General Question

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

What must a kid avoid in order to "turn out ok"?

Asked by MyNewtBoobs (19026points) September 28th, 2010

When a kid starts hanging out with a goth group, or whatever, many times the parent will ask “Should I intervene”? Many will then try to calm them down, saying that they themselves were once a goth kid, and they turned out alright. But what must the kid avoid in order to “turn out alright”? If the kid doesn’t just wear the makeup, but is cutting, is it ok so long as they don’t kill themselves and eventually join the Peace Corp? Is a heroin addiction ok if they eventually become a well-paid and respected lawyer/doctor? Sacrificing a goat?

For example, when I was a teen, I was very depressed. I became suicidal, and did some self-injury. When I was 21, I tried to kill myself. Now, I think I’ve turned out pretty well, but would the journey be too harsh for a parent to say “it’s just a phase”?

So, what must a kid avoid in order to “turn out ok”? From the kids point of view? What about the parents point of view?

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40 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

The kid needs to avoid judgmental controlling parents. A child needs to explore on their own and with good counsel from their parents can do so and still turn out OK. Pretty simple but takes parents with a strong stomach and patience.

Jude's avatar

They need to have a good support system.

It’ll work out if they do.

Blackberry's avatar

Their mother smoking crack-cocaine while pregnant? I think many people can overcome things that a lot would look at and say “Oh they’re life is done for”.

DominicX's avatar

That kind of thing is a gamble. It might have been a phase for you, but for some, it ends there. Any activity that endangers your life or seems to be a harbinger of further damage and endangerment (cutting, suicidal tendencies, drug addiction, binge drinking, etc.) should probably be avoided. For some it may just end up begin a phase, but for others it might mean a fucked up life or no life at all.

I wouldn’t say cutting is “okay” under any circumstances. Like I said, it’s a gamble. It might turn out to be nothing serious in the future, but it might be a serious problem. It’s something that should be dealt with and the kid should get help for. I don’t see those things as “phases” as much I see them as serious issues.

FutureMemory's avatar

Growing up in a small town that stifles personal development.

A home environment that lacks a positive adult role model.


YARNLADY's avatar

Avoid any life threatening disease, avoid getting put in jail, avoid overdosing on drugs (or in my point of view, using drugs at all), avoid destroying your hearing on loud music, avoid damaging your liver beyond repair, avoid getting shot or in a serious auto collision because of being under the influence.

talljasperman's avatar

you must avoid doing something your not passionate about… just for the money

Vunessuh's avatar

People don’t turn out okay by avoiding things. That’s not how it works.
And if anyone lives their life making it a goal to try and avoid pain, discomfort and damage, they’re automatically causing themselves more trouble than they would if they allowed themselves to experience the feelings, emotions and results that arise from situations that are less than ideal. The bad shit builds tremendous character and strength, but only if you allow it to. If you don’t, you’re depriving yourself of some major growth.
Now yes, this is combined with having a good head on your shoulders and surrounding yourself with a decent support system, but it’s not impossible to be okay without these things.
I, for example, had real shitty support from my parents and I didn’t seek out much support through anyone else and I dealt with a lot, not to mention put myself through a lot, but in retrospect I’m glad my life unfolded in the way that it did because my reception to it truly did me a lot of favors. This doesn’t mean I’ll ever stop working on myself. As a human being, I am always a work in progress, but because of any bullshit I have and/or will experience, I will also be okay.

DominicX's avatar

So we should let kids cut themselves because it “builds character”? Keep in mind cutting was one of the things mentioned in the question, which is why I addressed it specifically. I’m not advocating people ignore their feelings, but there are good ways and bad ways to express/vent such feelings.

Vunessuh's avatar

Sorry, but I didn’t make my response all about you and your answer.
I chose to answer how I saw fit and what I felt needed to be added to the discussion.

Seriously, those are the type of responses that discourage people from participating here in the first place. Patronize someone else with your I take everything too personally attitude.

DominicX's avatar

I asked a question. Can you answer it? I was confused on whether or not you included destructive behavior (cutting, drug addiction, etc.) as referred to by the OP in the character-building “bad shit” that a person should let themselves experience. Or were you only referring to the feelings themselves?

josie's avatar

Parents who micromanage their lives. Helicopter parents. Enabling parents. Bad parents.

