DEAR ABBY: I was sure "Emotionally Abused in California's" letter (Nov. 2) was inspirational, but fictional. The 15-year-old writer felt her mother was unreasonable because of the rules Mom enforced and the chores the teen was required to do. Then I started re-reading my high school diary. There were many parallels between this girl's complaints and my own as a teen.
My mom also didn't let me go to parties if she didn't know the parents and confirm they'd be home; my curfew was 11:30 p.m. on weekends because Mom couldn't sleep until I was in for the night. She always offered to host Friday pizza-and-movie night at our home to ensure my friends and I had a safe place to hang out.
Like "Emotionally Abused," I also resented my lack of freedom, but because of her efforts, I never had run-ins with the law, never got an STD or became pregnant, and I didn't try drugs or alcohol. When I expressed my frustration, Mom would say, "When you're a parent, you'll understand."
Now that I have two small children, I do understand. I hit the Mom jackpot! I'm grateful for her guidance, love and the boundaries she set for me. I'll be sending her that column and a copy of this letter to you as a thank-you for making decisions that kept me grounded and safe. -- WON THE JACKPOT IN MICHIGAN
DEAR WON THE JACKPOT: When that letter hit print, I was overwhelmed with mail from readers supporting my response and sharing experiences that validated "Emotionally Abused's" mom's parenting techniques. I took special note of the responses from teens, which I'll share tomorrow. Today, some comments from adults:
DEAR ABBY: It's refreshing to know there are still parents who actually care about how they raise their children. Bringing a child into this world is a tremendous responsibility. It requires years of 24/7 vigilance, teaching and love to produce a moral, loving and productive pillar of our society. Some parents today do not take their responsibility seriously. How we raise our children will directly affect how we function as a society in the future. -- CONCERNED DAD IN LAS VEGAS
DEAR ABBY: I am a teacher of many spoiled, lazy, irresponsible and incompetent students. If all parents were as dedicated in rearing their children as this teen's mother, my job would be wonderful. She has the necessary parenting skills to mold her child into a responsible, productive and mature adult. She's an awesome woman! -- TEACHER IN NASHVILLE, GA.
DEAR ABBY: It's about time parents raise their children appropriately. I grew up with much less than "Emotionally Abused," but with more rules and restrictions.
My mom divorced my physically abusive father when I was 3. There was no alimony or child support. Mom did it all on her own. She even went back to school to get a college degree.
Parents are not meant to be their children's BFF. They are responsible for raising their children with morals and social values. Welcome to the real world. -- JACKSON, WIS., READER
DEAR ABBY: My l5-year-old daughter often gives me a hard time for being a diligent mom. I laughed out loud at your response and let her read it. She said, "Wow, that's totally us with the exception of Catholic school." She has started being nicer to me. Thanks, Abby, for validating my efforts to be a good mom. -- DOING MY BEST IN COLORADO
DEAR ABBY: I support a large shelter that houses hundreds of teens who would trade places with that girl in a heartbeat. Most of them have been eating out of Dumpsters and struggle to find a place to wash. Clean clothes are a distant memory. It's a daily challenge to find a safe place to sleep and something to eat. That teen should rethink her priorities and thank her mother for caring. -- SEEN IT ALL ... AND MORE
DEAR ABBY: I, too, thought my parents were "mean" and that they hated me. I envied my friends' more lenient parents.
Now, at 34, I'm a parent myself and working in my chosen field because I went to college due to the work ethic my folks instilled in me. The friends I envied? They're struggling! Few went to college; some are just now beginning to pursue an education while juggling their families and menial jobs.
"Emotionally Abused's" mom is doing an excellent job raising a child in a society that seems to accept laziness, selfishness and dependence. Cheers for that mom. -- SUCCESS STORY IN TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: I laughed when I read the letter. I could have sworn it was written by my 18-year-old who is still in high school. I get the same complaints from her frequently. I enforce certain rules now so I won't have to worry about her moving back in with me when she's 30.
I hope "Emotionally Abused" understands her mother loves her and is doing what she thinks is best to help her become a responsible, well-adjusted adult who can deal with the realities of life. -- ON MOM'S SIDE IN INDIANA
DEAR ABBY: That teen is learning valuable lessons about money management and how to manage her life after high school. Her mother is doing her a huge favor by teaching her the basics of survival. I know, because I learned those same life lessons from my great-grandparents. I have a good job, a nice house, a wonderful education and no credit card debt because I was raised the same way she is being raised. -- GRATEFUL FOR COMMON SENSE, EVERETT, WASH.
DEAR ABBY: "Emotionally Abused" should know that what she described is exactly the way baby boomers were raised, and it didn't hurt a single one of us. You want something? Learn what it means to work for it. Many from our generation weren't allowed to date until we were 16 or older -- and even then, we went on double dates. As for cooking and sewing, both are useful skills that will serve her well her entire life.
I hate to break it to her, but she's not the only child who has endured such rules at home and, hopefully, she won't be the last. If freedom is what she wants, she needs to be prepared to work for it. If my child wasn't 32, I'd swear she wrote that letter. I hope she'll write you again in a few years and let us all know how she has fared. As we say here in the South, "Bless your heart." -- SALLY IN LOCUST GROVE, GA.