No Refunds or Exchanges

   

     This afternoon, I was waiting for my husband to move his car so I could park in the driveway when I saw the neighbor’s teenage son, “D”. He walked up to my car and I asked him how he was doing and I told him that I was worried about him. Hubby had seen him the day before with all his bags packed and walking in the cold in a flimsy jacket. He arrived this way on his father’s doorstep. You see, his father lives next door to me with his girlfriend and “D” lives with his mother and usually has visitation with his father on the weekends. Unfortunately, this commonly occurs that “D” is kicked out by Mom and has to come to his father’s house seeking refuge. Luckily, his father always welcomes him with open arms and he has a wonderful Stepmother who treats him like her own son.

    As he was explaining to me what had happened between he and his mother, I could see the sadness in his eyes. He told me that he argues with his mother all the time and that, when she gets upset, she tells him to pack his things and leave the house. I’m sure that I was looking at him with a horrified look on my face because he began to defend her by saying, “It’s good that we get this time apart from each other to cool off separately.” It broke my heart to hear a 16 year old boy make excuses for the fact that his own mother kicked him out on the street.  I just nodded and smiled as he confided in me because I did not want him to feel like he couldn’t talk to me because I was passing judgment on his mother.

    I shared my conversation with my husband later on and he asked me, “What kind of a mother puts her kid out on the street like that?”  Honestly, I didn’t have an answer for him because there is nothing that either one of my sons could do that would prompt me to put them out of my house.  Let me add that “D” is a pretty good kid who does all of the normal and annoying things that teenagers do such as spending too much time on the phone and the computer and pushing the limits of his curfew.  I’m just at a loss as to how any parent could be so uncaring towards their child.  The sad part is that, as an educator, I hear about this phenomenon more and more of parents putting their children out on the street or sending them to live with other family members.

    I’m sorry but I don’t recall there being a refund or return policy on my children.  We don’t get to turn our back on them just because they deviate from the life plan that we have set out for them.  In this case, I’m not even going to try to defend this mother by giving her the benefit of the doubt and saying that maybe she just lost her cool and messed up.  The reason why I have no sympathy for her is that this is probably the third time that I have seen this boy walking up the street with his bags because she put him out of her house.  Whenever parenting him becomes too difficult for her or inconveniences her she takes the easy way out and just gives up on him.  What kind of life lessons is he learning from these experiences?  I would say that he is learning how to be let down by the one person that he is supposed to trust and depend on the most.

    I can connect personally to this because my parents put me out of the house when I was in college.  Their reason for this was that I refused to adhere to their curfew and stayed out past the time they had told me to come home.  I was resentful of these rules because I had moved back in after my divorce and I felt that it was ridiculous for them to try to impose rules on me at age 21.  In any case, it was their house so I left.  Even at the age of 21, I cannot begin to tell you how abandoned I felt by them at that very moment.  They hurt me very much by making me move out and it took a really long time for me to trust them again and to want to communicate with them.  Their actions almost completely alienated me as their daughter.

    Those of you who are reading this, and have children, remember to always keep the communication open between the both of you.  Children are seldom going to act exactly the way we want them to at all times.  Don’t ever make them feel like “D” feels every single time his mother kicks him out on the street, like she has given up on him.  They are yours and you don’t get to just cast them off like some old pair of shoes.  You must be a parent to them and accept them at their best and at their worst.

© 2010, Tough Cookie Mommy. All rights reserved.

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  • http://eschelle-mumfection.blogspot.com/ Eschelle

    at least hes ONLY being kicked out by his mother… i have heard mother’s do way worse things than that. bittersweet blessing that, that’s it. My gf has been living on her own since she was 15 since her mother is a drug addict who would sell her off for money. Boy is lucky one that his mom is only kicking him out and TWO that he has somewhere to go. This girl is now raising her 16 yr old sister as a 25 yr old woman… life is rough, just be thankful for the things you have even if they aren’t that amazing or wonderful. No one is perfect. My mom even kicked me out once, just happens.

