Part Two of Mom, I’m Not a Kid Anymore by Sue Sanders resonated with me much more than Part One had. In this book, which some label a parenting memoir, Sue Sanders started by tackling what she calls expected but still surprising conversations, like “Mom, Have You Ever Smoked Marijuana?” She shared not only her experiences navigating adolescence but also her daughter’s, attempting to soothe parents’ fears by honestly conveying what she learned the hard way. However, I found the conversations, which compromise the second half of the book, to be most valuable. Let’s face it. Family talk isn’t what it used to be.
Saunders begins her explorations of Modern Family Talk with “Aren’t Family Values a Good Thing?” As she painted a picture of “walking a tightrope of small talk” at extended family dinners, I could relate. Having grown up with a Republican father and Democrat mother, I know firsthand how tense things can get when family members try to convince each other of their politics. While my husband and I are both liberal in our beliefs, we have surrounded ourselves with people from all walks of life, and therefore all political views, so I enjoyed reading how Saunders prevents social gatherings from drifting off into the political abyss.
“Can I Get American Eagle Jeans?” was another great chapter on materialism, as I’m always struggling with how best to teach my daughters the difference between needs and wants. Saunders writes, “For parents trying to avoid the pitfalls of unchecked materialism, it can sometimes feel as if they’re shoving a finger in a dam to keep all the “wants” pressing on the other side from pouring through. But no matter how many fingers and toes are jammed in the crack, some keep seeping in.” That’s why Saunders allowed her daughter to financially contribute when it came to the purchasing of her team swim suit, claiming “She now has more of a personal stake in the suit and the team than if they were just given to her.” Having just shelled out an exorbitant amount of money for my daughter’s gymnastics team uniform, I’m filing this idea away for the next “must-have” my older daughter comes to me with.
Perhaps, my most inevitable question to come is “Do You Drink Wine Every Night?” Like Saunders, I don’t really have to think to answer that one. (Or maybe, my kids don’t even need to ask.) “Pretty much. But I rarely have more than one glass a night,” she explains. I credit my love of red wine to my Italian heritage and think of “my people” back in Italy enjoying wine at meals the way Americans do sodas. Granted, when my daughter learns in school that alcohol is a drug, I’ll have some explaining to do (and not that scientists believe a glass of red wine a day is good for your heart). But for the most part I believe, as Saunders does, that “I’m setting a good example, showing how an adult drinks wine responsibly.” In doing so, Saunders argues, she’s paving the way for future conversations about the dangers of alcohol when her daughter (inevitably) begins experimenting.
Again, if you have a child that asks a lot of questions that make you uncomfortable, then check out this book, as it gives some good ideas for how you might deal with them. While Saunders doesn’t offer any specific ways on how to initiate these awkward conversations, she does a great job of demonstrating how you can keep the lines of communication open when your child insists, “Mom, I’m not a kid anymore!”
Read my other blog Befriending Forty.