Rules at the Cave

Net Stash Reduction Goal for 2008 – 150 yards
Net Used to Date – 26 yards
Net Yards To Go – 124 yards

Not that I ever feel the need to explain my parenting skills (or lack thereof) but just to set the record straight — we do have rules, we will always have rules and there’s not much room for negotiation.  As far as curfew, if there’s something “special” going on, we can change the curfew.

Chad’s a very smart kid.  In fact, he’s on the Dean’s List now with close to a 4.0 average (if you don’t count the first semester!)  When Chad was in high school, we told him he had to have a “B” average in order to get his driver’s license.  He never did it.  He thought it was funny that his teachers told him he was brilliant but lazy!  He graduated without a driver’s license.  Then we told him when he got a job, he could get a license. He did finally get a job and get a license.

We gave him Vince’s Mazda 626 to drive and told him it was his until he got a ticket or had an accident that was his fault.  It took him 2 weeks to get a ticket going 77 in a 55 mph zone.  He used most of his savings/graduation money to pay us for the car and buy his own car insurance.

The rules about college were that he paid 100% of his tuition and books.  If he made all A’s and B’s and maybe one “C”, he got reimbursed totally.  The first semester, he made all “F’s” and one “D” and lost lots of money!  His own money!  He was shocked that he was getting none of it back.  I was shocked that he never went to class!  He continues to pay his own tuition and books and has gotten reimbursed 100% due to good grades since that first semester.

Life in the “cave” isn’t quite as cushy for Chad as it is for some 20 year olds.  I want him to always feel welcome here, to stay here while he’s going to school (mainly because of the cost of living away from home) but I also want life to be not so easy here that he never wants to leave.   His bedroom will make an excellent fabric/batting storage room!  And, the bathroom in the basement is his bathroom and I’ll be so happy to not have to run up the stairs every time I have to use it!!

So, bottom line is I love him very much, I want him here as long as he needs to be here.  Chad is the kind of kid that needs rules and needs very specific rules.  My rules will prevail and I hope one day he looks back and realizes part of what he is in life is because we had rules.

One funny story about tough love that wasn’t so funny when it happened.  One night in Owensboro Chad was mad at me about the curfew.  He came in a few minutes after midnight and while I wasn’t furious with him, I explained to him that the time to be in was midnight and not 5 minutes after midnight and as long as he lived there, he was going to be in when I said he had to be in.  He decided he would leave.  OMG . . what do I do?  Tough love kicked in and I said “I’ll miss you but if you’re going to leave tonight, go ahead and go so I can get some sleep!”  He threw all the essentials, including the guitar, in his car and as he was leaving, I told him to give me the garage door opener and the cell phone since I pay for that.  Vince was in Atlanta on business and I called him in the middle of the night crying!  I called my friend Becky first thing the next morning crying!

Seems as though Chad went to his friend’s house and the mom there, who I’ll always be grateful for her actions, said “no, you’re not staying here if you’ve had a fight with your mom.”  It was almost 1 a.m. by now and Chad didn’t have his cell phone to call anyone else so he drove to the Wal-Mart parking lot and spent the night there.  The next morning, he came home with roses and much more agreeable attitude.  I’ll always believe if he had taken the cell phone, he would have called around til he found a place to stay and might not have come home ever.

Raising kids is tough; sticking to my guns and enforcing the rules is tough.  I believe that kids, as well as adults, need to know that rules are specific and not just a guideline.  Be in by midnight doesn’t mean somewhere between midnight and 1:00 a.m.   Handicap parking spaces don’t mean it’s ok to park here if you’re not handicapped if you’re in a big hurry!   I am from the generation that means rules are definite!

As someone said, I pick the battles I want to fight.  Chad’s hair is long but it’s clean and that’s not a battle I choose to fight.  He spends money as fast as he makes it.  I’ve tried to explain to him that he needs to set aside a certain amount from each paycheck for an emergency fund.  He doesn’t and I’m not saying anything.  When he is totally broke and has a car repair bill that he doesn’t have the money for and is bumming rides or walking, he’ll learn the importance of the emergency fund without me having to say a word.

Curfew is a battle I choose to fight.  I think too much bad stuff goes on in the middle of the night (not that it doesn’t happen in the daytime too) but at our house, Chad can get his business done and get home by midnight.   Vince and I both usually wake up when Chad comes home so the time he gets in affects our lives.

He’ll graduate from college in 2 years and then, if not sooner, he’ll be out on his own and he will be free to stay out as late as he wishes.


