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Salon declines

2001-05-26 01:27:03+00 by Dan Lyke 9 comments

Salon is pissing me off. I know they've been declining for a while, and I subscribed not because I think it would make a difference given their horrificly bad management, but because I felt a touch of whimsy, but today... they ran an article which miscast a 12 year old's fascination with computer games as a porn fixation, which finished with the amazingly clueless 'And while he sleeps, maybe I'll whisper in his ear, "Hey, sweet boy, could you stay a kid just a little longer?"'. Now I realize that most mothers apparently have lobotomies that happen sometime before conception and last 'til a little after the kid goes off to college (well, how would you[Wiki] explain it, then?), but do the editors of Salon[Wiki] have to help this poor woman show just how little she understands human beings? I mean, c'mon, what-in-the-hell does she expect is happening with a 12 year old boy? Why this amazing desire to deny reality? Sheesh.

[ related topics: Sexual Culture ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:43+00 by: Dori

Hmmm... I read the same article, and I didn't get that at all. But then again, I have a 12 year old boy, at just about that same level of development from the sounds of things.

The kid was doing well in school, but then all of a sudden he started lying to his folks and his grades collapsed. In that case, as a parent, you start trying to figure out what's changed so that you can give the kid some focused advice. She found that he'd started looking at porn on the web--not a big surprise, imo.

She, the kid, and the dad had a long talk about porn pros & cons, and I personally can't really disagree with anything she said there.

In regards to the wishing he'd stay a kid a little longer, boy, can I relate to that. I just got back from 2 weeks away, and I could swear that he grew several inches during that time. As I see it, people grow and change their entire lives, and that's normal; it's just that with kids it happens considerably faster than with adults. All she's saying is that this kid is growing up to be someone new and different, and she's going to miss the person he's been. As I said, I can relate--most teenage boys don't hug their mothers much, and I know that at any point, this could be the last hug I get for years.

it's not a serious "Don't ever grow up" attitude. It's just that whenever people change, it's natural to look back and wish sometimes that we could still have that previous person around.

But then, that's just my take on the topic.

Backup Brain

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:43+00 by: Larry Burton

I've got to agree with Dori on this, Dan. My youngest son turned 12 today and I'm seeing those types of changes in him. I've got a little of an advantage in having made the mistakes of ignorance with his older brother. It isn't that you want them to stay a child and not grow up, it's that they do it so fast and it's easy to miss out out on some very special moments that won't be repeated as they grow. It's easy to be nostalgic for what has happened just six months ago.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:43+00 by: Dan Lyke

Two things ticked me off. The first was that the article was cast as a porn article when the kid's access to pornography is only an incidental bit to the story. In fact there's nothing presented in the article that indicates that he was checking out any of these sites before they took away Roller Coaster Tycoon[Wiki].

The second is that it seems like the author is in this huge state of denial. She asks:

What were you thinking when you walked in here every day for a month and lied to us? To your father? To your sister who sat at the table doing hours of homework?"

There was a pause and then: "I wanted to see what I could get away with."

Now that's what adolescence is all about. Going from that sheltered dependence upon parents and authorities to keep us safe to expanding out and discovering what the real limits of the world are. Sheltering kids from this expansion is clearly the wrong thing to do, if you deliberately keep kids ignorant you'll end up with milquetoast adults who never risk and never dare, so proffering guidance with an understanding of what they're going through and an acceptance of what they're experiencing is the only way to let them grow without getting hurt.

At best this kid is going to go away to college with a mother who still beleives that he's eleven and is willing to bail him out. While it might make her feel more comfortable in the short run, it's not going to help him long-term.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:43+00 by: Dori

Dan, I think that you're reading a lot more into this than is actually there.

It's a coming of age piece; no more, no less. No, it's not about porn, but making the headline and blurb sound like it's about porn gets more people to read it, I'm sure.

What I don't understand is why you think that the parents are in a state of denial, or even what it is that you think that they're denying.

I didn't get the impression that they were sheltering the kid, or keeping him from either "expanding out" or "discovering the real limits of the world." And I sure didn't get the impression that they were deliberately trying to keep him ignorant, given that they had a long talk with him about the pros and cons of pornography.

