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Friday, October 14, 2011

When Parents Drive You Crazy

Dear Bro Jo,

I know every single person on this planet and their brother has issues with their parents. Maybe it's a small issue, and maybe it's a huge issue, but everybody has them, so I know I'm not the only one.

Lately, I've been having so much trouble actually fully obeying my parents. Sure, I do what I'm asked, but sometimes I'd really like to know why I have to do some of the things they ask me to do, because a lot of the time they seem pointless. Sometimes, I have an idea for a way something could work a bit easier, and I'd really like to voice that suggestion, but I can't because they already have it so set in their minds that I'm just a child and can't be smart enough to possibly solve a problem a little bit better or faster or easier than they can.

My mom actually uses that phrase "set in [her] mind". They can find it in themselves to leave me and my brothers and sisters home for the weekend while they go off to heaven knows where and don't come back for days, but they can't seem to let me say "Hey, this might be easier" or let me drive to our destination using the route I know and am familiar with (this happens a lot, them telling me where to drive, when I already know where we're going, and one way to get there. Lots of almost car accidents because of that one...) I just get so frustrated with them I can't even look at either of them sometimes.

I know I should be grateful, because they give me everything I have and I'm so blessed, and I really am grateful...most of the time. I get all ungrateful and mean and yucky on the inside (you know that super guilty, gross feeling you get when you know you're doing something wrong? yucky.) when their requests start getting more pointless, and I'm just gonna say it-- stupid, and when they stop listening to what I have to say.

A lot of that was all over the place and not organized at all. I guess my questions are Why do parents not like to listen to their kids suggestions?, and What can I do to maybe make it easier on myself to obey what they ask me to do and to improve my relationship with them?

Thanks.....and sorry for the in general not-niceness of this e-mail... :( I've been struggling with this for a long time now.

(I'm about a month away from being 17, just because I know you'll probably ask)

- Driven Crazy

Dear Driven,

You're right; I would have asked.

Look, I know this is going to sound like a cop-out, but it's true: a large part of what you and your parents are going through is just part of being a teenager. It sucks, I know, and it's really frustrating . . . you're smart and want to be independent, they're afraid of losing you and of you getting older, so you both do irrational stuff. Sister Jo preaches that we go through this phase as parents and children so that when the child is 18 or so both parties will agree that it's time for the child to move out.

I'm not excusing your parents. Some of us become highly irrational. I know you won't believe this, but the Jo Kids will all testify that I've lost my mind on more than one occasion. (There are a couple who will swear I don't have it back yet, and at least one that will say I never had my mind to begin with. We still love each other. I think.)

For now, little sister, understand that this is part of what the Lord means when he says "endure to the end".

Don't be haughty, but take the high road. Do your best to be patient and rational and understanding; and try not to give your parents any reasons to not trust you or think that you're not as smart as you are.

If your family is like most of us, and I bet they are, it will all pass in just a few short years.

BTW, at least in American culture, this is at its worst when the child starts driving. It's our species equivalent of flying out of the nest.

Hang in there,

- Bro Jo


Laura said...

I know another year sounds dreadful, but seriously wait for when you are 18 and have a discussion with your parents then about the fact that you are an adult now and it's time for them to let you start doing things on your own.
Now, don't do the stupid thing and rebel, that can only lead to trouble. But there really is satisfaction in just obeying your parents now, even if they drive you nuts, and then proving to them that you know what you're doing and can do it well, and are capable of learning by making your own mistakes for the rest of your adult life.
But don't leave them out of the picture, either! You might (and probably will) find yourself in a mess of a problem and they are there to help you, with unconditional love and support and guidance.

I've come to appreciate my parents even more now that they don't have complete authority over my life.
Just trust Bro Jo and I - it gets better with age!

Jules said...

I was absolutely sure my parents hated me and I them last fall. I had much the same thing going on as you do!
I graduated this spring, and now I'm getting ready to leave for college. With my job, hours away from them every day, and then back home, my parents are the one steady, sure thing in my life, and they LOVE me. :) That makes up for everything they've ever done or will do. And I love them back! Love your parents the best you can now, and it WILL get better.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is going through the same things right now.

She thinks she is an adult, she looks like an adult, and sometimes acts more adult than people I work with.

But the problem is that you are their child, they love you and really, they do know better. They have gone through this, and lots more.

Sometimes adults get stuck in their ways, and they like things to go a certain way. I like to drive certain routes, my wife uses other routes to get to the same place. But our daughter doesn't know her way around. She called us VERY lost and very frustrated. However, she wouldn't stop to read a sign. She insisted on driving the way she felt was the right way. Well, a wrong turn took her even further from home. Now after this incident, do we trust that she knows a better way to get places, not so much. So we tell her which way to go. We hope she learns her way around. But since she knows better, she blocks this good advice from people who have been driving these streets for 25 years. I am sure that my daughters 12 months of driving has not given her the same sense of direction.

In short, to a long reply, you should really consider that if they didn't love you, they wouldn't say anything. If they didn't trust you, you would not have been left home alone, and if they left you home, they probably told you where they were going.

Me said...

Wow, this sounds exactly as if I've written it. I'm 16 and struggling so much with my parents. They have this we control you mindset. I'm not allowed to say, do, or practically think anything without their permission. Its horrible and frustrating. I just got my license last week- and I just feel like things are going to get worse. They won't give me an inch of freedom or space. What's worse, is that they forced me to be home schooled so I get no space at all or time away from them for even alittle time. Home is suppose to be a heaven or refuge after a long day (at school, work...) right? But how can it be when I'm home all the time and its not easy place to be when you can't even think for yourself?? Can you tell my frustration? I'm a good kid too, spiritual, smart, and obedient. I do not want to 'stick it out another two years,' but what else do I do?? I feel like the next two years are going to be long and hard.

Dave Johnston said...

When life gets difficult and you're not certain how you're going to make it through this moment, take a breath, and reflect on how fast the last five years have gone.

Look at how much has changed in just five years!

Look at how much you've changed!

Once you can begin to see that, you'll begin to understand how in the eternal perspective of our existence the challenges we have here really aren't that much to endure.

This is not to say that life isn't difficult, it most certainly is! But you'll make it through.

I promise.

- Bro Jo