Cut The Cord

Last week I had a meeting with my boss. I couldn’t make it so I had my mother call and explain my absence to my boss. Then, I had a doctor’s appointment that I couldn’t keep. I didn’t cancel the appointment and the doctor was going to charge me for the visit anyway! I had my mother call to get me out of the penalty payment. It worked! She’s a tough one, my mom. Finally, I got pulled over because my car’s inspection was overdue. I whipped out my cell phone and had the cop talk to my mother. He was shaking in his boots.

I feel a bit guilty asking my mother to cover for me, but I’ve been doing it so long, it just seems natural. Most of the time, I have to lie to my mother to get her to do it, but she always believes me. In fact, sometimes she pretends it’s me when she calls on my behalf. Oh! Remember that meeting I missed with my boss? I told my mother I was sick, but I really just overslept.

Do these scenarios sound ridiculous to you? Of course they do. I’m an adult. Why would my mother make excuses for me when I’m perfectly capable of taking the heat on my own?

Word to the wise – do not have your mother call me to get you out of an assignment, test or paper. Having a parent intervene for you, sounds as insane to me, the teacher, as the fabricated stories above.

As always, this blog is inspired by my everyday teaching experiences.

  • Yolanda Hidalgo

    I feel that once you’re 18 you are liable for your own actions. It is absolutely insane to have a parent cover for you in any way. I am a parent and would not do this for my daughter if she were to ever ask when she’s older. But for my son on the other hand I am his advocate and I would always want to oversee what is going on and help him if he needs help expressing himself to someone like a teacher or boss. I don’t know what the future holds when he gets older he may or may not be able to be 100% self sufficient in that sense. But overall when others do it just because it is just irresponsibility.

  • Jessica Lauro

    It really bugs me when parents cover for their children, especially when the child is fully competent and above the age of 18. Of course, you want your parents to be there for you when you need them, but if you caused yourself to be in a situation that you’re not happy with, it’s your job to get yourself out of that predicament. As my father has always told me, “The consequences are the results of your actions.” My parents are always there for me when I need them, but they have also taught me to be independent and not to rely on others. I have held a job since the age of 13 and have been responsible for my personal finances as well as other responsibilities. My question to those who are adults and continue to sponge off their parents is, what are you going to do when you reach the real world?…when you’re all alone and no one’s there to help you? Stop relying on others, take responsibility, and begin to rely on yourself.

  • Alfelix Martinez

    I know its great to have parents that stick up for you but at a certain point, you just have to realize that its time to grow up. Do you really think that your parents don’t have enough problems of their own that they have the time and patience to deal with yours? It’s pretty crazy but i know plenty of people who rely solely on their parents to do everything for them. As a father, I know I would do anything my son needed me to do. But thats just what parents do. It is up to the son/daughter to realize what is important enough to ask help with. Because parents have a tough time saying no. In my opinion, though, it is up to the parent, to a certain extent, to put those guidelines in place by early high school. A parent needs to realize that one day, you will not be there to fight for your child, and he/she must learn how to deal with life issues on their own. I mean, everyone likes a little help every once in a while, but the worst thing a grown up can say is…”well my mom wants to talk to you”, or “my dad said I didn’t have to “.

  • Brittany Galante

    When I was in middle school, I would not always want to go out when invited places, especially in large groups. Much of the time when this happened, I didn’t yet have the social maturity to decline plans, so I had my mother cover for me. “Sorry, my mom said I can’t go out,” was a text I sent countless times, usually while hanging out with my mom anyway. Relying on my mother to get me out of uncomfortable situations like that was a helpful trick to use when I was thirteen. As I got older, I realized that I need to take responsibility for my own actions and decisions, and to not hide under Mother’s Wings anymore.
    It amazes me that college-age people still rely so heavily on the “protection” of their parents for basic things they should be able to handle themselves, like class-related responsibilities. I put the word “protection” in quotes because I do not think that parents are protecting their child, but rather hindering them from becoming self-sufficient, socially responsible and well-functioning adults. One of the great things about college (community college or otherwise) is that it helps to mold young students into the aforementioned responsible adults they are meant to become. By meddling into their child’s affairs, parents are not only robbing their child of learning how to be and adult and grow into such, but they are also showing them that it’s okay to have someone else deal with their obligations for them. That doesn’t sound like the shaping of well-functioning adults to me! Some of these students are fresh out of high school where they were most likely used to Mommy and Daddy doing everything for them. While high school is often reliant on parents’ involvement, college will be a nice loud wake-up call for both the eighteen-year-olds and their helicopter parents: the student is responsible for him/herself, no one else.
    …Now, who is going to tell them that this is how it is in real-life, too??

