Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Well Said

By Carolyn Hax
Sunday, August 31, 2008; Page M02 Washington Post

Dear C:

I am leaving home for college soon. My parents will pay my tuition. I want them to know I appreciate it, but I am not sure how to tell them. My parents are hella annoying. I can barely stand to be around them. And I don't want to encourage any kind of communication between us. I just want them to know that I know it's a sacrifice for them and I am grateful.

Glad to Be Leaving

C: "Hella annoying" is a bit nonspecific. Can you cite anything that you feel justifies estrangement?


They are nosy. They question me about everything I want to do and who I go with and what will I eat and on and on. If my friends come over, they try to talk to them and it is so embarrassing, what they say. They try to give me advice and they don't know what they are talking about. Really I think they have no life, so they are overly interested in mine. If I don't do what they want, they remind me that they give me money.

Really Glad to Be Leaving

C: You're glad to be leaving. Check.

You're also withholding information on your whereabouts and companions; avoiding your parents; ashamed of them; certain that, at presumably less than half their age, you know more about life than they do; nevertheless accepting their food, shelter and cash; and you're quite certain these qualities make you the best thing in their lives.

"Hella annoying," I believe, is the going term for this.

So maybe they're footing the bill in hopes that you receive an education in cause and effect.

Parents ask questions because they like to know their own children. And when that proves to be a dead end, they ask because they'd at least like to know where their money is going.

Are yours going about it the best way? Apparently not. Could this be why you find them unbearable? Sure. A kid who finds parents annoying is hardly breaking new ground.

But taking their tuition money without deigning to converse with them? Wow. People reading your question who thought they wanted to be parents are now refilling their birth-control scripts. Please revisit for a moment your objections to your parents: Is there malice? Neglect? Abuse? Self-absorption, even?

No. They're guilty of giving a damn about you, albeit possibly in a cringe-inducing, oxygen-depleting fashion. Even if they're downright bizarre, though, the best way for you to show that you aren't an ingrate is to find some bearable way to give a damn about them in return.

You can do that while still setting copious limits: You can ask them about themselves. You can offer basic information without making them pry it out of you first. You can introduce them to your friends, knowing that if your friends think less of you, that's your friends' fault, not your parents'; it's your gene pool, after all, so you might as well own it. An effort to know your parents, and to use that knowledge to build a functioning relationship with them, is never wasted.

If you can't find even some small way to appreciate them as people, then you have no business using their money as getaway cash. Get loans, get a job, get a soul.


klcstar said...

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Suzann said...

As the mother of a son who is about 5 weeks shy of being 18 years old, I have to say ... AMEN! LOL.

NJDecorator said...

As the Mom of a 16 year old, I read this post with much interest and am taking the points made to heart. I have two more years to be sure I do well by him.

Preppy Engineer said...

I have a 16 year old that sometimes fits this bill. This is classic!

Anonymous said...

I loved this - thanks for sharing, I was telling my hubby about it last night over dinner ... we just kept laughing and laughing.