"Here comes my lazy dad. Look at him, trying to work the camera.
He's so stupid."
In shock, I turned around to face a 13-year-old
boy and said, "The man is a saint simply for putting up with you."
Another mom standing near me said, "A man who works 40 hours a
week to take care of his family is anything but lazy."
The boy smirked but was unrepentant. I looked at him closely to
see whether there was any basis for this level of disrespect.
He was dressed well. He was clean. He had no black eye, no fat
lip, no bruises or other visible signs of neglect or abuse. His dad
obviously cared enough to come to this boy's sporting event and was
proud enough to take pictures of him. For those reasons and the fact
that he'd never received the "attitude adjustment" that he so
eloquently asked for, the boy owed his father respect.
There was so much I wanted to say to that boy. So much he needed
to hear. So much that many teens need to hear.
Don't get me wrong. I, too, remember thinking that my parents
were too strict, a little weird and woefully uninformed when I was a
know-it-all teenager. I thought they were from a different planet,
but they didn't know it. I remember thinking all that, but I would
never have said that to anyone other than a family member. Even
then, only if I was feeling particularly snarky. And Lord help
anyone else who might say anything disrespectful about my parents. I
would have cleaned their clock.
The problem seems to be that kids have trouble accepting that
their parents are human. Parents are not the superheroes of their
children's elementary years any longer. By middle school, this fact
is slowly asserting itself into their little brains. Their parents
have faults and issues like everyone else -- surprise! Because the
idol worship is being replaced by reason, the parents inevitably
fall off the pedestal they were unknowingly placed upon and
This process may be a shock to a kid. Their parents aren't really
all that amazing; the kid just thought they were. Now the teen is
suddenly angry at his parents for being ordinary.
What teenagers never seem to grasp is that these ordinary people
are, indeed, extraordinary in one very important way: their awesome
love for their children. This extraordinary love transcends every
harsh word, every act of rebellion and every stupid mistake their
children make. This extraordinary love is unconditional. It will be
there until the end of time, no matter how hateful the teenager
decides to be.
[to top of second column]
These ordinary parents have done extraordinary things for their
children, over and over again, all in the name of love, and in spite
of their child's behavior. They do not ask for anything in return.
In fact, there are innumerable acts of love that their children
never think about, or even know about. These are acts that teens and
young adults may never reflect upon until they, too, are the parents
of an ungrateful child.
The thing about your parent that you think you can't tolerate is
small potatoes when compared with what he or she has done for you.
Even now, in the midst of your intolerance, they would, without
question, move heaven and earth for you, if you needed them. They
are your staunchest ally in this capricious world.
The smart-mouthed twit who had the nerve to bad-mouth the only
member of the human race who was willing to feed and clothe his
sorry behind made me so angry! What would have happened to that boy
if his father didn't feel like trading his hard-earned money for the
things that would keep his impudent child alive?
I thought the brainless wretch should be picked up and dropped on
his thick head in a snowbank in Siberia. He might finally recognize
his amazing good fortune in having been born to an ordinary dad who
I thought harshly of him, of course, because he isn't my kid.
If he were my kid, I wouldn't be angry. I would be thoroughly,
crushingly... heartbroken. But he would never know...
[By LAURA SNYDER]
Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated
columnist, author and speaker. You can reach her at
or visit www.lauraonlife.com
for more info.
Laura Snyder is suspending her column for an indefinite time due to
a series of health-related events in the family.