  1. 1

    Karen L says

    Hey Judy, There is nothing wrong with having rules to raise your kids by. With our DD we did not have a curfew for her and that has worked out great as she wasn’t a problem. But our stipulation along with that was “if I recieved any calls in the middle of the night concerning anything she did, then a curfew would be put in place”. We were fortunate and recieved no calls. But we had rules for the house, #1 being: Mom is not your personal slave, you will pick up after yourself and help with the household chores and any other business as needed. Something else that we had was an open door policy, that she could have any friends out anytime just to hang out. That worked out well, her friends refered to it as Grand Central Station, but from a mothers point of view “I knew where they were and what they were doing” so it was a win win situation for all.

    Living in a cave….. My most favorite place to be is home!!!

    Karen L

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    Curfew? Absolutely! I’ve never been able to sleep until everyone is in and the house is locked up and even though I tend to be a night owl – we always had a 10PM curfew (or 12AM after they were out of high school).

    I had to laugh about the hair because I always pretty much let the boys do whatever they wanted with their hair – Adam expressed a *lot* of his personality via his different hair styles and color.

    I had rules too and while we were strict, we spent a lot of time WITH the kids (not just carting them to different activities). The results are that they both finished college and are living on their own, paying their own way (Chris at 22 and Adam at 20).

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    Judy: While I don’t have children of my own I agree whole heartedly with you. I was 28 & still living at home and MY curfew was 11PM. . . and that curfew was for both the weeknights AND weekends.

    My husband has a 21, soon to be 22 year old that was never given any rules by her mother (and my husband wasn’t allowed to do his own parenting). . . . and was always told that she was wonderful. My heart breaks for her because she is now learning that her mother did her no favors with the liberal upbringing — and the lessons that she is learning now are hurting three times more than they should. But, since I am the “evil” step-mother she doesn’t talk to me so I just sit on the sidelines & help her father deal with the fall-out.

    Keep up the good work with Chad. . . . .the world needs more parents like you, so that when the rest of us get old & “turn over the reins” we don’t have to worry because “the kids” will know what to do.

    Enjoy your day,


    PS I hope Vince is feeling better.

  4. 4

    Jeanne R. says

    You are doing a great job with Chad! God put rules in place since the beginning of time (if not there would be total chaos!), and kids constantly bump up against them to check them out to see if they’ll bend. Young adults are some the worst in that way so stand strong!

    Even the best parents have kids that do wrong at times. They make choices that are damaging, but they’ll never learn if we soften that damage. You are doing the right thing in keeping the rules firm. You’re showing your love that way and Chad knows that.

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    Thank goodness there are other parents out there that totally think like I do. I tried my best to raise my two daughters using the same rules you did. Now my oldest thanks me and my youngest still has a lot of growing up to do at age 25. I guess you can only do so much… Kudos to you! :o)

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    Randi says

    Judy, as a mother, I say you are doing a great job! As an adult probation officer, who sees too many people come through her office who might have turned out differently, had they had a mother like you, I again say you are doing a great job!

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    GOOD FOR YOU!! There should be more of us out there. When our girls where in college we had “worry time”. They were either home by midnight or they called to tell us where they were, who they were with and when they would be home. They could only make one call per night. It gave them some autonomy and us some peace of mind.

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    Pam says

    I have a son who is graduating from high school next month. He could be Chad’s twin!! He can get good grades when he does the work, but only does his homework when the spirit moves him. I’m totally borrowing your idea of making him pay his college tuition then we will reimburse him if his grades are good. I’ve been stewing about shelling out money for tuition, only to have him get bad grades. This puts the onus on him. Love it. He’s going to start at community college and live at home so it will be within his means to pay the costs. Thanks for the great solution!

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    Wow. That was amazing and insightful. My oldest is almost 8 and some days I think … “Wait?? … There’s more? There’s at least 10-15 yrs more of real full-on parenting?!” Goodness. I love to hear the stories from parents who have already been down my road. Great work. Wish me luck!!! ~jen~

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    Loretta Webre says

    I am soooooo glad to know there are other mothers out there who believe that we are here to parent our children. I can tell you I have been really blessed with 5 great children. They all had curfews and chores, they were responsible for their own college tuition and couldn’t get a vehicle until they could pay for the vehicle, the gas and the insurance. Now 4 are out on their own, and the last one is 21 and still at home with one more semester of college. I look at their lives today and wouldn’t change a thing about how strict I was, because they always knew that I loved them, and I’m sure Chad feels the same way about you.

