I feel like most parents probably worry about the influence of other kids on their kid. Will your kid make good friends, nice friends who don’t get into trouble? Or will your kid fall in with the “wrong crowd”?
But what do you do when you’ve been tasked with parenting one of those kids from the “wrong crowd”?
I love 12-year-old ML with all my heart. She is witty and empathetic and smart. However, she also smokes, cuts, curses, lies, steals, is sexually inappropriate, and is generally the kind of kid that “good kids” are supposed to avoid. So what do I do with that? What do you do when your kid is the one that starts trouble, that other parents tell their kids to stay away from?
And really, what do you do when that 12-year-old kid cries because she thinks nobody likes her?
It isn’t ML’s fault that she is the way she is, but it’s become her responsibility. ML goes back to her bio-mom for good on Friday, and her bio-mom is not going to parent her. ML is stuck parenting herself, and she is really bad at it. She has no self-regulation because, duh, she’s 12! So now she is on a cocktail of medications and she is seeing a court-ordered therapist because of her behaviors, and is somehow supposed to be ‘normal’ and get ‘fixed’ in that environment.
When adults come up to me complaining of ML’s (or T’s, or H’s, etc.) behaviors, I am stuck just shrugging my shoulders. I can’t fault the adult for being frustrated, and I can’t really fault (or change) the kid. My usual tactic is to just ask for grace. I tell the adult my kid is hurting, and I try to get them to see life from the perspective of a traumatized pre-teen that has never learned to function in normal society. Of course, for the adult, that is an impossible task. How can they know what life on the fringes of society is like for a kid? That upstanding adult with good kids and a safe life has no concept of the kind of life my kids lead. So they go away angry and my kid goes away with yet another blow to their already pitiful self-esteem. And I am perpetually caught between the rules of the world we live in and my compassion for the hurting, angry, “bad kid” that I love so very much.