earlier I had run away from the authority figures in my life -- my mother, who I believed had almost total control over me, and my husband. I wanted what every teen wants -- to make my own decisions, to control my own life. But the last thing my daughter needed was a parent in the same boat.

My son, Larry, who is two years younger than Randy, wasn’t sympathetic to his sister’s behavior. He swore he would never act so stupid. Ha! Two years later it was his turn, and he made Randy’s rebellion seem tame. The details of their adolescence belong to them. All I can tell you is what it was like for me. I felt alone and frightened. Like so many recently divorced parents, I blamed myself.

How could this be happening? I wondered. After all, thousands of kids were writing to me every month. They trusted me. I knew how to listen without judging. (Yes, but it’s so much easier for them to tell someone other than their parents.)

Maybe I should have cheered Randy’s and Larry’s rebellions. At least they came at the right time of life. Years later, when we could talk about what we now refer to as the difficult years, Randy said, “You know, Mother, we took turns. We never gave you more trouble than you could handle!”

The good news is, most of us survive our children’s adolescent years. My only advice is to stay aware, listen carefully and yell for help if you need it. Somehow, with common sense and humor most of us manage to muddle through. And on the other side is a reward. A new relationship with adult children. I spent last weekend visiting my daughter at her new home. We laughed a lot and talked about each other’s writing projects. It was a lovely weekend. It was worth every minute of her 16th year.


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