and leave their religion.

You did a great job with 'Ashley.' You gave her a way to think about her life as it is until she has the legal right to make decisions for herself. You expanded the problem so that she could see it did not just encompass her, but her mother as well. You showed her the way that her mother appears to trust and care for her.

These were all important points for 'Ashley's' well being.
I applaud your concern and sensitivity.

Unfortunately, although many people have the minds to make decisions for themselves before the age of 18, and it certainly true that parents don't own their kids, it is still very hard to make a break from even a toxic situation before the age of 18.

Eva Kopie said...

Dear PossumMomma,

I love your pseudonym. I haven't seen enough of your site yet to know why you're calling your kids your little 'possums' but i'm taking it as a BEAUTIFUL little pun on opossum/the latin verb 'possum' meaning 'i am.' Glad to find your blog, I've bookmarked it. Take Care,


Carlie said...

I think you handled it perfectly, and with plenty of respect for her family. It's really easy to get angry and bitter when the big split of "hey, I don't believe what they've been telling me" happens, and you did a good job of reminding her that her family loves her and wants the best for her.

Kathryn said...

Here's how I remember weird.

If you say the word We-eared (in your head, preferably, or people might laugh), you can actually hear the WE that it starts with.

If you were to start it with WI, then you would have WI-errrred. (wired)


Hey it works for me!