    • http://www.toughcookiemommy.com Tough Cookie Mommy

      Eschelle, I agree with you that things could always get worse and that we should be thankful for all of our blessings. However, it is not okay for a parent to do any of these things to their child including what has happened to your friend. Believe me, I know better than anyone about the atrocities that some parents inflict upon their children since I am an educator. The point I’m making is that, just because these things take place in our society, doesn’t make them okay.

  • http://www.instantdane.tv Dane Findley

    Maria, I like the way you share stories with real-life examples. It makes it so interesting to read. You are inspiring me to add more real-life into my own features (instead of just being theoretical).

    • http://www.toughcookiemommy.com Tough Cookie Mommy

      Hi, Dane. I’m glad that I’ve inspired you to add a more personal touch to your posts. I find that it comes very easily to me to relate the events that take place in my life daily to my writing. It’s good to see you here.

  • http://booksandbane.blogspot.com Michele Powell

    These stories break my heart and are FAR to common these days. My daughter has so many friends that are in this vary same situation. When I was growing this was not the case. I was to odd child. I was the outcast. I was the child who lived with her friends families off and on all through high school because her parent was a drug dealer and preferred to be with the man in her life that beat me up rather than take me back in. I was the child who spent almost 3 years right out of high school living on the streets. I am the adult that still bares these wounds in my mothers presence.
    I am also the mom that has the children that have never needed to be on restriction or that have had trouble in school or with their friends. My point is that sometimes, some times, these people grow and remember and use that to be the best people and parents that they can be. Even with so little to go on, those few people and parents of friends that helped me along the way had a far bigger impact on my life than my mothers lack of care.
    Bravo to you for letting this boy know that you do just that… CARE. He will remember.

    • http://www.toughcookiemommy.com Tough Cookie Mommy

      Michele, I am so sorry that you had to go through these things as a young woman. The important thing is that you have broken this cycle and have decided to parent differently when it comes to your own children. This is definitely something for you to feel proud of after everything you went through. Thank you so much for sharing your story with my readers and I.

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  • http://www.alittlecupofcomfort.blogspot.com Kasey

    This is so sad and all too common. My parents would never think of throwing us out, although I’m sure there were times that I would wanted to. My brother and I had friends in high school who seemed to always be thrown out of their home and my mom would always take them in. She would try to talk to the kids and to the moms. Talking to the moms was usually useless and my mom would be so upset after each conversation. It was something she could never understand. Even when she was terminally ill she welcomed someone into her home. When she was starting to get too sick and it was just too much, she reached out to the boys mom (someone she’s known for 20+ years) and told her how her son is changing for the better and needs a second chance. She begged this woman, partly for the boy and partly because my mom was just too sick. The woman wouldn’t take him back. This kid had no chance if my mom didn’t give it to him, so she let him stay.

    All kids are going to make mistakes, push parent’s buttons, and test their limits. Some may even mess up really bad but at the end of the day, a parent’s role is to help them through it. Especially through teenage years and early adulthood. You’re right, there is no return policy and we can’t give up just because we are tired of dealing. I’m glad “D” has a dad and step mom who are there for him because that’s what keeps a kid grounded.

    • http://www.toughcookiemommy.com Tough Cookie Mommy

      Kasey, that was exactly the point that I was trying to make with this post. I know that children will not always be perfect and that they will try to push the envelope as adolescents. We can’t just throw in the towel, as their parents, when this happens. At the end of the day, we are ultimately responsible for them. Your mother was a great woman and I’m sure she changed the lives of a lot of young people due to her generosity and kindness.

  • http://mominmanagement.com Daria

    So sad. On many levels, but the one that gets to me the most, is itt’s a shame that kids feel they have to defend their parents.

    We had our older sons’ mom call and ask hubby to pick up DS#1 because she couldn’t handle him. She didn’t kick him out on the street though. I know another time she told him that if he didn’t change his behavior he would have to come live with us permanently because he was lying and not listening to her. I was annoyed that Dad’s house was being used as punishment, but can understand being at your wits end.

    As you know, the boys haven’t been to our house in over a year and so that feels like we’ve abandoned them – even if it was their mom’s and their actions and decision to stop coming over. I feel it was partly due to the years of Dad’s being the threat if they didn’t shape up, but who really knows.

    It’s a tough one. No, kids don’t come with a return policy, but what do you do when they are out of control? Maybe the other parent is a better choice if it means they will shape up.