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    Great job Judy!!! If more parents lived by some stricter, hard fast rules, I think that there would be less trouble in society. I think that some parents worry more about being their child’s “friend” instead of their parent. They need boundaries. It shows them that you care and you love them. I think your parenting ideas are wonderful, and deep down so does Chad.

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    When our son was around 15 my hubby and I had a fight about curfew..the son was just a couple of minutes late and my husband wanted to ground him. To get the point across that our rules were there for a reason and the reasons were good. I couldn’t believe it!! I was so mad at him and thought being just 5 minutes late was no big deal. Then my husband said something to me that has always stuck…he said “We are raising a man, not a boy.” That’s what you’re doing Judy. You are raising a man. Not a boy. It’s always a wise momma who picks and chooses her battles. You are raising a fine man my blogging friend.

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    When my daughter was 19, we discovered she was sleeping with her boyfriend, and was drinking at times. She had always been a good student, didn’t use drugs, always in by curfew and worked to pay for her clothes, gas, etc., so this was a shocker for us. A delayed rebellion, I guess.
    Anyway, we told her the boyfriend was not to be in our house unless there was an AWAKE parent around (I worked nights), and we would no longer pay for her insurance, as we did not want our rates to go up because she or her friends decided to drink and drive. She got mad and moved out 3 weeks before Christmas. Broke my heart.
    We never cut off communication with her; my husband bought her a microwave, and I stayed with her one evening when she took a new antibiotic in case she had a reaction. But she had a rough go of it, trying to go to college, work enough to pay all her own expenses, and keep up a living space.
    Nine months later, she called and asked if she was still welcome to move back home. We told her yes, but the rules hadn’t changed. She said she accepted that, and stayed with us until she graduated–magna cum laude.
    That happened 10 years ago, and we are so proud of the woman she’s become. Grayer, but proud.
    Some kids learn faster than others, but if parents stick to their guns and teach the concept of consequences, the offspring will come around. Good for you for having the guts to let him learn the hard way.

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    Bonnie says

    Will you parent me? Just kidding, but what I see in what you say is not just the rules themselves, but the consistency with which you apply them. I think that that is a huge element in this too. Children are very adept at picking up on a parent’s lack of standing behind what they “threaten” – I know ! My husband and I are older parents of a now 9 year old boy, and while he’s very bright and maintaining excellent grades, we’re hitting some real ‘smart-mouth, know-it-all’ bumps, delay tactics, manipulations, etc., and I see them all stemming from our inconsistencies from tiredness (did I mention being older parents? I was 45 when he was born!), memories of our own childhood treatments, some laziness and selfishness not to mention DH often having to work late.

    I too really like your ideas on the curfew, car, and tuition, and may print this for future reference! God bless you for sticking to your guns and for letting us see your life through your blog.

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    You are so lucky Chad’s friend’s mother is of a like mind. I know so many parents who want to be “cool” and take in friends of their teenagers when things get uncomfortable at home. They don’t understand that they aren’t doing anyone any favors. They are just making life’s lessons harder for the children.
    My DD and I had major problems when she was in high school. Her favorite saying was “if you just let me do what I want there wouldn’t be a problem”. Now she is a dancer and they are only contracted for 33 weeks out of the year. She supports herself summers babysitting. I have to laugh when she will say “The kids are just horrible. Their parents just let them do whatever they want.” :cD

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    I applaud you! You’re a great Mom for setting and keeping to the rules of your HOME. It’s a privledge, not a right, for a kid to have a place to live. It is ALL about tough love.

    Your post reminded me of Jaces favorite story he just LOVES to tell everyone. And this is the worst thing I ever did, in my whole life!!! No joke.

    When I was 18 – I had my first boyfriend that I met while attending college. Curfew was midnight. Not wanting to look like a lame 18 year old mama’s girl, I didn’t call my Mom to tell her I was going to be late (the guy lived an hour away and we went to see a movie – he was a loser without a car). Instead of calling my Mom to explain, I hauled butt home and got in at 1am.
    Jace was sitting in the living room, furious, waiting for me. I wanted to die. He grounded me. While I was in college.
    8 years later, I’m still ashamed of my stupidity. But stuff like this DOES stick with us! I am so grateful my Mom (and Jace) stuck to their guns, picked their battles and were “mean.” Even if I did get my feathers ruffled a few times over thier “meaness.” ahhahha

    Now I see kids my age (and younger) and think – OMG, I could have been like that – WHERE ARE THE PARENTS!?!?

    And then there is the fact that I have 3 little ones that will one day be teens. It hurts my heart to know I will probably one day be battling them. But I know the payoff will be worth it and I pray with all my heart, my kids take after me! LOL I was so boring from teenager aspect.