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YPestis

Maxwell parents naive or just simple?

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YPestis

Their most recent Mom's Corner is typical Maxwellian. Their kids get along sooooo great. The girls and boys spend hours and hours together and still find stuff to talk about at night! And since the siblings get along so well, they WANT to all share bedrooms. What's interesting is this:

 

My heart rejoices with these kinds of interactions between the girls because it proves that they enjoy each other, they choose to be together, and they will maintain those relationships throughout their lives even when they are married with families of their own.

 

Are the Maxwell parents so naive to think that just because their kids "get along" now, that this guarantees they will hold this closeness through marriages, kids, and (possibly) long distance? I had this type of magic thinking when I was little when I swore BFF on kids moving to another school. Having endured multiple moves now, I know that my relationship can and will change with each new development in my life. School, work, marriage. All of these things will redefine my relationships. Some will drift away, others I will maintain. But I rarely maintain the same type of intimacy when separated from people through time and distance. Honestly, I feel the Maxwell parents maintain their lifestyle because they want to keep their kids in perpetual infantile state.

 

The thing is, it's normal for kids to leave the nest, and part of life is knowing sibling relationships will change, maybe even turn sour. That's just life. Even in the Maxwell kids limited lives, if the daughters marry someone in another state, they may end up with close girl friends, or become closer to their own family. It's interesting that despite their harping about sibling relationships, Steve and Teri themselves don't seem to enjoy the "same" type of closeness with their immediate family members. Does Teri keep in daily contact with her sister? Does Steve keep in close contact with his mother living in another state or the sibling that cares for mom? You'd think they understand that the nature progression of life is people's lives are constantly changing. You cannot expect the same family dynamic once your children move out. Siblings will marry and have kids. Some will pull apart, others will maintain closeness. I don't think sharing all this togetherness is healthy or guarantees that the Maxwell children will not gravitate towards future spouses or children. It just amazes me how naive the parents are to think their kids will continue in this state once they marry and have their own children to tend to.

 

 

When families write us about problems their children have gotten into concerning the Internet, their phones, outside relationships, music, and more, those children often had their own bedrooms. They had the privacy to give in to temptation when they were faced with it.

 

Having one's own bedroom does not, in of itself, bring horrible things into children's lives. Instead of talking about "accountability" (code word for having a perpetual spy), how about personal responsibility? Here again, the Maxwell parents have this weird, child-like perspective of the world. Things are either black or white. People share bedrooms and stay pure or have their own bedroom and end up doing heroin. Teens can either stay Christian and at home or go to college and become feminist abortionists. There's no middle ground with them. No understanding of the complexity of the world.

 

I think fundies in general have this issue. It's why they observe such a literal interpretation of the Bible. A more nuanced perspective would require a higher level thinking that they avoid in general.

 

For the Maxwells, this type of simplistic thinking bleeds into every aspect of their lives. They can't fathom their family dynamic shifting. They try to walk through the basic milestones of life by letting married sons out of the house, but their psychological hold maintains. Even married sons still come back to Casa Maxwell regularly.

 

The weird thing for me is the Maxwell parents should know better. Steve and Teri talk about being each others' best (and only) friends because that's supposedly what married people do. Steve appears to have distance from his parents, especially his father. Both write of shutting out family members who expose their children to nonMaxwell approved beliefs. Yet, they turn around and proclaim that their own children would never separate from each other, that they will always be so close, and maintain the same belief system.

 

As I grow older, I come to realize I do not have control over everything. My carefully laid plans has veered off course on many occasions. The relationships I cultivate change as I change. I learn that life can provide surprises whether I welcome them or not. Yet, the Maxwells seem so smug in their magical thinking that they will never change, that this carefully controlled environment will never get disrupted, that everyone will live close by and raise their children to fall under the thralls of the Almighty Steve. I guess they believe their controlled lives inoculates them against outside influences. Is this arrogance or just naivety to think they can control their life like that?

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Koala
In addition to the relationship-building, character-building aspect of sharing a bedroom, we found out that brothers sharing a bedrooms and sisters sharing a bedroom also gives great accountability. When families write us about problems their children have gotten into concerning the Internet, their phones, outside relationships, music, and more, those children often had their own bedrooms. They had the privacy to give in to temptation when they were faced with it.

