Comments By a Nervous Mom After Hearing My Speech

Readers btkedtyhsi
— A mom sent this to me after hearing my talk. (To book me, see my page.) What I appreciate about this note is how hard it is to counter the constant fear  we’ve been conditioned to feel, and how brave and bracing it is to start fighting back. – L.

Dear Lenore — Really enjoyed your talk!

You made me laugh a lot! You know I heard ur story a few yrs ago then seen the episode of Law and order [which featured a 9 year old who looked just like my son] and you are right the media is to blame for our fear.  I have a 18 yr old daughter, and I’m definitely a mom that is so over protective.  I had such a free range childhood could leave the house and had to be home when the street lights came on.  Went to the corner store at 5 yrs old  bought my mom’s cigarettes and candy all the time.

I was probably 10 yrs old going to the beach with friends and no supervision.  Rode my bike half way across the city with friends no questions asked.   Now I’ve been a single parent since my daughter was 1 yrs old and had to make all the choices and decisions and was always afraid of making the wrong choice because my thought was what if something happens to her or what will everybody think about me and my decisions.

My poor child was about 10 before she was allowed to go around the block on her bike.  And never did I allow her to walk to the corner store till way after junior high like grade 7 or 8.
I’d let her go to the movies with friends as long as she had a ride there and home. She could go to the mall with friends,  and  go to the park as long as there was a group.

I still ask her to txt me when she gets somewhere, all her friends drive and even have left for college.

I’m so nervous for when she leaves to go away for college, god she’ ll have sooo much freedom. I know I need to let go, and give her some space.  This yr was the first yr I left her over night by herself I was still in the city just like 15 min away staying over at my finacèe house we were having a party and everybody all our family and friends were there and she didn’t want to stay the night so I drove home and went in the house got her settled and left, she was 17 yrs old  and do you think I could sleep, nope worried all night but I never txt  her, but I went home first thing to check on her she was fine.

Then Prom night, her 18th birthday it was a huge party camp out hundreds of teenagers,  partying, it was horrible night for me, Thought the worst, her getting drunk bunch of boys raping her, all her friends Leaving  her behind her vomiting to death.  I made it though the night but worried myself sick,  all along she was having a blast with all her friends and first thing in the morning I got a call from her saying she’d be home soon.

We live in a world where there is so many possibilities for our children to get hurt or worse killed but she’s made it this far and barely a bruise I know I need to give her space and the confidence to make choices even though it’ll be hell on me.

Thanks for everything you were great! Gave me lots to think about.
Sincerely  Melanie

The Law & Order actor and my son:

Izzy Skenazy, back when he rode the subway alone as a 9 year old.

Izzy Skenazy, back when he rode the subway alone as a 9 year old.

The boy on Law & Order

The boy on the Law & Order episode I discuss in my speech. Hmmm.

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20 Responses to Comments By a Nervous Mom After Hearing My Speech

  1. Emily Morris November 11, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    Nice note.

    Yes, there are all sorts of possibilities of death, dismemberment, or scraped knees and tears for our kids. Possibility is not the same as likelihood. Assess higher probabilities as they come about, find a way to deal with them, and let that be that.

  2. E November 11, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

    Good for her to be admitting and confronting her fears. I’d say the huge prom booze/bash was probably the one that would have gotten me uncomfortable too. There are legit risks when teens and alcohol are combined, even if you are just looking at the impact of an underage ticket. (But I’ll never understand the parents that host/sponsor the staging of such things). While lots of things the media covers are very rare, negative outcomes related to alcohol and drugs aren’t.

    That’s what I’d focus on if I were this Mom…there are no sure fire guarantees, but it’s important.

  3. Jill November 11, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    The poor woman, getting all nervous from watching Law and Order, and worrying about her daughter vomiting to death, after being repeatedly raped. Yes, kids can drink too much, pass out, and choke on their own vomit, but it doesn’t happen nearly as often as kids dying in a car crash.
    Law and Order never has episodes about kids dying in car crashes. I wonder why?

  4. Gina November 11, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    Yes, kids can get drunk, pass out and get raped..or choke on their own vomit…
    But the first line of defense is teaching kids to make the right choices in difficult situations.
    I give this mom a lot of credit for realizing that she needs to let go, but I hope her daughter has been taught: not to drink till she passes out; never to leave a drink unattended.
    This knowledge will empower her against those scenarios better than anything else. When you trust your kids to make good decisions, you have so much less need to worry.

  5. Lisa November 11, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    I thought you’d like to hear what happened at my house this morning. My child did not get abducted – no surprises there! But as I was reading this article my 5yo daughter came over to the computer and asked “Why is that boy in the news?”. I replied honestly as I always try to “He rides the train to school everyday …. by himself.” She replied “But that’s not news, thats just normal life” and walked away.
    Yep, I think I’m getting this right.

  6. Peter November 11, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    We live in a world where there is so many possibilities for our children to get hurt or worse […]

    What’s interesting is that in the world we grew up in, there were the same possibilities. Part of the difference is that when these things happened, they didn’t make nationwide news across the country with pundits wringing their hands over what a tragedy this is and what we can do to prevent it from ever happening again.

  7. Lexis @ November 12, 2014 at 6:25 am #

    The Law and Order actor seriously does look like your son!

  8. SOA November 12, 2014 at 7:47 am #

    She needs to look at it like this. So far her daughter has made it 19-20 years without being hurt whatsoever or anything bad happening to her. Because perhaps she is a smart capable young lady. So she should pat herself on the back and realize she did a good job raising her to be smart and make smart decisions.

    Now stop worrying so much if you can and let her be her own person and an adult. She will eventually resent you if you keep treating her like she is an idiot who can’t take care of herself.

