According to “Live with Kelly and Michael” co-host Kelly Ripa, her 13-year-old daughter Lola isn’t her biggest fan. Yahoo News reports:
“I don’t think she likes me, but I don’t care. I’m like, ‘I’m not your friend, I’m your mom,'” Ripa told Wendy Williams. “I just feel an obligation as her mom to keep her living in the real world. I don’t care who you are or what you do, if you’re a mom, you’re a mom.”
Ripa, 44, explained that not only is she a source of embarrassment for her teen, but recently, she and her husband, Mark Consuelos, were forced to punish their daughter. Ripa said she revoked their daughter’s phone and Internet privileges because she was using her phone when she was supposed to be studying Spanish.
It’s an interesting insight into the private life of a very public figure. As if parenting isn’t fraught with enough perils and pressures, Ripa and her husband, Mark Consuelos, are raising kids in the spotlight — where they’re expected to smile for the cameras and perform anytime they’re in public. Their children are privileged — one percenters by almost any standards — so raising children who are not spoiled brats (see: the debacle they call the Kardashian family) increases the degree of parenting difficulty exponentially.
Kids need to learn early on that the world doesn’t revolve around them and they’re not the center of the universe — they shouldn’t be permitted demand to worship and adoration (things that should be reserved for God). All things considered, Ripa seems to be trying to keep her kids grounded and as she said, “living in the real world,” which is rather refreshing in a culture where discipline and accountability are increasingly out of fashion and parents want their kids to be their BFFs.
But about Ripa’s comment that she doesn’t care if her daughter likes her. Should she care? Should you care if your kids (in particular, kids of the teenage variety) don’t like you? Should your popularity with your kids guide how you respond to them and make decisions about parenting? Or is it better to plow ahead with your decisions, ignoring how your kids feel about you?
Out of curiosity, I texted my 20-year-old son, Kyle, who is a sophomore in college, and asked him for his opinion (now that we’ve moved past the teen years). He said, “It’s normal for kids to feel like that, but it shouldn’t define their relationship.”
I think that’s exactly right.
Teenagers are notoriously moody creatures. Their minds and bodies are growing at a freakishly alarming rate and their hormones are raging in ways they don’t understand. It’s almost as if they’ve been transplanted into the body of an alien being and they’re struggling to learn to live inside their strange new host body. Some days they act like perfectly well-adjusted adults. Other days their behavior reminds you of the 3-year-old son who threw a tantrum in the checkout line at the grocery store when you wrestled the Baby Ruth out of his chubby little fist. One day they’re up, the next they’re down. They get angry — at their friends, at themselves, and especially at their parents, with whom they feel safest.
The key is to not stay there, and as Kyle said, not to let it define your relationship. If your kids are upset about a decision you’ve made or a disciplinary measure you’ve had to impose, they may not like you for a few hours or even a few days. It happens. I asked Kyle if he ever felt like he didn’t like us when he was a teenager. “There were points when I wrestled with that,” he admitted.
“Right back at ya!” I texted back to him (adding a smiley face).
Of course, I knew that there were times my kids didn’t like me. When you live with people there will be inevitable conflicts and there are times in even the most loving relationships that people don’t “like” each other and need a little space. While disrespect and bad behavior should be met with appropriate consequences, if you go through a time where your popularity ratings with your kids plummet, it’s not the end of the world. If you’ve done the hard work of establishing limits (and enforcing them) while simultaneously building a loving relationship with your children, those are the things that will ultimately define your relationship rather than the occasional door-slamming and silent treatment.
image illustration via shutterstock / Tomacco