Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Mom, You Look Like A Hooker"

...says the 17-year old daughter to her 40-something divorced mother, in a new battlefront in the age-old war between youthful rebellion and the "wisdom" of one's elders.

Originally from Seventeen magazine, an article counseling on "...a new wave of moms [doing] more than making you blush: They act so sexy and flirtatious, they make you question their judgment — and your own sanity."

... Meghan, 17, says her 46-year-old mom dated the same guy who'd dated one of her 18-year-old friends; Hunter, 18, sometimes feels as if her friends like her cougar mom more than they like her; and Jessica, 16, reports that ever since her parents got divorced last year, her mom "dresses up in short skirts and dates guys who are barely 25, then tells me everything about her sex life. It's so awkward."
...
[G]irls who are cool with cougar moms are the exception: The majority of girls who shared their stories with Seventeen wished their moms would change their embarrassing ways. Take Erica, 17. After her parents split up two years ago, her mom dyed her hair blonde and started wearing clothes "so tight they could be mistaken for a second skin." But that wasn't as traumatizing as what she says her mom started doing next: partying all night at clubs and sometimes not even coming home. After a few months, Erica says her mom even drained Erica's college tuition money to buy herself breast implants. "One night, a friend called to tell me she saw my mom leave a club with some guy," Erica says. "Hours after the call, my mom still wasn't home, so I made my dad drive around town with me to look for her — I was worried she could be hurt or in an accident." When Erica arrived at the club to look for her mom, she found her — in a car, hooking up with a guy who'd recently graduated from Erica's high school! "I was so humiliated and angry. I shouldn't have to be a 17-year-old babysitting a 40-year-old woman. It's not cool at all to have a cougar mom. I feel totally robbed of being a teenager."
[...]
But some moms do change. Jessica, 17, says that after her parents' divorce, her mom was a total cougar. "She started dressing younger than she was and went through younger boyfriends like crazy," Jessica says. "I felt like her new life was more important to her than I was. But one day when she came out wearing a fishnet tube top and super-short shorts with three-inch heels, I flat out told her, 'Mom, you look like a hooker.' She treated it like a huge wake-up call, and it got us talking. ... Soon after that, everything changed: She broke up with her boyfriend, got a job, started acting her age, and made me a priority."

It's seems pretty hit-or-miss whether or not a parent can successfully pass their values along to their children, just as there's no guarantee that every student will automatically absorb the lessons laid out by their teacher.

When we witness examples of bad kids emerging from good homes, we might despair at these lack of guarantees. In the big picture view, however, I wonder whether the incalculability of the learning process is, in fact, the Lesser of Evils, if it allows for young people seemingly hopeful of living good lives, to see brazen examples of how *not* to become better people, and to possess the reasoned ability to reject them.

Surely this is preferable to the alternative, that would see the young student of life simply adopting modeled behavior unquestionably, unhesitantly, with no self-examination involved in the process; for what happens when, as in the above examples, the student is presented with a far-from-worthy teacher?

As my best teacher, my mom, once put it to me after I had been too successful, and too unquestioning, a student of unworthy behavior:

"If your friends all jumped off a cliff, would you jump off too??"

Thank God for the gift of Free Will, acting sometimes as brake as well as gas pedal to help us negotiate the many roads we travel through life.

[Thanks to Laura at The Thinking Housewife, home to many thoughtful discussions about all the important lessons that you'd never learn in school]

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