So, I'm curious: what would you have recommended that the parents do? Both parents, not just the mom. Not talk to the kid about sexuality? Not motivate him to improve his grades? Not call him on his lies?

Backup Brain

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:44+00 by: Dan Lyke

I'm not sure I'd have the parents do anything different, I just wish people who build sandcastles would write essays celebrating the sandcastles, not bemoaning the tide.

I'm seeing a parallel to the state of a friend of mine who's watching her kids go through the same process, and rather than acknowledging that they're changing she's still got this image of them as kids.

The result is that other adults, the ones who acknowledge the change, have a much better rapport with her oldest kid. And suddenly she's missing out on the chance to guide and influence a major portion of his maturation process; he's coming to us, her friends, but ones who don't see eye-to-eye with her on a lot of her ethical and moral stances, for guidance.

Calling kids on their lies only works if you're coming from a state of integrity. That mother wasn't. What do you think's going to happen when the kid learns a little more about computers and works out that his mother sent that infamous email that she gloats about? There's more than a little credibility lost.

I'd have them talk to him about the reasons he might want to improve his grades. And not in some bullshit "your permanent record" fashion, or even a "you have to", but from the standpoint of "yes, you can accomplish everything you want to without them, it'll just be a steeper hill later."

But most of all, unless they've got any insight into the process of raising a kid, I'd like Salon to stop running their rambling.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:44+00 by: topspin

First, I've not a parental bone in my body. I admit it. So everything I type past here may be seen as so much crap by those who actively parent.... I dunno.

The article sucks because it misrepresents itself from the start. Yeah, it's a cute little coming of age piece..... for Mom, not the boy. The boy has many more limits to test, lies to tell his family, homework to blow off, etc. As Dan said, he's a 12yo and he's pushing his social limits with lies, deception, and irresponsibility. Does this deserve an article? Nah, but there's some DSM-IVR angles related to the Mom's behavior that could've made the article work for me.

Further, the article sucks because the kid doesn't get the chance to tell his side of things. Mom's putting his business well beyond the street and into a national magazine, but does he get to reply? Does she tell him she's using him for an article and ask for his help and comments about the family drama that went down? It doesn't seem so. Ms. Nightingale (there's some irony for ya) does what she accuses the boy of doing: taking what's supposed to be private and making it public. Do we hear directly from the boy in the article? No. Does he get to tell his side of growing up with Mom? No.

Mom, at the end of the article, chooses to slap "parental controls" on the kid's net access rather than educate him and honestly inform him that his parents may sometimes monitor/check where he's surfing. She muses of steering him toward "good" movies and God rather than "bad" movies and balling. She wails "his childhood is slipping through my fingers at such an accelerated speed." [emphasis mine] This is a woman with control issues and probably some sexual issues who spends an entire article trying to project her problems onto her son or onto society.

Ya gotta feel bad for the boy. His Mom's a freak.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:44+00 by: Larry Burton

First, his mom is a mom, not a freak. She's having to reconcile some feelings about her son suddenly having an interest in hooters renewed after a lack of interest in them for eleven years. And the new interest has nothing to do with nourishment.

Second, I never got out of the story anything other than it just being the mom's perspective of being a mom with a son going through puberty. Of course that may just be because I'm reading the story as a father of a seventeen year-old son and a twelve year-old son.

As far as parental controls go, I've demonstrated my abilities to hack into my sons' accounts while sitting in front of them. I'll let their imagination and trust in my respecting their privacy determine what they think they might want to try to get away with. I've also told them that strong suspicions of things that might cause them harm is enough for me to disregard any and all privacy. I don't think the lady was out of line.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:44+00 by: Jette

I think the article is poorly written -- the author's cute conceit of referring to her son as "the boy" got old fast, among other things. It could have provided interesting insight into the ways that parents try to protect their pre-teens, but the writing style kept irritating me. A better writer would have had us sympathizing with her, not wondering if she's ever had a clue about anything.

Salon has some interesting ideas for articles, but the execution is often clumsy or disappointing. I don't have a paid subscription to their Web site.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:48+00 by: debbie ann

The part that really made me angry is that she gets an anon account and sends her kid email trying to scare him. She LIES to him and then complains when he lies to her. That whole article pissed me off.