Please Don’t Be Mad, Mom, But…

When our teens tell us something that upsets us, quite often our first reaction isn't the best reaction

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: Please Don’t Be Mad, Mom, But…

Written By: Carol Moore

“Please, don’t be mad, Mom, but”…

This was how the text from my son started. “I got another speeding ticket” was how it continued. He had been driving for five years, and this was speeding ticket number three.

So many thoughts ran through my head, and not all of them were good. My first thoughts were clearly rooted in fear:

“What was he thinking?”

“This is going to cost a fortune!”

“What is it going to take for him to learn?”

Thankfully, I didn’t text or speak any of my initial thoughts to him.

Please Don’t Be Mad, Mom, But…


I took a breath and while I was pacing the kitchen floor, my next thoughts came to me:

“I’m so grateful he wasn’t in an accident.”

“I’m glad he felt safe enough to let me know right after it happened.”

“I exceed the speed limit all the time. I know he must feel terrible.”

Responding to my first thoughts would have been a mess. It would have been reactive and emotionally driven. Sure, it would have been a chance for me to vent and relieve the pressure of my own feelings. But it certainly wouldn’t have been productive or helpful.

 My son called me because he needed me. My first reaction would have pushed him away and sent the clear message that he couldn’t freely come to me when he messed up. 

But by pausing for just a couple of minutes before texting him back, the response he got was rooted in grace. I knew he was bummed. I knew he was remorseful. He was probably filled with shame and embarrassment. He didn’t need my words or opinions to evoke these feelings in himself. It could just as easily have been me getting the ticket. 

I am an ally for kids, not the opposition. That doesn’t mean that I like or condone everything they do. It simply means that we will work things out together and that I will help them find solutions when problems arise while also allowing them to learn from their mistakes. 

There were certainly natural consequences he was going to experience as a result of getting this third speeding ticket. He knew he would have to pay fines incurred from the citation. He knew he was going to have to pay for the increase in his insurance premium. These things were all made clear when he got his driver’s license, so there was no confusion about expectations and accountability.

He also, and most importantly, learned through this process that driving too fast can have far more serious consequences than a fine or an increased insurance premium.

When I called him to hear about what had happened, he was very upset – I just listened. Some things would need to be sorted out and we talked about what steps would need to be taken. Honestly, there were plenty of things I could have said and perhaps even wanted to say, but I held my tongue. There was no reason to say anything to make him feel worse than he already did.

My role is to guide my boy as he learns about life’s hardships and ups and downs. Not necessarily to remove the obstacles, but to help him navigate his way through and around them.

Our kids are going to mess up a lot. They’re supposed to. It’s how they learn.

They don’t need us to emphasize their mistakes. And, they certainly don’t need us to slap an exclamation point after their mess-ups highlighting their blunders or imperfections. 

They need a safe place to process this stuff. Not a judge or a jury, but someone who will counsel, support, and walk alongside the messes. As parents, we have accepted this incredible privilege of mentoring our children. Let us never misuse this privilege with judgment or condemnation. Not even subtly. Let us never forget that our kids have not mastered life, growing up, or being human. Because we haven’t even done that.


About Carol Moore

Carol is a certified Coach, Parenting Teens Advocate, and author of Bridges Not Barriers – The Art of Building a Better Connection with Your Teen. She is also a designated Global Presence Ambassador for Parenting 2.0, a non-profit organization recognized around the globe for the Life Skills educational process. With 15 years of experience working with young children and their families, and having raised two teens of her own, she has a passion for sharing her knowledge in raising teens with grace, compassion, honesty, and trust. Follow Carol on Instagram and check out her book here: BRIDGES Not BARRIERS: The Art of Building a Better Connection with Your Teen

If you enjoyed reading, “Please Don’t Be Mad, Mom, But…” you may also enjoy reading these posts:

EVERY Teen is Capable of Making an Epic Mistake – We Need to Remember That, Parents

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No One Told Me I’d Worry This Much About My Teen

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