  • Chloe Rissenberg

    There are so many forms of parental “protection” (Brittany, please don’t mind if borrow the quotes around that word from you, but it just fits perfectly, and I completely agree with what you wrote) that actually block us from being able to look after ourselves. The incident with the cop really cracked me up. AS IF a mom could actually threaten a cop, but hey, point well made 🙂

    Anyways, I have a different kind of story to share regarding the subject of maternal protection in particular, and am wondering how many of you out there can relate. I’m getting the impression from everyone who has heard my story that it is far from ordinary and even pretty bizarre, and quite frankly having grown past it I agree completely. Thankfully my mom rarely uses the internet so I’m crossing my fingers she will never come across this post (I think I’ll delete it after the course is over just in case, actually, no, so be it, if she sees it, fine, its the truth).

    Alright, my story is a little complicated, but here goes.

    I was born with moderately severe hearing loss in both ears. I am not legally deaf and can certainly manage to hold a personal conversation. However, this condition has presented several challenges as I grew up, many of which I was not actually conscious of until after I broke away from my mother.

    When I was first asked to wear hearing aids by my school as a kid, of course, I didn’t want to. I didn’t really believe there was anything wrong with me, or different. I thought the way I heard the world was perfectly normal and that everyone else heard at the same level, which was really, in retrospect, maybe 5% of what went on all day. So, I guess because I didn’t want to, my mom decided I wouldn’t have to. She reasoned that I would manage just fine, and that not wearing them would save me from the emotionally crippling stigma of being “hearing impaired”, which in her mind was way worse than not knowing what the heck was going on.

    I ended up becoming an expert at faking it. I acted shy, but like I knew everything. I smiled, went with the flow, and hardly had a single negative experience with any classmates. It’s easier as a kid of course, because everything is about playing, not talking. I was as happy and content as I could be. I didn’t really know what was going on in school, but no one really knew that because I had my mom to explain whatever I didn’t get to me when I got home.

    It wasn’t until I was about 13 that I just couldn’t take it anymore. Perhaps a side trigger was my parent’s deciding to separate, but I withdrew almost completely from any form of socializing. I practically watched my close friends go off in other cliques on the weekends and went home depressed, confused, and insecure enough to break out of my own skin. The only thing that saved me at the time was dance. I loved it, could hear the music well enough, and could at least be myself and be free for a few hours of the day. But, still. I was missing something. Friendship, obviously. I’d go home to my mom, who would comfort me that I was just different (and, oh so much better) than all those other girls.

    Somehow, I actually let her convince me of that. I continued to assume I heard normally and just didn’t get what was going on because I didn’t know the other girls personally. In the midst of our small family falling apart, me losing all of my close-knit childhood friends, and things just seeming terribly glum, my mom and I decided to move to California for a fresh start AS IF that would change anything. It didn’t. I went to a prestigious high school in San Francisco in 9th grade, and predictably, did what I had learned to do my whole life. I walked around shy and insecure. I could practically feel everyone wondering why I didn’t talk to them or socialize as a freshman. I looked normal, thin, healthy, pretty, and fashionable. I wasn’t mentally deranged and didn’t look disabled at all, so what on earth was my issue is what I’m pretty sure everyone was wondering when they saw me.

    They never got an answer. I left that high school to home school with my mom with the intention of focusing on a professional dance career. We ended up enrolling in a distance learning program where I actually had teachers for each subject, to whom I would send my work. However, my mom decided it wasn’t enough. I’ll never forget the first few weeks of homeschooling, where she literally reviewed all of my work and practically tore it up with grades and revisions before I even submitted anything. The result from all that extra work was raving reviews from my teachers, one of whom informed me I was writing at the level of a college senior in, yes, 10th grade!! Normally, I would have been flattered. But due to the circumstances, I actually wanted to die. Literally. I gradually got suicidal, but my mom didn’t know that or see it coming. All she cared about it seemed, was for me to keep up that standard. Why, I have NO idea, because the whole reason for doing this at home was supposed to be so I could dance. Besides the fact that she would keep me up until 2 and 3am, sometimes 5am, polishing homework so I was exhausted during the day, the mental torture I was in made giving my all to my real love and passion, dance, was nearly impossible. I did my best of course, but always felt like I was falling apart.

