16 Going on…Grown-Up

I have said it a million times…I have the BEST job on the planet. It’s such a gift to get to know you all and your children. I appreciate that you trust me with your questions, worries, and successes. I love meeting each of you in class, by phone, on line, or in your home. Your kids are wonderful and complicated and challenging and brilliant. Thank you to this mom for sharing her thoughts on where they were “then” and “now” as a family.  Love you all!


I would like to share a story with Vicki…but first, thank you for making a difference in the life of my children. I took your 6 week class about 8 years ago  after being prompted by the guidance counselor. It made me think I must be a “bad” parent if the guidance counselor is suggesting I needed a parenting class. She assured me you were worth the time, so I attended. After week one, I was ready to quit. Some of it seemed over the top and extreme and it definitely was going to be a lot of work. Your introduction and humor kept me coming back on those cold nights when I just wanted to stay home in my warm house. You talked about raising resilient, independent adults. I hoped to be able to implement enough to have “good” adult children knowing I could not likely have a kids that liked me as much as yours! My kids are now 13 and 16, I attended a book talk recently for a quick refresher. Over the years, I have not woken up my kids (I did have to wake up my nephew once who needed to catch a flight – it was against my better judgement but he didn’t have parents who taught him differently so I caved so he wasn’t on my couch for a month!), I have left without my kids when I said I was going (although it was very hard), we still have family meetings every week. I haven’t bought their friends’ birthday presents in all these years and I spend less time cleaning my house while my children assist with contributions. The thing I am most thankful for happened this week. I remember a story about one of your daughters buying her sister a plane ticket. I wished at that moment my kids would be so kind and generous some day.

This is my story.

My recently turned 16 year old was at work (one of her 4 jobs.) It was the weekend before spring break and when she asked her also 16 year old co-worker what he was doing next week he said going to build houses with habitat for humanity in WV. Last year she went to Paris for a week with a school trip (she paid for half). The co-worker told her there was a need for more people and she should go. She had committed to babysitting 3 days, working this seasonal job one more week and taking care of the neighbor’s cat. Opportunities to make several hundred dollars. She asked him to text her the information anyway. On the way home we talked about it and she became increasingly interested. Once she had the information she evaluated the possibility of making it happen. Monday morning she was home ill with a stomach virus. Tuesday she shared the details with us (her parents). We thought it was great she wanted to go but given she had commitments and she wasn’t feeling perfect along with the unexpected cost we thought it was best to try to find a similar experience closer to home or do this in the future. She had offered to assist with a portion (about 20%) of the expense. She left the discussion to return about 45 minutes later. She said she tried to talk herself out of this and it wasn’t working. She’d pay 80% of the trip, she could try to borrow items she needed from a friend, she would explain the situation to the family she was supposed to babysit for offering them some names of friends who could help if they would like, her sister would take care of the neighbors cat, and work her shift at her job. She wanted to go because it was out of her comfort zone and she felt she needed to do it. She admitted she was terrified in some ways and did not know anyone other than this co-worker who she only knew from working together for the past month. She had missed the pre-trip meetings, she had made contact with the organizers of the trip for details and paperwork and she wanted to do what it would take to make it happen. She also thought she’d come back with a greater appreciation for what she has. I had heard of this group going and knew of a few parents whose kids had gone so we were comfortable with the organization.

Our only option was to say, “okay, start packing for your trip.” I dropped her off last night to board a bus with strangers we have never meet, to drive all night to arrive this morning to start building houses. We are not worried, because we know that she will have an amazing week growing closer to being the grown-up we will be very proud of. I am betting she’s the only one on the bus who paid for most of her trip. I heard parents telling their son, “don’t worry if something happens to your LAX sticks you let your brother borrow, I’ll buy you new one.” I couldn’t stop myself, I said “What? You mean your son will buy his brother a new one, right?” The parent assured me his son (age 17) had no job or money and Dad would replace his 13 year old’s stick if it’s lost, stolen, or broken! Yikes…Some parents still have a lot to learn to have respectful, responsible and resilient “kids” who turn into grown ups.

Thank you Vicki for all you do and have done for families.

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