    I have never been in that situation and never even come close to feeling, let alone saying that my kids couldn’t stay with me. I remember getting a year’s rental on a storage locker as a college graduation present because my parents said – you can’t bring your things to our house. 20 years later and I still think about that.

    I think perhaps the defining line is like Michele mentioned – that you make sure you are doing it because you CARE and that you make sure to convey that you Care and that is the basis for the decision. Just being mad and spouting off repeatedly doesn’t work and isn’t consistent parenting – but rational decisions that are in the best interest of the kids’ sometimes may lead to saying they’d be better off somewhere else….

    • http://www.toughcookiemommy.com Tough Cookie Mommy

      Daria, I understand that sometimes one parent may need a breather or a “time out” and send the child to the other parent. In this case, it happens regularly which indicates to me that there is a bigger problem. Plus, the fact that she kicks him out into the cold and doesn’t even concern herself with his safety is unacceptable. To me, she treats him like an inconvenience.

  • http://FindingBlessingsinEverydayLife Nancy

    That is heartbreaking!
    I am a new follower and hope you will follow me back.
    Nancy
    http://www.findingblessingsineverydaylife.blogspot.com

  • http://www.onebrownie.com Losing Brownies

    Thank goodness his father is so welcoming. Why doesn’t he live with his dad full time? His mother obviously doesn’t treat him very well.

    • http://www.toughcookiemommy.com Tough Cookie Mommy

      His father has always made it clear that he can come live with him provided that he understands that he has to abide by strict house rules. My understanding is that “D” actually chooses to stay with his mother because she is generally more lenient with regards to her house rules. I think that is a big part of the problem that his mother gives him mixed signals by trying to be his friend sometimes and trying to parent him other times.

  • http://www.findingyourvoiceoftruth.blogspot.com Stephanie

    This is heartbreaking Maria. I feel like I had so many kids like this in my classroom. I remember how out of 30 parents I would get 6 or 7 for parent teacher night. I still can’t believe it. To be thrown out is a horrible feeling. I’m sure your kindness, concern and talks can help even just a bit.

    Stephanie

    • http://www.toughcookiemommy.com Tough Cookie Mommy

      Stephanie, we have had so many kids like this in our classrooms. I’m at the point that I just can’t stand to see it anymore. Being abandoned by your parents or kicked out of the house by them is devastating to these young people.

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  • http://www.zippychix.com ZippyChix

    Thanks for these great reminders Maria. I also work with in a school setting and see many children in less than ideal settings. What you said about your teen neighbor feeling safe enough to share, without having to defend his mom is so true in many cases. It appears that no matter how difficult a childs home situation may be, they are almost always loyal to their parents. It amazes me everytime. Respecting this boundary and giving them space to talk out their feelings is definitely the way to go. Thanks for these thoughtful insiights.

    • http://www.toughcookiemommy.com Tough Cookie Mommy

      It’s so unfortunate that so many of us who work in the educational field see so many of these tragic relationships between parents and their children. It is heartbreaking to see these kids defending their parents because they yearn to have that bond with them.

  • Amanda

    Heartbreaking on so many levels. I feel for the kid, he is still a kid. I was him being kicked out of my mother’s house at an even younger age. It’s terrible to hear and makes me feel sick inside now that I have my own child.

    I love the way you write, it really paints the picture.

    • http://www.toughcookiemommy.com Tough Cookie Mommy

      Hi, Amanda. I agree with you, it makes me sick to my stomach too. These are scars that we never outgrow and no parent should inflict them on their child. Thank you so much, I really appreciate the compliment about my writing. I’m so glad that you enjoy my posts.

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  • http://www.coconutchica.com Chela

    It breaks my heart to hear stories about kids being mentally (or physically) abused by their parents and still feeling enough of a sense of loyalty to defend them to others. Unless maybe you’re the mother in this situation, I just cannot imagine any reason to treat your own child so badly. Kids can be infuriating, but that’s not a reason to put them out on the street.

    This woman should work something out with the father to take the kid when she needs a break, and then *make sure he gets there safely.* But just kicking him out in the cold is completely unacceptable.