Affection can no more spoil a child than the sun could be put out by a bucket of gasoline.
-L. Ron Hubbard
Lord Galen
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Help With My Sniperesque Child
January 1, 2014


Dear Galen


I've read your site on and off for a few years now. I've always enjoyed it even though I almost never agree with you about anything. I'm a 44 year old father of two girls and a Conservative Christian. Not exactly your target demographic, but like I said I do enjoy reading your rants from time to time.

One of the things that I think has drawn me to your website has been my daughter. She's not a fan of yours, but she's actually a lot like you. Reading you helps me to understand her, I feel. That's why I'm sending this email today. Maybe you can give me advice on how to handle a recent indident with her. I'm speechless and have no idea what to do at this point.

A little history. When Caroline was 13, she "came out" as a bi-sexual. I told her that it was just a phase and she'd get over it. I was right. When she was 15, a neighbor caught her smoking weed with her boyfriend (yes, BOYfriend). By the time she was a senior in high school, she was openly defiant to our values and our way of life. All this I understand. Like I said, she's a lot like you and her mother and I are nothing like that. This was the only logical place that normal teenage rebellion could take her. She wanted to be the opposite of us and that made perfect sense.

So even though I hated it and even though it made me angry and filled with worry and dread for most of her teen years, I tried to keep it in perspective and realize that it's just normal teen angst and she'd grow out of it and stop hating her parents one day.

A month ago she informed us of a secret savings stash she's had for years. She's been working a full-time job since graduating high school in May and apparently now has enough saved up to GTFO.

This is what I don't understand. We've never agreed on things and we've always been at odds, but we've also always tried to be loving and supportive and as non-judgmental as possible. When she told us that she was "agnostic" at age 16, we allowed her to quit the Youth Group and all church activities except going to church with her family on Sunday mornings. I felt that was a reasonable compromise between what she wanted and what her mother and I would have preferred. Even when she thought she was "gay" for a year, I only asked that she keep it private and that her mother and I not have to be exposed to that lifestyle (I knew she'd get over it and, again, I was right).

That's just two examples of how we've been willing to compromise with her. Now she's just going to pack up and run away from us. I don't understand. I love my daughter. I really do. Sometimes I don't LIKE the person she's become, but I still love her and I don't want to be rid of her.

Can you help me to understand her? Why is she doing this? What is she thinking? What can I do to change her mind?

Signed,
Sick-With-Worry


Dear Sick,

You and I must be even more dissimiliar than it seems, because my first question here is how exactly is there anything wrong with this? She's out of high school and wants to move out on her own. Dude, this is what's supposed to happen. She's an adult now, it's time for her to go out into the world and make her own way. The whole point of parenting is to make her ready for this moment. Congratulations, you seem to have done it!

You talk about her leaving in terms such as "running away" but nothing you told me in this letter gives any indication that that's how she sees it. She may very well see it like that, but a lot of this dread you seem to feel sounds an awfully lot like you projecting more "I hate my parents!" feelings on your daughter than she may really be feeling.

If she really is like me, then she realizes (just as you do) that your differences are natural. Hell, I hated my parents too when I was young and living under their roof. There were times that I thought I could just fucking kill my dad. The older I get, I realize I'm more like him than I'd ever care to admit. I'm also very different, though, and living under his roof and his rules was stressful and difficult for me. I was happy to get away from home, just as I'm sure your daughter is happy to be doing the same.

But why are you taking that so personally? Were YOU not excited to be "out on your own" for the first time when you left your parents' home? Even if you agreed with your parents and never fought with them, it's still awesome to leave them!

If you want to understand what she's thinking, here it is. She's thinking that she can finally live her own life on her own terms without having to abide by your "compromises" (which are fucking shitty, by the way). She also sees her chance to "prove you wrong" because you think that her way sucks. She wants to get the fuck out there and make a GOOD and HAPPY life for herself.

And one day, my dear ConservaDad, she'll enjoy coming to visit your home. I can't tell you how much I hated living with my parents sometimes and now, whenever I visit, I hate to leave. I've never loved my parents (or siblings) more than when I no longer have to be trapped under one roof with them.

Your shitty attempts at "compromise" tell me that you don't really do well when your children step outside of your control. Oh yes, you let your agnostic daughter stop doing things she was voluntarily doing anyway, but you still made her go to church. No "getting off easy" for her, right? She may be headed the heathen path, but you weren't going to "make it easy for her" were you? That's less about compromise and much about control. But you're like many parents in that regard and I understand it. Now, it's your turn to understand something. You don't have any control over THIS. She's an adult, she's leaving, she's doing it without your help and therefore without any terms and conditions you may have set for her otherwise.

Let go.

The only thing you have any business saying to her is that you love her and if she needs you, you'll be there, no strings attached. Help her pack, help her move, then leave her alone until she asks for your help. And she probably WILL ask for your help, but not if she feels like you're sitting by the phone waiting for her to call for help so that you can be all like "ah-HA! I knew you couldn't make it without us!" Stow that shit, fool!

Your job, as a parent, was to raise someone who will contribute to society. I think you've done that, even if her contribution is not going to be what you might've wished. Now your job is to let her go and make her own life that only involves you when she's ready.

It'll be hard for you, but it's honestly as easy as just keeping your big mouth shut. Try it, you'll be amazed.


With Deepest Scorn,
Lord Galen


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