Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Color Me A Bad Parent

But I have to ask, why do we respect the wishes of adults, but treat teens as little kids?

(unless they commit a crime and then we want them to act like adults and be treated like adults)

Adults make mistakes, bad decisions that effect their life and the lives of others, but it is teens that we say "oh they don't know what they are doing, they don't understand the consequences".

They have a right to self-determination and the right to fuck up their lives just like adults.

This question came as a result of this story of the 13 year old who wants to forgo chemo for his cancer even though there is a good chance he will be cured.

I think that this 13 yr old has thought long and hard about his treatment and has decided what HE wants, how he wants to live and if it comes to that, how he wants to die. Maybe 13 is too young, I don't know since I do not know this specific kid, but he seems to know what he wants.

Personally I think the "bad decisions" teens make are more an aspect of a lack of information, low expectations and stalker parenting (parents who hover and have made all a kids decisions and never given children any freedom within their lives).

Our society and the way we parent have basically created the circumstances that lends itself to this child/adult that cannot be trusted to make responsible decisions. Teens used to expected to live like adults, make adult decisions and guess what...they did. I understand that some research says that teens brains have not fully developed and unable to see the ramifications of their decisions, but that does not mean that all teens are unable to make life changing decisions.

If my teen had cancer we would look at all the information, talked to Drs. and give him our advice and opinions, but in the end we would RESPECT his RIGHT to refuse chemo if he wanted to and look to alternative cures.
Of course if he did not want to make a decision we would, as his parents, make that decision for him. I would respect his decision the same way I respected my husband's decision to opt for radiation for his cancer instead of surgery or how I would have accepted his decision if he decided not to do anything or if it returns and he says "no more treatments".

I wrote this comment on Daily Kos and of course was then told I was a bad parent and that they need us to make these decisions for them and that my respect of my son was disturbing.

(and seriously, The Boy does some stupid shit, just ask me about him and the Jelly Belly candy dish, he is not perfect, but he has demonstrated a disturbing habit of making choices that are scary in their commonsense and more adult then a lot of adults I know. )

So I responded "then prepare to be disturbed" and went on to let them know that I would respect my son's wishes. I wish I had added that not only did I not insist on helmets, I also let him play in the front yard ALONE (gasp), allowed him to take walks in the woods ALONE (gasp), don't worry about porn on the web (i assume he looks at it), or violent video games (i know he plays those and seems pretty non-violent), we let him drink some wine if he wants in our home, and would not freak out over weed. Not only that, if we lived in a city with a subway and he had wanted to ride alone, at 9years, after much planning I WOULD LET HIM* and if he had a brother and they were fighting in the back of the car I would PUT THEM OUT ON THE STREET** to teach them a lesson.

Like I said, color me a bad parent.

*of course that means you make a number of runs with the kid and educate them. Wow, trusting our kids to not be idiots. Knowledge really is power.

**of course this would be done close to home (maybe a mile or less) on a street with sidewalks and businesses, not out in the middle of nowhere. I would probably just go around the block and then stalk them to see how they handled it. If your children have half a brain and you live in town, they know how to walk home.


I have also been called a coward (on Daily Kos) and told to "grow a pair" and got this awesome strawman argument "And I'm assuming you would be supportive if the little shit decided to be a heroin addict, too ???".



What-I-Found said...

I have been reading and thinking about this kid too. My concern is slanted a little. I think that he, his parents and many, many people make decisions about chemo based on old outdated scary stories. Getting Chemo isn't fun, but it's so much less harsh than even a few years ago, I think folks remember what Grandpa went through and frighten themselves into making decisions based on old info.
Also there seems to be a basic disconnect here...it's the Cancer that is killing this kid...it is the Cancer that is toxic...it is the Cancer that will poison him. The Chemo (or radiation) is the "good guy".
I don't want to minimize the crap that is cancer treatment...but I wish folks would work from new knowledge, not old fears.
(Also...I totally agree with your parenting...except that no Helmet thing. It's the pediatric nurse in me. ;-) )

Anonymous said...

Just saw this post... Even if it was a while back, I'd like to comment.
I saw my own brother go through chemotherapy, and then die, at age 12. My sister Ellen and I were 8 and 10 at the time. When we grew up and had kids, we took different paths: she protected hers at every turn, always keeping an adult eye on them, long past the time usual with kids. I completely understood why she did that. I let my kids do everything you mention here. And yes, they are fine, people I am so glad to know. And my sister always respected my choice, too. Believe me, it was hard to do, because like my sister, I never had that easy belief that kids will just naturally be fine. But I strongly believe it was in their best interest. I think you are a good parent, and more than that, a gutsy one. And I think that child has real guts, too, and a right to decide.
I understand why my parents felt compelled to try all the treatments recommended by my brother's doctors. But I can't help but wish the short time he had did not have to include the chemo that was so very hard on him. Until every child survives, as long as chemo is even as hard on kids as it currently is, it will in fact be better for some kids if they don't have to go through it.