Mission Accomplished.

When it comes to the stereotypical teenager-parent relationship, it would seem that there is non-stop eye-rolling, sarcasm, and lying on the teens’ part. On the other side of the coin, parents are “supposed to” enjoy embarrassing their teens on a daily basis, intentionally.

Jim and I never fed into that. From the time the boys were very little, we have insisted upon mutual respect.

MUTUAL respect.

When the boys became tweens (11-12 years old) and were influenced a little more by their friends, they both became a little suspicious of us. It seems as though tweens start to talk with their friends about parents’ motives when it comes to everything, and that’s about the time when the rumor that parents can’t be trusted starts to make the rounds. (You know that wall that suddenly springs up between some teens and their parents? It starts to grow in the tween years if you stop communicating.)

I remember having lots of conversations with them at that age about how we would never intentionally embarrass them in front of their friends. (Sure, when it was just us at home, it was ON. With company, however, we behave. All of us.)

D was especially suspicious and didn’t seem to believe us. Though we had no past record of doing anything especially embarrassing in front of his friends, he often asked us not to embarrass him by doing A, B, or C. We talked many times about how, even though it was possible we might UNINTENTIONALLY embarrass him (because frankly, something a parent might find totally normal might be the same thing that would totally humiliate the tween), he really could trust us. Eventually it sunk in.

J, having heard the conversations we had with D a couple years ahead of his arrival at tweendom (I just made that word up), seemed to be easier convinced when it was his turn.

Staying true to our word has made it so that our kids like inviting friends over, and their friends like to come over. We have been told that “so-and-so loves how we all eat dinner together and talk” and how “so-and-so thinks it’s cool that our family has so much fun together”. Now Jim and I can be funny (or try, anyway), and the boys know there’s no ulterior motive involved. Nurturing mutual trust and respect within our family and as a result, showing our kids’ friends that we have–the horror!–GOOD relationships with our now-teenaged sons has really paid off.

This was never more clear to me than when, the other day, I grabbed J’s allowance out of my purse and walked into the family room where he was watching tv with his girlfriend. As I threw the money into the air over them I said, in the style of Jimmy Fallon and his credit card commercial, “I’m makin’ it RAIN all up in here!”

They both laughed. No eye rolling.

Mission accomplished.


  • Liz

    HAH! Just went to check my horoscope — yes…along with coffee and you blog, proves to be a perfect gauge to the rest of my day — aaaanyway, my horoscope claims that “Children could prove a strong source of support and entertainment.” In a non-embarrassing sort of way, of course. What? Where you goin’?

    • Melisa

      Maybe you’ll be getting Hopey in for that haircut today? THAT could be entertaining! 🙂 (Pictures, please!)

  • Ally Bean

    This is a wonderful story. Understanding and trusting each other is difficult btwn adults, let alone adults and kids. I agree that your mission is accomplished. Good for all of you.

  • Heather

    Kat is right- Your kids are really fun to be around (well, I only hung out with one! ha!). You & Jim are good parents- I hope I can be like that one day!

    • Melisa

      I wish I had it on video but I don’t, and of course it wouldn’t be as funny if I tried to recreate it but it was HYSTERICAL!

  • Michelle

    Hmm. Good to know. I love having a friend with older – well adjusted and well behaved – children who can be my model. You are going to come over here and Super Nanny for me as the wee ones enter the teen years, right? RIGHT?

  • mari

    That is awesome. My definition of being a successful parent is to be your child’s parent and still be able to enjoy and respect each other. My kids are little and I try to press on them all the time–we are kind to each other and respectful to each other. We can have fun, but we have to have respect. You are my mommy role model!

    • Melisa

      You’re sweet! (You don’t need me though: you’re doing just fine.)

      Your efforts will TOTALLY pay off. I promise! 🙂

  • Tara R.

    I admit I try to embarrass my teen at home because his reaction is so darn funny, but I’d never INTENTIONALLY embarrass him in front of his friends or in public. Same reasons… mutual respect.