Deja_vu's avatar

I wouldn’t say all goth kids are cutters or depressed. I was a gothy kid. I was just artsy. I still have that haze. I wish my parents were nicer to me at the time, because it did freak them out a little. Now my family embrasses my artistic side. I turned out fine. But, if a kid is cutting themelves, that’s no phase, thats a problem. Parents should intervene no matter what genre the kid’s into.

Vunessuh's avatar

Nowhere in my answer did I state that cutting builds character. Nowhere in my answer did I state that someone should let themselves experience bad shit in order to build their character. I’m surprised this needs to be explained, but if you’re already going through hell, keep going. That’s where I’m coming from. The best you can do is come out stronger on the other side and take what you’ve learned and apply it to the other facets of your life so you will in turn be okay. Hence, trying to avoid your problems doesn’t really get you anywhere and it causes more harm than good.

You asked a question that you already knew the answer to because it was right in front of your face. You acted off of feeling like my answer wasn’t good enough for the OP or was somehow in direct retaliation toward something you said in your answer, when it clearly wasn’t.
It’s not all about you. We’ve done this song and dance before.

I’m out.

DominicX's avatar


“If you’re going through hell, keep going”. That’s where we disagree. I don’t believe that is the solution and you seem to think that your choice is continue or “avoid” it. What about making a conscious effort to end it? I wouldn’t call that avoiding it as much as I would call that stopping it, which should be a goal. Nowhere did I say it was all about me; that was a personal question of mine that I wanted answered, because I truly was not clear on your stance. Avoiding =/= stopping it.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

A child must be taught the concept of right and wrong.
They need to understand and desire to do the right thing. :)

SuperMouse's avatar

As the parent of a child on the verge of adolescence and at the start of middle school – with two others not far behind, I tend to give this a lot of thought.

I think that if a child grows into a happy, healthy, well functioning adult then they are ok. I also tend to think this really comes down to the person having respect for his/herself and for the people and world around them. I would include in this group folks whose hearing might have been damaged and even people with permanent disabilities as a result of their choices. These people are not necessarily left with the easiest cards to play but if they live up to the first two requirements then they too are doing fine. I would like to think that avoiding drugs, alcohol, loud music, jail time, etc. would make it all alright, but unfortunately I am not convinced. I may be jaded, but I tend to think of some challenging things as rites of passage that even be necessary. The question then becomes does the kid have the wherewithal to make it through the challenges and come out the other end. If they do then they are going to be ok.

Vunessuh's avatar

Avoiding your demons, issues and temptations does not mean you are putting a stop to them when they are already in front of your face. If they are already there, you can’t avoid them. You have to deal with them, therefore putting a stop to them.
I think we really are on the same page, but we’re looking at the situation differently.
You’re talking about issues that have yet to occur at all and I’m talking about issues that are already there.

Problem solved. Nice doing business with you.

tranquilsea's avatar

I think @mama_cakes hit the nail on the head. You can go through a lot of crap in your life and if you have a good support system you have an excellent chance of making it through.

There are too many variables to consider here if you want one plan of action. What one child needs to make it may harm another child.

Things like cutting, depression, suicidal tendencies are all things that need professional help. Hopefully the parents are with it enough to realize that and seek out help for their child.

YARNLADY's avatar

@SuperMouse people who have self respect do not deliberately damage their hearing by listening to loud music continuously. I was referring to those who end up getting SSI because they have permanently disabled themselves.

hopscotchy's avatar

Ritalin, among other things.

Frenchfry's avatar

Stay away from the gangs. Have you ever watch the show Gangland? Enstill that in your child it is not worth it to have the feeling of belonging to something.

SuperMouse's avatar

@YARNLADY That is a good point, thanks for the clarification.

Nullo's avatar

Drugs, bad influences.
I’d keep the TV consumption down, too. I did much of my growing up in an area with lousy reception and no cable, so my entertainment came from books (family reading time was a favorite of mine), games, crafts, and playing in the yard.

Ron_C's avatar

I don’t consider myself an expert. When my kids were growing up, I traveled a lot, my wife worked but we took family vacations, camped, rode bikes, and the kids had many school activities. I do know that the schools in Virginia were we lived were sub-standard. There was poor organization, very poor teaching, and some pretty dangerous kids and parents.

