#2. "You Just Don't Want Us to Be Together!"
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The older a kid gets, the more he or she is going to rely on emotional bonds that lie outside of the house. Not just romantically, but with friends, too. Think about the worst relationship you've ever been in. The jealous dick who wouldn't let you talk to anyone else and had to know what you were doing 24 hours a day. Or how about that friend you look back on and think, "Holy shit, I'm glad he's out of my life. That rectum could manufacture drama from sunlight."
All of those come rushing back to you the first time you meet one of your kids' friends or a significant other who just exudes "dipshit" like a nebula. In some cases, you can just forbid them from seeing that person again. I have no qualms about telling my kids that one of their friends is a piece of shit who's bound for a future meth conviction and I don't want him in the house. But you can't do it with every situation.
"He's just way too huge. He's going to hurt someone. That's a regulation size soccer ball."
Sometimes it requires a little stealth and sabotage, because you know from experience that forbidding contact is a perfect way to shove them deeper into it, definitely when they get into their teens and especially where romance is concerned.
Yes, it's a devious, tricky, shitty part of being a parent, but sometimes you have to weigh the options and decide "Do I tell her she can't date this fuckup with the arrest record, or do I tell her she can't go out tonight because we're doing something family related?" Remember, at that age, she's going to be in "love conquers all" mode, and if you try to directly stand in her way, you are the enemy she's pointing her cannons at. There is going to be a point where rationally discussing it with logic and reason isn't an option. But throw out a few hurdles while she's not looking and you at least have the ability to steer that disaster from afar.
And let's face it, it's hard to take anyone seriously with hair like that.
I know how horrible it sounds. All parents do. We have no desire to jump in and personally pick out our kids' friends and lovers. We just want to make sure the worst ones don't fuck them over.
#1. "You're Treating Me Like a Child!"
It's probably different in other countries, but in the U.S., there are two major milestone ages. At 18, we're considered legal adults, and all the big options open up for us: voting, porn, cigarettes, the death penalty. At 21, it's just the right to buy booze. Before those birthdays, pretty much every kid wishes they were older. They want to be talked to and treated like an adult, but they're cursed with being young enough to still do stupid kid shit.
That's not a bash on our younger readers. Every last person on the planet has done stupid kid shit. Some of us still do. Unfortunately, though, that means for both kids and parents that the "you're still a child and under my oppressive thumb" treatment has to be used from time to time. And, man, is it ever straight-up obvious when it happens.
"I've had enough, missy! You put on your Little Mermaid pajamas and get in bed!"
It's insulting; we understand that. When you're approaching maturity and you're getting a more solid understanding of how life works, you want to be treated as an equal. You want your thoughts and beliefs to matter. And nothing puts the brakes on that faster than Mom or Dad putting their foot down and saying, "It's my house, my rules. When you become an adult, you can do what you want. Until then, you'll wash the giraffe like I say."
The only thing the kid can really do is point out that they're being treated like a child, which basically has no effect because it's like proclaiming that rain is made of water. It's true -- we are treating you like a child, and for many of us, it is absolutely intentional. The biggest thing to remember is that if the parent isn't a natural born sociopath, they're not using it as a go-to teaching method. They're using it as a last resort. "I've tried reasoning. I've tried discussing. There is no compromise here because I am the judge, and this is my verdict."
You want to know something strange, though? We hate doing that. Partly because we don't like to be condescending to someone we love, and partly because it means we weren't good enough with our case to sway you into agreeing with us. It means there's a chance we're wrong. And it means the days of you blindly agreeing with everything we say, as most younger children are apt to do, are over.
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That's the universal posture for "You're full of shit, and I'm calling you on it."
That's a good thing. It means you're becoming an adult. Soon, you'll be the Dark Lord of your own family. Savor it when it comes.