How to Deal with Your Parents

10 May


It would appear that your relationship with your parents is not where you’d like it to be. They’d prefer that you’d stay 15 and unsullied forever while you’d rather grow up and get on with the sullying.

I would imagine this grip will loosen once you meet the right man, preferably an upstanding fellow with a string of Ph.D.’s after his name and/or a string of 0’s after any other digits in his bank account.

I understand this issue all too well. My parents were incredibly strict. Why, I was nearly nine before I realized our house even had windows. I didn’t actually get to enjoy the front yard until I was fifteen.

My two brothers and I were protected from anything and everything, not so much for our sakes, but to allow our parents to live their lives as though it were still several decades earlier. We were kept inside at all times and busied ourselves with sweeping the dirt floor, dusting the dirt walls and reading selections from an 1897 Sears-Roebuck catalog.

Our parents kept our interaction with either sex to minimum by teaching us at home. We learned a mixture of Amish farming techniques, quadratic algebra and the holistic teachings of John Harvey Kellogg. Occasional visits from mailmen, milkmen and Social Services gave us a glimpse at life on the “outside,” which seemed to be filled with various stern-looking men in ill-fitting uniforms.

When we were finally set loose on the world during our later-teen years, we found that our training in the areas of barn-raising, pre-calculus and cleaner living through regular enemas left us ill-equipped to deal with a society that had moved on without us.

We planned to enroll in the local community college to broaden our extremely narrow horizons, but the call of the draft board derailed that dream permanently. In mere days, we were at the front, munching on corn flakes and drawing complex equations in the Korean snow.

Still, we found that our lack of a formal education did not diminish our status in the Army, which declared that each and every one of us was “equal,” and thus able to serve our country proudly as “pawns” in an international game of “Chinese Checkers crossed with Russian Roulette.”

Take heart, Livenlove. Your problems are only temporary. Sooner or later life will throw you a “curveball” that will make all your parental woes seem insignificant by comparison.

Clifton L. Tanager

6 Responses to “How to Deal with Your Parents”

  1. bschooled May 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm #


    While your posts may be sporadic, they are definitely worth the wait.

    I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for you, to be almost nine years old and suddenly notice light appearing through a square of glass in the wall.

    I myself had the opposite problem, I was always on the outside looking in. Even on my birthday I was forced to sit outside while my friends enjoyed ice cream and cake and the warmth of the fireplace.

    Still, given the choice, I’d probably pick frostbite over having to sit through a quadratic algebra lesson.

    Brilliant lesson, Clifton. I only hope Livenlove heeds your advice.

  2. elizabeth3hersh May 15, 2011 at 5:01 am #

    Well Clifton, as a parent I can certainly relate to the Ph.D. and a gaggle of zeros prerequisites (the girls and I were just having this conversation [AGAIN] yesterday). If you want to get specific, I actually use “doctor or lawyer” in lieu of Ph.D. (and if you want to get really, really specific “Jewish doctor or lawyer” followed by the requisite eye rolls…particularly by my youngest). You got me cold.

    Ah, that they don’t go down the same road I did. After reading LivenLove I realize my own parents sound foreign, only because they were not around (other than Sundays when the bars were closed…God, I hated Sundays). I hope LivenLove can look at it as a learning experience. For instance, I learned how to put out fires, patch holes in walls, play ’jail’ when it came down to beans, bread and ketchup, play ‘sheriff, referee or Hulk Hogan’ depending on the situation, that stoves tip over if you play on the door, how to pick locks, regulate room temperature by blasting the furnace then throwing open and fanning the doors when it got too hot, not to probe sockets, that Comet and vigorous elbow grease would remove extremely scorched food from a pan bottom, the perils of making stabbing motions at frozen food while under the influence, how to apply a tourniquet and render first aid, how to reassemble a bed after using it as a trampoline, how to create a ‘safe room’ out of the bathroom with strategically pulled drawers when chased by irate siblings and how to use the yellow pages (this entailed finding the ‘taverns’ section and calling them one by one to request they page my mother…not once did I ever fail to locate her). These are events that build character.

    Excellent advice Clifton (especially about life dealing curve-balls). I would just like to add that if LivenLove’s parents’ strictures keep her from joining Hezbollah, it will all be worth it. Trust me on this.

  3. Scott May 21, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    That’s for sure! My parents were weird as hell, and could be quite abusive. But they had mental illness–specifically obsessive-compulsive disorder. And because OCD is hereditary, I discovered, in 1989, that I had it too. So did my sisters, though to a lesser degree. The only member of my family who showed no sign of mental illness was my brother (though he was stricken with a psychosexual disorder–homosexuality). And being the last of the four children, I got the worst of the OCD. And I still have it. And it’s hell–a “curveball” to say the least!

    • Scott May 21, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

      Correction: not 1989, 1985.

  4. juljoh70 June 11, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    I can’t imagine what this little thing is going through…

    Why, when I was 7, I was sent out to the world in the best dress my momma could afford .. She painted my eyes and dabbed my neck with purfume. She said, your pa’s run off and I’m real sick and the baby’s gonna starve to death. I asked, momma, What do I do? and she replied Just be nice to the Gentlemen, Julie, and they’ll be nice to you. And then she said something that I will never forget. She said, heres your one chance Julie, don’t let me down!

    For me there was no way out. It wasn’t very long before I knew exactly what my momma was talking about!

    Livinlove, you don’t know what your are missing!

  5. psychodynamom October 12, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    I just found your blog & love your sense of humor! following…

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