    Ten years later, I really have come to see that what my mom thought was “protecting” me and keeping me in a “good” position had the opposite effect. I’ve been wearing hearing aids and making new friends as much as I can and in the process, facing the way I lost at least 7 years of life to a mom who thought she was keeping me safe from the real world. I was completely deprived of a healthy social life, for no real reason other than my mom wanting to keep me “okay” in her own strange way, and it has taken years of inner work and therapy to come to terms with what happened to begin to feel safe and comfortable in my skin once again. Cutting that cord between me and my mom has been the biggest challenge of my life, and in many ways one of the most painful, because she has and still does to this day, a belief that she did everything she could to be the best mom possible, and that I do not appreciate what she had to offer me. I cannot accept that, obviously, and a part of growing up for me has been realizing what I was put through, that as a child it was not my fault, and resolving in my own mind and heart how I would do things differently.

    I believe everyone has a different story when it comes to cutting the cord that links maternal protection to independence and adulthood. It is not an easy thing to do, and all mother-daughter relationships have some sort of tight thread (or rope). The title and underlying theme of this blog really triggered something in me to write this, and I hope that my story will help others dig deeper into their own. I think the bottom line is that moms have an inner, compelling urge to protect their children no matter how ridiculous their personal convictions might seem to the outside world, and that this is another cord that they need to break in order to allow their children to grow and survive on their own.

  • Jonathan Pacheco

    They are very ridiculous but some parents are just way too overprotective. I have two little girls of my own and I’m sure I’ll be too overprotective with them way into their adult years. When your a parents you don’t want anything bad to happen to your child. From a paper cut to a broken bone you try to protect your child as much as you can. The real question is when does the parent know enough is enough? What is going to be the straw that breaks the camels back and has the parent stop covering for said child? I’d love to call my parents and have them get me out of a ticket or especially out of parent teacher conference when I have to hear all the things my child does wrong in class but somethings we just have to be an adult about and take the blame for.

  • Chris Guida

    WOW! I almost cried laughing just thinking of what my own mother’s response would be if I asked her to do something like this! The first thing that comes to my mind is probably the inevitable beep of the call being ended. If by some miracle she did see her way to the end of my request, I hear her sighing deeply and waiting for me to break the silence that is her response. It’s hardly her job to look after me anymore. She has always been there for me but we all get to the point where all you can say is too bad….. Try again. =)

  • Karina Gomez

    Throughout high school I worked as a waitress at a restaurant that hosted events as well. One event was a dinner that were made up of a group storytellers who met up every month as a group to tell stories. There was one lady who told a story about how she grew up in Westchester County in New York and how she was very close to her family. She talked about being very reliant on her parents and would always be speaking to them. She eventually got married and moved to San Francisco and had a job an hour away which required her to cross the golden gate bridge every morning. One day she got a flat tire and did not know what to do so she called her husband to come and get her and he (being a single child who is very independent) asked her why she was calling him because there was nothing he could do because he himself had to go to work. She then called her mom and her mother told her step by step what to do. When she told this story i quickly realized how dependent I was on my family. I grew up with six aunts and three uncles and thirteen cousins, if someone wasn’t there I could always call another relative. More importantly I relied on my mother the most. I expected her to make doctor appointments for me and to talk to my teachers when I missed an assignment in high school. I couldn’t even order take out on the phone I always had my mom speak for me. I realized how dependent I was on my mother to always be there for me until I realized that one day she won’t be there to get me out of things and at some point I will move out and live on my own. I find it ridiculous for students to always expect their parents to get them out of every thing and think that the sooner students cut the cord the easier it will be for them in their adult lives. I’m happy to say that I now do things for myself. As for getting flat tires I think my mom will always be my first call although she doesn’t know how to fix a flat tire, she’s always the voice I need to hear.

  • Emilie

    If only people realized that if you want others to take you seriously, you must act and BE an adult. My parents at a young age stopped calling on my behalf, making my appointments, and doing necessary things. They taught me the only way to be treated like an adult is to be one. I totally agree with your “word to wise” statement. In the end, it’s a students responsibility to prosper and take initiative for their absence, bad grades, etc. I can’t believe in college, students still try to have their parents fight for them.