  9. Buffy November 12, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    I have never once worried, in any scenario, that my daughter would get raped, much less repeatedly raped. Yet, I don’t think that means I don’t love my daughter enough.

  10. Arlington Mom November 12, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    These dangers have always been around. What’s new about any of this stuff? The stats don’t lie. Its safer now. Keep raising your timid, no confidence kids. My kids are growing up to be your kid’s boss. I’m raising leaders, not followers.

  11. Tiny Tim November 12, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    And this is the big problem with the overprotective parent model, that for kids who go away to college they go from having no genuine independence to total independence overnight.

  12. Sara Heard November 12, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    The saddest thing about this, to me, is that her daughter probably WILL have some problems with adult life, just because she hasn’t been given appropriate freedoms gradually. That’s what I don’t understand about the helicopter parents; why can’t they look ahead a few years and realize that their 18-year-olds will have the legal right to run their own lives, so they MUST be prepared for it?

    I’m gradually teaching my now six-year-old to deal with the outside world without me, and I feel confident that by 18 she’ll be okay without me. But that’s rare in our helicopters neighborhood. We have a running joke that every time she goes into the pizza joint while I wait outside, the dialogue goes like this:

    DAUGHTER: One plain slice to go, please

    RANDOM OTHER CUSTOMER: Where’s your mother?!

    DAUGHTER: Outside

    Then they leave her alone, but I wonder what’s going to happen next year, when the answer is “At home LESS THAN A BLOCK FROM HERE.”

  13. stacey November 12, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    It is not a parent’s job to provide a “magical childhood”for their child. It is their job to turn out an independent human being.

  14. E November 12, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    @Gina — right, we presume that she’s given basic information (as most every parent does) about alcohol/drugs. That still doesn’t make a large booze bash a good/safe place to be (she specifically said “100s of kids”). Like I said, it could be something as simple as underage consumption tickets (that are expensive and a huge hassle and can effect college applications) to a myriad of other issues.

    Sometimes it’s also OK to retrieve your kid from a gathering of that sort (or prevent them from going).

    Recognizing legit worrisome situations (that one) from harmless ones (going to the mall) is the important part.

  15. SOA November 12, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    For the person that said they don’t worry about their daughter ever being raped- at least the stats on that are like 1 out of 5 women or 8 women something like that is sexually assaulted at some point of their lives. Now some people argue that stat but that is not a rare once in a blue moon thing. So women do get raped regularly.

    However, the answer to that is teach your girls how to be smart and make smart decisions. I have never been raped because I never got drunk out in public without someone to watch out for me I trusted. I never accepted drinks from strangers. I never left my drink unattended. I never passed out in a room where any random person could enter. I did my best to stay in well lit populated areas instead of going down dark alleys at night. I was aware of my surroundings.

    THOSE are the things you need to teach your daughters. If you do that the chances of them being taken advantage of go way way down. Most rapes happen from someone they are familiar with like when they pass out drunk in an empty room at a frat party. Not a good idea. Instead of just freaking out and not letting our daughters out of the house, let’s teach them to be smart. Don’t drink alone. Have a buddy system. Stay with the crowd don’t go off alone while drinking. Know you can call your parents to come get you at anytime without repercussions if you feel its a bad situation and you need to get out of there. This prevents drunk driving too.

    Let’s empower women to stand up for themselves and be smart. It won’t guarantee you will never be raped, but it makes it way less likely.

  16. RedBlue November 12, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

    My son (he is 8) completed his homework this afternoon, and ran out the door to go to his friend’s house. His friend’s mom doesn’t call me to tell me that he has arrived or anything, and I think she’d think it weird if I asked her to do so.

    A few times in the couple hours he was gone, I had what I would call intrusive thoughts about “OMG what if he never got there?” But I walked over to pick him up at 6:30pm (I walk to pick him up because it’s dark at that point) and he was there.

    I call those intrusive thoughts, because to me, with mild OCD and paranoia, THAT is what they are. They are thoughts that historically in psychological therapy would not have been considered normal but a manifestation of paranoia. It bewilders me that the type of thoughts that mental health care professionals would have historically considered problematic are now considered normal and expected.

  17. Ariel November 13, 2014 at 12:49 am #

    Meanwhile there’s me being encouraged by my therapist to “get out around my neighborhood” on my bike over this past summer.
    One Friday morning I rode my bike about 5 (suburban) blocks to McDonald’s. I took my food to the park, ate there, and went on the swings a bit, then went back home. In all, it took about 2 1/2 hours. I felt so proud (still do; it’s pretty much THE defining moment of my summer 2014).

    I’m 26 years old.

  18. Nicole November 13, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    As parents, we need to learn to distinguish between legitimate fears and irrational fears. For example, if you have raised a responsible kid who knows how to microwave some dinner and lock the doors and not trash the house, then you should have few worries leaving them home alone for a night at the age of 17. If they are attending a friend’s party where you have no reason to think there will be alcohol or drugs, and you’ve talked to your kid about responsible behavior, you do not need to worry all night about what if some alcohol gets brought in anyway and horrible things happen and everyone chokes to death on their own vomit. But if your child wants to attend an all night rave with hundreds of kids where you have every reason to believe there will be copious amounts of underage drinking and illegal drugs, it does not make you overprotective to say no. Illegal activity and getting arrested is a real fear, not a phantom fear. Saying yes to the things with little risk and no to the things with unacceptable risk will help your child learn the difference between the two.

  19. Dirk November 13, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    I find it hard to believe that there were zero overprotective parents prior to 1980.

    I also find it hard to believe that a majority of parents feel like the mother does above.

  20. pentamom November 13, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    Ariel, brava and keep up the good work!