We moved back to Pennsylvania where our kids would have a better chance in a small town environment.

Here, parents took real interest and control in public schools, there are still some bad influences but it turned out that my kids formed close friendships with kids in whom I did not approve. The funny thing is that my kids turned out to be a good influence on them and everybody turned out extremely well.

There was the incident of with one of my kids having an argument with the principle, and a beer party or two in the woods, and an incident were we ended up cancelling HBO but on the whole they were well behaved (for teenagers) well educated and successful in business and with their own families. I would like to take credit but it seems that our kids took care of themselves with minimal guidance from my wife and I. I’m not sure what or if we did anything to cause this I am the least qualified to guide anyone in childcare.

squirbel's avatar

This is seriously a cultural issue, and the reason so many of you people grow up to be serial killers and shoot up schools when things don’t go your way.

A parent is a child’s leader in life, not their helpmeet. A parent can shift into the helpmeet stage once the child is independent, but until then, the parent is a teacher.

A parent teaches their child, and a good parent is attuned to a child and leads them through their interests. I firmly believe a parent should not let a child “go free to explore” because they will definitely get themselves into something that’s hard to get out of.

tranquilsea's avatar

I think it is my job as a parent to let my kids “go free to explore”...age appropriately and under appropriate levels of supervision. It is my job to make sure they have the tools (both physical and emotional) to do so.

zen_'s avatar

My kids are now grown teens and I feel they’ve turned out more than alright. Nature and nurture – who knows? But one thing I am sure of, and it was recently written about after (yet another) major study – the connection between love and child development. In this particular study, it showed that kids that were given a lot of love were less likely to try drugs.

I adore my kids; I am absolutely gaga pver them and enjoy every moment of their time they give me. I can’t stop kissing and hugging them, and they know how much I love them. Even my son, who is older now, doesn’t mind a hug and kiss from his dad and reciprocates. This special bond of love has certain insular values and helps ward off everything from depression to the common cold.

Jude's avatar

^^ Now, that’s a good Dad.

FutureMemory's avatar

I like what Zen said. i think it’s sad that a lot of dad’s don’t show affection towards their male children beyond a quick hug or pat on the back.

zen_'s avatar

Everybody reading this: stop everything and go hug and kiss you kids. ;-)

mattbrowne's avatar

Expecting his or her parents to not set any boundaries.

Nullo's avatar

@mattbrowne I agree; I’ve heard time and again that boundary-setting is crucial to a child’s development.

Ron_C's avatar

The last three answers from @zen_ @mattbrowne and @Nullo are completely correct. The only thing that I would add is that as the kids age, it may be a good thing to let them violate a boundary or two. First, it shows them that they do have a free wheel, and second, there is a good chance that something bad will happen when the boundary is broken.

I told my youngest to stay off the motorcycle when I wasn’t around to supervise. She took it into the woods and dumped it and ended up with a pretty severe burn on her leg. I figured that no more punishment was necessary. She turned out to be a pretty responsible rider with a barely noticeable scar on her leg and a healthy respect for exhaust pipes.

truecomedian's avatar

Don’t take it for granted
See the beauty in everything cause it’s there
Don’t carry more than you can
Know when to withdraw your fangs and deliver enough posion
Walk on water cause you know where the stones are
Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing
Don’t ever have to hitchhike
Do your homework early
Learn how far down your willing to fall in life, and go up from there
Don’t ever talk foolishly to more than one person at a time
Know that the mainstream feels the poor are good thus worthy of charity, and the rich know there generally not, and that’s why their poor
Be careful who you piss off, but piss off somebody

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ron_C – Absolutely. Setting boundaries for everything does harm the child. It will turn into a robot who has just learned to follow orders unable to question anything. Completely dependent as an adult. So, balance is key.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

From a parents point of view, stay away from drugs! all drugs and that includes marijuana. From a kids point of view? Too long ago for me to remember but as a kid I think I would want my parents to teach me moral values that I see in practice from them.

Cruiser's avatar

This question came up in my new activity and at first I thought it was a new question…low and behold, I answered this 4 years ago and I was about to give the same exact answer I did back then. I would give myself a Good Answer if I could

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