Should Kids Have a Say?
First, here’s a quick overview of the family I had the privilege to meet and work with. I wonder what you would have told them: Not long ago, 26-year-old Kristin wrote that she and her five — count ‘em five — sisters were convinced something really disturbing was going on with their mother, Carole, who until recently, had been very close with them. Carole, according to her daughters, seemed to be adopting some new and troubling behaviors: being secretive, getting spray tans (significant because it was something they say she would never do), shopping for sexy clothes at stores targeted to much younger women and uncharacteristically, taking a mysterious weekend trip to Las Vegas, supposedly with her girlfriends.
I really try to not pre-judge before I have all the facts, so I’m thinking: Is this just a mother deciding it’s time to put herself “on the list” and do some fun things? Or is this a case of a woman making a 90-degree turn down “Trouble Highway”? Carole’s daughters wanted help with confronting their mother about what they suspect is an extramarital affair. Now, I’m pretty hard to surprise, but I will tell you, there were some revelations in this story that I did not see coming, not even almost!
I had some hard questions to deal with, such as: Should children get a vote regarding their parents’ adult lives, or should they mind their own business? When children, of any age, try to tell their parents what to do, or not do, should they expect compliance? And is “Butt out, I’m your parent, not your spouse. We have a relationship between us, but this is out of your area and none of your business” an acceptable response?
If you’re a teen, or a grown child (20+), do you try to intervene in your parents’ lives, especially if you see them doing things you consider to be out of character? Do you step up and say, “Hey, settle down,” because you’re thinking that they aren’t being the mom or dad you remember? Or maybe, you’re the parent who has a kid trying to tell you how to behave. If so, I am wondering how you feel about it. Sometimes life is about setting boundaries, even with the ones we love, but it can be hard. The shows sure have made me think, from both the father and son perspective. I have always said that no matter how flat you make a pancake, it has two sides!
I’m betting you will see aspects of yourself and the relationships you have with your own family throughout this story — especially on the subject of boundaries. How would you feel if your children began taking inventory of your life, even about the things you do that may not directly affect them? How would you feel if they did some sort of intervention when it came to your marriage? I have to say, I hold my relationship with Robin to be just that — with Robin — and my kids don’t get much of a vote. I think she would agree wholeheartedly. But, and this is a big but, I don’t think either one of us has ever been on “Trouble Highway!”
Let’s face it, children, even once their grown, simply can’t know everything that happens in their parents’ lives. They don’t see what takes place behind closed doors. To put it another way: They don’t know what they don’t know. So they sometimes may offer very strong opinions with incomplete data. Are they entitled to do that? After all, they are part of the family, and are often impacted by what their parents do.
So, what boundaries should you have when it comes to your children getting involved in your own private life? And what if they are right? I guarantee you will change your mind more than once while watching these shows!