Welcome to my life. It's a whirlwind of kids, chaos, pets, people, family, art, and being home (most of the time; I like to get out here and there). We unschool, so the unexpected is, well, expected...

Monday, August 17, 2009

review of... Live Through This: A Mother's Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love

I heard this interview thanks to Schuyler who pointed it out in a chat. After hearing the interview, I read the book. Just now when I tried to find the link for the radio program, I found this interview.

I'm curious what others think of these sorts of issues, so I read a large handful of the comments. I was surprised to find more than a few that shared the same thoughts as I had.

The interview had left me feeling like this mother hadn't really quite figured out what went wrong and how she could've prevented what happened. What happened was really horrible. I read the book, hoping it would delve into that aspect a bit more, but it didn't really. It ended with the mom regretting missing out on raising her 2 older daughters, and simultaneously proud of them for finally graduating from highschool and moving onward to fulfilling careers and motherhood.

The daughter that was gone the longest, lives on the other side of the US from her mother. It doesn't surprise me in the least. There was an irreconcilable divide that happened, in a large part because of the mother's inability to see outside of herself and to look deeply into her children.

I kept hoping for an answer, a real answer about how this family could have changed course, but it never came. It seems as if the mother still believes that the outcome couldn't have been prevented. It's terribly sad, almost more tragic than a mother's loss of teen daughters that ran away.

Every step this woman took was to exert control over her children, to get them to comply with her idea of what her family should look like and be like. All of it failed over and over again. She stopped seeing her children as they were and could only see them for what they were not. They were not compliant children who aspired to go to school and get good grades, they were bad children who misbehaved and didn't follow the rules.

Even if the mother couldn't see taking them out of school as an option, she could have done so much more for those girls than give them rules and try to make them comply. The girls sure saw not going to school as an option, and the very fact that their mother couldn't recognize that, shows a significant lack of understanding and communication on her part. I doubt very much that school or no school was the answer. Ditching school was more of a symptom of a larger problem, a problem that was created by the parents, their divorce, their move, their total lack of control over anything that was happening in their lives. School was just one more thing controlling them.

While I'm saddened by the loss of what they could have had, I also admire her kids for getting out there and doing what they wanted to do, despite the hardships they must have endured. To think that they all could have gotten what they wanted. The mom could have been sweeter and kinder and more adventerous, and the kids could have been able to explore the world in the way they needed to do and still have safety and comfort and home and a parent.

I'm still looking for decent mainstream parenting advice... I never seem to find any. I know I can do a google search on teens and ____________ (fill in the blank), and get advice after advice after advice, but it's almost entirely full of bad advice. And still people are surprised by life gone awry...

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