Should I Feel Guilty?

Question:
So ummm I looove your books, but I really need to know if I should feel guilty about this or not. So my mom seems to think I’m never supposed to cusss or anything.. She got mad once when I said dude! Dude! Thats all I said. But when I’m at school I’m a completely different person. I cuss all the time! Stuff they block out on TV shows. I’m actually quite inappropriate. At my school band is mandatory. I play clarinet and I absoutly hate band!!!!! My mom knows I hate band, but she doesn’t know how much. I actually got an F in band. But thats just a elective class so it wasn’t a big deal.. I’ve ditched band with my friends before. Actually me and my best friend considered locking ourselves in the storage closet and pretend that we “accidently” locked ourselves in, just to skip band. I’m 13 and my mom doesn’t think I know what blowjobs are and mouthjobs. She always asks me if I’m dating, because I’m only allowed to when I’m 16. I hate lying about that. I feel really bad…..but by like 12 hormones already start to kick in. Appearntly not to my mom. Sometimes I pretend like I forgot to bring my instrument just to get out of it. I useally hide it in a bush with my friend kyle. She doesn’t know how inappropriate my friends are either. Once kyle dared my bestfriend to smack this really ugly guys butt when he wasn’t looking. And she did. I’m waay different when I’m at school or with my friends. So I know I’m not living a double life or anything….but am I a bad kid? Should I feel guilty??

 

Phyllis replied:

Let’s forget “guilty” for the moment and try to understand why you cuss inappropriately, pull tricks to get out of band, and lie to your mom.  Without knowing either you or your mom, your email seems to indicate that she is much too strict with you and you are reacting passive-aggressively by seeing what you can get away with at school without her knowing, instead of actually confronting her and having a serious talk.  Since you seem to know that the hard-cussing, trick-pulling, hanging-out-with-wrong-crowd person isn’t really you,  think about this:  If you suddenly were given the choice to choose exactly the kind of person you wanted to be at school, doing the kinds of activities you really like, what kind of person would that be?  Would you give up the cussing-persona to be one of the actors in a play?  Would you be the kind of person who might attract the attention of the eighth grade guy across the street?  Would you trade band for modern dance or girls’ soccer?  Who is the real you?  I know that it’s easier said than done for a girl, who is totally dependent on her parents for food and shelter and spending money, to sit down with her mom for a serious talk, but I think that’s what you need to do at a time she is relaxed and in a reasonably good mood.  Promise to listen carefully to the reasons she gives for what she demands from you if she will listen carefully to the way you are feeling.  Tell her that you resent her rules over the small things, like saying “Dude.”   That you resent having an arbitrary age restriction for dating.  That you want to be able to pick your own extra-curricular activities, and that band isn’t one of them.  Tell her that instead of hanging around with kids she probably wouldn’t approve of, and being tempted to ditch band, and using words she wouldn’t like just to get even, you want to become a different sort of person, and you need her help by giving you more freedom.  Then present your plan, and think it out beforehand:  Perhaps you want to trade band for drama club next year; you want to join the chorus or the dance club or soccer or the computer club; you want to have friends in sometimes for pizza and DVDs and you want to include some guys.  The very real fact is that if you continue doing as you are now, your mom is going to find out about it, or sense that it is going on, and will trust you even less.  She will become more restrictive, not less, and you sure don’t want that.  I did some incredibly silly things when I was 12, and I blush now to even think about it.  I hung out with people not at all like me, knowing all the while I could never be serious about them.  And I soon discovered I was turning off the people I really DID want to hang out with.  By eighth grade I had become more the person I really was.  Think about the kind of person you really want to be, the kind of people you hope to attract, and head in that direction.  When your mother sees a growing maturity in you, she is far more likely to offer more freedom.

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