Saturday, March 25, 2006

Tea with a really bad mother....

Nancie Thorne told "The Seattle Times" that her 15-year-old daughter, Suzanne, was in the house when the man opened fire. She said the girl’s boyfriend called her Saturday morning to say that they had gone to the house following an electronic dance party on Friday night – a "zombie rave."
"It’s the worst phone call a mom can get," Thorne said, crying. "She shouldn’t have gone to the rave. I’ve never approved of those things... I just hope to God she’s alive. And if she is, she’s grounded for life."

I would like to invite Nancie Thorne over for a cup of tea and use the opportunity to give her some parenting advice, provided I could restrain myself from slapping her silly for giving other hippie mothers a bad name.

Provided I could, here's what I'd say:

Nancy, are you on crack? No, wait, don't answer that. But really, sister, just because one is a free-wheeling, earth-biscuit type is no reason not to be a good mother.

What do I mean by that? How can you ask such a question? Did you not tell the Seattle Times reporter that you never approved of raves? And what did you do? You let your daughter go anyway.

What do you mean by, "What was I supposed to do?" I'll tell you what you were supposed to do. You were supposed to say, "No, Suzanne, you aren't going to the rave because I don't approve of them." And if she talked back you took everything she valued away - cell phone, Dayglo hair dye, nose ring - until she remembered just who was in charge.

Please, stop saying how you could never do that becaus you want to be your daughter's friend. If you can stop crying for a second, I'll tell you a little story about the time I had to break my oldest daughter's heart. She was eleven and had made me a card that said, "I love you, mommy. You're my best friend." I hugged her, thanked her for the card and informed her that while I would always try to be the best mommy I could be, I could not her friend, at least not until she was an adult. You see, my job is not to be my kids' non-judgemental buddy, but their guide and protector, a leader strong enough to - for instance - tell them they can't go to a "rave" full of crazed druggies.

Now that she's 20 and on her own, my daughter is my best friend. And do you know why? Because I earned her respect. You know what else? Even as a young adult, she still values my counsel, because she knows I have her best interest at heart. While her other friends tell her what she wants to hear, I'm the one she counts on to always tell her the unvarnished truth.

What's that, Nanci? But you are trying to be tough? You said you plan to ground Suzanne? For what? For doing something you let her do? Silly rabbit, the time to be strong is before your daughter is in a situation that puts her life at risk, not after.

Really, Nanci. It's parents like you who make me sick. Up until now I haven't actually had the chance to tell one of you how I felt. I don't know how you feel, but I feel a whole lot better. Thanks for stopping by.


Shrubbery said...

Hmmmmmmmm, it's dolts like her that make me contemplate advocating licensure for parents. If you can't exert basic, rudamentary discipline over your child you don't need to be siring lil' ones. Now I'm sounding like Bane. *shudder*

Morgan said...

I think the problem is that people want children, but they don't want to be parents. Or at least they don't want to do the thankless part of parenting. I've seen parents give in to toddlers after five minutes of badgering. I shudder to think what those kids are going to be like when their in their teens and have learned long ago that if they harrass mom and dad enough they'll get what they want.

Mia said...


Good parenting advice. I despise that "my child is my best friend" line. I always call people on it - kids have friends (usually), they don't need more, they need their parents to be just that, PARENTS!! People never cease to amaze - it's like they view their children as accessories or something. We have a wonderful relationship with our two boys (13 and 7) but they know who's in charge.

Morgan said...

Amen, Mia. You sound like a great mom.

Beth said...

I agree completely with you. There was one particular instance when I was 13 where my parents told me I couldn't do something, and it devastated me. Years later (all five!) I thank them for it, and now that I'm gone and married, I can say that my mother is probably my closest friend, and I hers.

BUT she's done raising me and I'm out of the house, and have been for almost a year. When I lived at home, we were close, but she was the adult and the parent and had the last say in EVERYTHING, and I understood and respected that.

If you don't aprove of something your child wants to do -- tough luck for them, they can't do it. You're the parent, you get the last say.

Hehe, "'cause I'm the mom, that's why."

Morgan said...

Beth, I'm sure your mother is so very proud of you, now. It's a credit to her that you've grown into such a sensible young woman. You remind me a lot of my daughter.

Another thing that helped me to be tough was knowing that if my kids didn't understand being told 'no' when they were in their teens they would - as you point out - understand it later. Our perceptions of our parents change as they age and we realize all the "hell" they put us through was for our own good.

I've drawn from the positive and negative experiences of my childhood in deciding how to raise my kids. There were some things my parents did right, which I emulated, and some things I vowed I'd never do, which I did not. I think even the good and bad decisions they made ultimately helped me to be a good mother.

One day, when my kids have their own children, I hope they'll do the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Well, since Nancie's daughter was murdered, I guess your wonderful and touching advice arrives just a bit late, doesn't it? This is not the time for this kind of self-satisfied-I'm-the-best-parent crap.

Anonymous said...

The girl was killed, you self righteous cunt. Walk a mile in someone elses shoes, eh?

Shrubbery said...

The story is in the public forum so Morg has the right to say whateva. Chill dude.

Morgan said...

Well, anon, that's just all the more reason for parents to step up and be parents.

Saying "no" to a letting 15-year-old put herself in a dangerous situation may seen like an inconvenient decision, but it's a hell of a lot preferable to burying them after that situation ends up taking their life.

No, I didn't know Nancie's daughter was among those killed. Now that I do, it just proves my point.

Cold of me? Perhaps. But when I missed opportunity to parent leads to the death of a child it should serve as a lesson to all adults of what parenthood is all about.

This isn't about moral superiority. I don't consider myself a perfect parent. But I can tell you one thing, I'd risk my kids' hating my guts for being too strict before I'll see them end up like Suzanne. If that's too raw for you I really don't give a damn.

Taylor said...

There was nothing self-righteous about Morgan's advice. She was making an excellent point about parenting in an effort to prevent just the tragedy that befell this girl and her family.

As a good mother she has every right to call another mother on what she knows to be a disservice to the very ones she should be protecting and teaching.

If it is too late for this mother, perhaps and hopefully it won't be for another.

Anonymous said...

This is a horrible situation, but the truth is that it didn't happen because the child was out all night or because the mother was ineffective or lazy or helpless. It happened because a crazy person decided to murder a bunch of strangers. It could happen in a highschool or a post office or a subway or a shopping mall. In the middle of the day. In bright sunshine. With no drugs involved. I agree that the girl shouldn't have been out all night, but how many kids claim that they're at a sleepover or at a school dance, and then slip out the back door to do who knows what? Kids have the power here - they know us better than we know them and they (and only they) know the truth. The best you can do is treat your children with respect and a little suspicion, and double check on them when you feel the need. And then you better hope like hell that they don't get in the path of a crazy person.

All this talk about raves and drugs and bad parenting ignores the point that this was a tragedy brought on by insanity, and not related to where (or who) the victims were or what they were doing.

Morgan said...

Respectfully, anonymous, that is a total bullshit argument.
Allowing your child to go to the mall is not usually a risk. Allowing your child to go into a situation where you know there are illegal drugs being taken is a terrible risk. It's the difference between letting your kid drive the family car and letting them drive the car when you know the brakes are shot.

It may surprise you to learn that I am not an overly protective mother. As my older kids proved they could be responsible, their father and I let them go where they wanted provided we knew who they were with and where they'd be.
But they also realized that as long as they were minors, they did not have the power - we did - and if they abused their freedoms or acted irresponsibly there went the car and the freedom to go and do. It was rarely an issue, however. They knew we weren't dogmatic and could come talk to us about anything, including reservations about friends and situations. If they had done something stupid, we tried to help them through it and not preach.

But to throw up our hands and say, "bad things can happen anywhere so it doesn't matter where we let our kids go" is just ridiculous. You say the tragedy doesn't relate to where those kids were. Oh, yes it does.

Anonymous said...

Our parenting styles are actually the same. I didn't allow my kids to go to raves or all night parties, and to the best of my knowledge they didn't do those things. I certainly don't advocate throwing up your hands and letting kids do whatever they want. I just want to make the point that the rave argument is, in this case, irrelevant. We want to believe that we can protect our kids by being good parents and establishing trust and responsibility. We try to keep them out of dangerous situations. We warn them, admonish them, limit their access to dangerous situations and so on. However, we don't know that Nancie Thorne didn't do all that and more. She was interviewed and quoted (probably out of context) during a time of incredible stress. Calling her a bad mom is ridiculous, although it probably makes you feel safer and more in control. I hope nothing like this happens to anyone you love, but let me tell you that it can and does despite the best parenting in the universe.

Morgan said...

"However, we don't know that Nancie Thorne didn't do all that and more."

I think we know she didn't do more by the mere fact that her kid was there. I would move heaven and earth to keep my 15-year-old child from going into a situation like that. Mere disapproval isn't enough.

"I just want to make the point that the rave argument is, in this case, irrelevant."

Again, it's not irrelevant. You don't expect your child to get seriously injured or killed if you let them go to a movie. You let your kid go off and join a houseful of druggies and you're rolling the dice with their safety. You can't possibly argue this point.

"Calling her a bad mom is ridiculous, although it probably makes you feel safer and more in control."

Ah, another attack. At least you're not calling me a cunt this time, if you're even the same anonymous. My pointing out Nanie's inadequacies doesn't make me feel in superior, in control or anything other than frustrated that such examples exist in the first place. And regardless of what you say, you'll never convince me that any parent who would not move heaven and earth to keep their kid from going to a drug party is anything other than a bad one.

That's not to say that Nancie wasn't a loving mother. But love isn't enough to keep them safe.

"I hope nothing like this happens to anyone you love, but let me tell you that it can and does despite the best parenting in the universe."

I hope that it doesn't either, but if it does it won't be because I abdicated my responsibilities. Good parenting is no guarantee that your kid won't befall some tragedy, but it sure is better than nothing.

Anonymous said...

"Good parenting is no guarantee that your kid won't befall some tragedy, but it sure is better than nothing."

Amen to that. (And I never called you any names.)

Morgan said...

Anonymous, there's obvious more than one anonymous posting here, which is frustrating. It's easy to confuse posters who won't even bother to use a pseudonym so I can at least distinguish who is who.

At least we agree that good parenting won't prevent tragedies. Do you think we can agree that it is better insurance than nothing?

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. We can even agree that she *may* have been a bad mother. I'm just not that willing to condemn her on the evidence we have.

Morgan said...

I think a better way to put this, anonymous, is this way:

If something happens to my children, it will be in spite of everything I've done to protect them, not because I failed to protect them in the first place.

I think that may sum up our philsophical parting of the ways. I can't just see throwing up my hands and leaving minor children to the fates. The argument many parents have fallen for, the one that says, "Kids will do what they want anyway so why even try," is a dangerous cop out.