I’ve always been a weird mom. I’ve been the fun one who let my kids jump in puddles and play in mud but wouldn’t let them watch t.v. or play video games. We would go on road trips to nowhere and jump in a river but I wouldn’t let them have any toy guns. They could come sleep in my room anytime they needed to but couldn’t eat junk food. I’m an odd combination of strict and fun.
Then, something weird happened. Right when our kids went to middle school, all the rules changed. Suddenly, the other moms became fixated on things that, to me, just didn’t matter at all. And they let all the other rules right out the door.
This was especially true with my daughter, but I see it with my sons too.
When my daughter hit middle school, all her friends got boyfriends and starting hanging out at the mall, going to the movies and parties and even going on dates. But they were not allowed to cut their hair. What?
I had opposite rules based on a simple premise. If it wasn’t going to impact her permanently or have potentially lifelong consequences, it was a go. Otherwise, she could forget about it.
Dating was out of the question. There was no way a 13-year-old was prepared to handle a romantic relationship. And she certainly wasn’t going to be out in public places without a chaperone. I wasn’t going to do that to any business owner. But if she wanted to have chopped-up purple hair, there was no better time in her life to look like a fool and get it out of her system than 7th grade.
And she did do it. She cut her hair off one day to surprise me. And then died it orange. I couldn’t have cared less. She looked ridiculous but at least she was safe and her future was bright.
She made it through her teen years in one piece. And I have two boys trying to get through it now. They tell me all the time what a horrible mother I am for not allowing them the “freedoms” of their friends. But shortly afterward come the horror stories of what happened at the ice skating rink or the park or wherever else it was they wanted to go when everything turned into a giant teen drama.
So, while I let my teens cook for themselves and eat when they want and pick out their own outfits and choose their hobbies, I will never give in to the temptation to send them out in to the world before they are ready. And that’s not just for them. I consider it a public service.