Skip to content

December 8, 2011

The Impasse at Home

by Anne Paddock
For the past week, my husband has been playing Mr. Mom taking care of our daughter (and animals) while I spent some time in Florida getting acclimated to the humidity and preparing to run a half marathon.  Last night, my husband called and there was silence at the other end of the phone.  The conversation went like this:

Me: Hello.
Him: Yes.
Me: Are you o.k.?
Him: I don’t know.
Me: What do you mean you don’t know?
(silence which is killing me by this time)
Me: What’s wrong?
Him: She (meaning our daughter) locked herself in her bedroom.
Me: What?
Him: She locked herself in her bedroom.
Me: Why did she lock herself in the bedroom?
Him: We had a disagreement.
Me: Really. And, what was the disagreement about?
Him: I wanted to say a prayer at dinner; she didn’t. And, that turned into an argument about religion.
Me: So, she locked herself in her bedroom.
Him: Yes.
Me: Did you ask her to unlock the door?
Him: Yes.  She wouldn’t.
Me: Well, there’s two ways to deal with this. I can get involved or you can try to work it out with her……with the  later option the better choice in my mind.

Him: OK, I’ll try.

Three hours go by and I don’t hear a thing but I’m thinking that if she locked herself in the bedroom, that’s not such a big problem. After all, she’s not going anywhere because she’s on the top floor, we know where she’s at, and when she’s hungry, she’ll come out. Remembering that the worst punishment in the world for her as a young child was to isolate her with a time-out, I didn’t think she would last long in the room by herself.  But, then again that was before there were i-pods and computers in the bedroom. Still, those could only amuse her for so long. So, I waited playing mental volleyball all night.

The phone finally rang and both my husband and daughter got on the phone and everything seemed fine. Of course, it isn’t. They are muddling through adolescence and it’s a hard process for both of them.  My husband is used to doing things the same way he has for years with our daughter obediently following along. But, now she is thinking deeper, trying to establish some independence, and challenging traditions all in the name of figuring out who she is and as she says “what’s the point?”  Although I don’t think 15-year olds should be cynical, I tell my daughter she will be asking that question for the rest of her life and only she will figure out what the point of her behavior and decisions are.

Years ago when our daughter was small, her godfather and his family lived down the street. We shared a lot of great times together with their family spending the Christian holidays with us and our family spending the Jewish holidays at their home.  They even spent a day making holiday cookies with us every December and we expanded the day long session by adding Chanukah cookies to our assortment.  We all had very different beliefs but we respected each others differences and enjoyed the sharing of family traditions.

My husband explained to our daughter that she doesn’t have to agree or subscribe to another’s beliefs but she has to have tolerance. He reminded her of those nights we shared Passover, Chanukah, and Yom Kippur with her godfather’s family when we sat at their table and were a part of their celebration;  we didn’t refuse to participate because we weren’t Jewish; in fact, we actively participated because they were sharing an important tradition with us and we cared about them. Our daughter doesn’t have to believe but if she sits at a table, she needs to respect another person’s desire to say a prayer, give thanks, or recall why we all gather. In other words, she has to tolerate her father’s desire to say “grace.” And, as she courageously reminded her father, he needs to respect her beliefs, too. Maybe this stage should be called “Impasseolescence” instead of adolescence. 

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: