December 17, 2004

parenting extremes

I just read an article that persuasively claims that the current popularity of gangsta rap among teenagers is because a main topic of the songs is parental abandonment and so many kids can identify with that. The main effect it's had on me is to make me feel sorry for the parents, because I also recently read an article on how many of them are being overprotective and smothering their children. What's a parent to do? Damned if they care too much, damned if they don't care enough. Obviously the ideal is to care for their kids while teaching them independence at the same time, but I can see where one step on either side of the ideal middle path would get you accused of one thing or another. I suspect these two cases are about non-intersecting sets of parents, but still, when something like that becomes common enough to be a big societal issue it's got to be hard for any one parent not to be affected by the perception of leaning to one side or the other. No wonder I don't have kids.

Also, I've seen where even necessary divorces, where the incompatibility had become unbearable after a longterm marriage, even when both parents stayed involved and did care about and care for the kids, were perceived as abandonment by teenagers. Possibly some people at that reactive and hormonal age are apt to feel abandoned or smothered or both alternately no matter what. (Not all, though: I know some eminently sane and well-judging people in their teens.)

Just some family stuff below the cut tag - I needed to vent.

Thankful that:My parents didn't either abandon or overprotect me.
Holiday Challenge:Only 25800 to go!

Meanwhile I wish I could abandon a parent at this point. I don't like to talk about it in this public forum much because it's not my own story to tell, but my Dad is bipolar and is going through a manic stage right now. (I mean, right now: I just got off the phone with my brother who asked me to try to persuade him not to buy $90 shoes he doesn't need and usually wouldn't want.) I'm beginning to think that the stigma mental health issues have/had are at least partly because people who have them are so, so maddening to deal with. As Mom says, if you have a physical illness, you're generally willing to take your medicine and do something about it. Mania is lots of fun for the person having it, though not so much for those around them trying to protect their health/safety/career/finances/relationships, so the patient has little incentive to get better.

This is hard on me. It's much harder on my brother who's right nearby and has drawn a lot of babysitting (Dadsitting) duty, and it's becoming nearly unbearable for my Mom. Fortunately they've got good health insurance and Mom's got lots of understanding people at work (she works at an inpatient mental health center for people with longterm disabilities). I hope they can get him hospitalized, because I think he's getting worse.

Posted by dichroic at December 17, 2004 12:34 PM

I'm sorry about your dad. My dad won't take his medication except under duress either.

Posted by: golfwidow at December 18, 2004 06:05 AM

Sorry about your dad. Any kind of mental illness is always difficult to deal with, and I hope that your mum will be able to get a break if your dad gets hospitalised.

I agree about the parenting always seems to be that case of damned if you do, damned if you don't. Growing up I remember swearing to myself there were things I'd do differently from the way my parents raised me if I had kids, but already, even without the kids yet, I feel myself realising why they did what they did.

Is smacking a big issue over there? There seem to be lots of debates here about whether it should be banned or not...

Posted by: ruthie at December 19, 2004 03:25 AM
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