- 1 year ago
- Wedding: May 2012
I think you sound completely reasonable. I could have walked to my high school job and it would have probably taken me 30/40 minutes. I rarely walked it, but there were definitely times I did and it was totally safe.
16 is plenty old to know how to budget and it’s also plenty old enough to pack a lunch. 16 year olds can drive cars for Pete’s sake, but people are acting like it’s way too much responsibility to pack a lunch.
Sometimes part of growing up is learning to deal with the consequences. When I was 16 and forgot my lunch, I either used my own money to buy something or went hungry. After going hungry a few times, I learned to not forget! I learned how to budget my income, too. If I wanted food outside of what my parents bought at the grocery store or cooked for dinner, I paid for it. I learned to either like what was at home (plenty of options) or fork out my own cash. My parents NEVER would have driven up to work to buy me food and I turned out just fine.
Also kids exaggerate everything. I coach high school sports. A girl told her parents I made her run until she threw up for being 1 minute late to practice. The truthis she was 15 minutes late AND I found her making out in the hallway with her boyfriend AND she talked back and had an attitude when I reprimanded her. And her punishment was per the schools handbook for being tardy…nothing physically excessive and she wasn’t remotely in physical distress or throwing up.
Kids will make everything a huge deal to make themselves look like victims and gain sympathy sometimes. It’s ‘cool’ to have to walk 10 miles because your parents don’t give a shit about you and they don’t feed you, even though those kids have loving parents who take great care of them and feed them plenty.
I personally don’t see the issue with the walking. At younger than 16, my siblings and I were going out on bike rides all over the neighborhood and surrounding areas that would’ve amounted to much longer than the couple/3 miles or so this kid would need to walk. In addition to that, by the time I was 16– I was walking the mall for hours on end with my friends and going out to the beach and what not unsupervised. I feel like the walking point of the post is irrelevant– OP was using it to highlight the lengths he COULD take to get food, or he could just have some forethought and pack a lunch.
I also agree that holding down a PT job at 16 and doing schoolwork is very achievable, many kids do it. And this isn’t treating him with more tough love than is necessary, at some point– you have to say no. OP said they literally JUST had this conversation and she bailed him out, so yeah– if he goes without one meal, he’ll live.
My husband used to tell me about the women he worked with who bought their lunch every day but constantly complained how they didn’t have enough money. My husband, the boss, packed his lunch every morning. Kids exaggerate when things happen to them and parents are a great target. I used to call my son Mr. Melodrama with the scenarios he came up with (No I will not drive 45 minutes to get your good hockey stick that you forgot to pack. Borrow one and check your gear properly the next time turned into I didn’t care about him at all.) We laugh about it today, but part of being a good parent is having the strength to be a hardass when the situation calls for it. You don’t want to be seen as the one who will always bail him out, believe it or not, that’s a great way to earn his disrespect. A child has to be allowed to fail when he’s young so he can succeed when he’s older. If you’re intelligent you learn a lot more from failure than success. Constantly trying to prevent a hard landing for your children knows no bounds. When she was teaching at Tulane, my daughter got calls from parents who wanted to complain about their children’s grades. Where does it end?
Ranting aside, I wouldn’t worry about what he’s moaning about to his friends. It’s unlikely that DYFS will be knocking at your door. He’s at the age where he needs to learn to provide for himself, so I think you’re doing the right thing.
He should be able to bring his own lunch. The people who think he should get a medal just for having a job are clearly from a different socioeconomic reality. Having a job and bringing lunch are both normal.
The part I don’t get is how you knew what he texted to his friend. Did he tell you after? Either way I don’t think it’s fair to monitor a 16 year old’s private communications or take away a phone just because you don’t agree with what he said. I used to say some pretty dramatic stuff when I vented to my friends (My mom is evil and won’t let me leave the house! Etc etc) but I don’t think I should’ve been censored.
I just see this as being unnecessarily harsh when the family is clearly struggling. They’re already in family and individual counselling so perhaps bringing this situation to the next therapy session is best. There are numerous middle-ground’ solutions in between harshness and permissiveness, hopefully counselling will give OP and her family the tools they need to find a happy medium they can all work with.
But he’s not lying? You DID ask him to walk 80 minutes (40 minutes there and 40 minutes back). You also refused to bring him food. Also how do you know what he said to his friend? Do you go through his texts?
Here’s what my mom would do: if I called her from work asking for lunch, she’d pack me a sandwich in a disney lunch box and bring it to me in front of all my friends/colleagues. “Hi sweetie you forgot your lunch but don’t worry mama brought it to you. You’re so cute in your work uniform. Are these your little friends?” And don’t forget a big kiss on the cheek with a red lipstick, they hate it.
Something tells me he will quickly learn to pack his own lunch, plus it will shut all the rumours (although I doubt people would take then seriously) of you not feeding him properly.
The situation is not as dramatic as it seems. He sounds like a good kid who just hasn’t completely matured yet.