Unfortunate that "the children" in this case are 30, 20 and 16.

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luckystone

I think they're neither. I think they're controlling.

Most adults I know (early 20s - might change later) are closer with their siblings than with their best friends. I think that's nice, and perfectly natural. But yes, it shouldn't be enforced.

I actually do think own bedrooms are "risky" (especially if there are computers in there) but as you say, the thing is teaching personal responsibility etc. not preventing own-bedrooms.

Are they even allowed doors on their bedrooms?

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fundiefan
Their most recent Mom's Corner is typical Maxwellian. Their kids get along sooooo great. The girls and boys spend hours and hours together and still find stuff to talk about at night! And since the siblings get along so well, they WANT to all share bedrooms. What's interesting is this:

My heart rejoices with these kinds of interactions between the girls because it proves that they enjoy each other, they choose to be together, and they will maintain those relationships throughout their lives even when they are married with families of their own.

Are the Maxwell parents so naive to think that just because their kids "get along" now, that this guarantees they will hold this closeness through marriages, kids, and (possibly) long distance? I had this type of magic thinking when I was little when I swore BFF on kids moving to another school. Having endured multiple moves now, I know that my relationship can and will change with each new development in my life. School, work, marriage. All of these things will redefine my relationships. Some will drift away, others I will maintain. But I rarely maintain the same type of intimacy when separated from people through time and distance. Honestly, I feel the Maxwell parents maintain their lifestyle because they want to keep their kids in perpetual infantile state.

The thing is, it's normal for kids to leave the nest, and part of life is knowing sibling relationships will change, maybe even turn sour. That's just life. Even in the Maxwell kids limited lives, if the daughters marry someone in another state, they may end up with close girl friends, or become closer to their own family. It's interesting that despite their harping about sibling relationships, Steve and Teri themselves don't seem to enjoy the "same" type of closeness with their immediate family members. Does Teri keep in daily contact with her sister? Does Steve keep in close contact with his mother living in another state or the sibling that cares for mom? You'd think they understand that the nature progression of life is people's lives are constantly changing. You cannot expect the same family dynamic once your children move out. Siblings will marry and have kids. Some will pull apart, others will maintain closeness. I don't think sharing all this togetherness is healthy or guarantees that the Maxwell children will not gravitate towards future spouses or children. It just amazes me how naive the parents are to think their kids will continue in this state once they marry and have their own children to tend to.

When families write us about problems their children have gotten into concerning the Internet, their phones, outside relationships, music, and more, those children often had their own bedrooms. They had the privacy to give in to temptation when they were faced with it.

Having one's own bedroom does not, in of itself, bring horrible things into children's lives. Instead of talking about "accountability" (code word for having a perpetual spy), how about personal responsibility? Here again, the Maxwell parents have this weird, child-like perspective of the world. Things are either black or white. People share bedrooms and stay pure or have their own bedroom and end up doing heroin. Teens can either stay Christian and at home or go to college and become feminist abortionists. There's no middle ground with them. No understanding of the complexity of the world.

I think fundies in general have this issue. It's why they observe such a literal interpretation of the Bible. A more nuanced perspective would require a higher level thinking that they avoid in general.

For the Maxwells, this type of simplistic thinking bleeds into every aspect of their lives. They can't fathom their family dynamic shifting. They try to walk through the basic milestones of life by letting married sons out of the house, but their psychological hold maintains. Even married sons still come back to Casa Maxwell regularly.

The weird thing for me is the Maxwell parents should know better. Steve and Teri talk about being each others' best (and only) friends because that's supposedly what married people do. Steve appears to have distance from his parents, especially his father. Both write of shutting out family members who expose their children to nonMaxwell approved beliefs. Yet, they turn around and proclaim that their own children would never separate from each other, that they will always be so close, and maintain the same belief system.

As I grow older, I come to realize I do not have control over everything. My carefully laid plans has veered off course on many occasions. The relationships I cultivate change as I change. I learn that life can provide surprises whether I welcome them or not. Yet, the Maxwells seem so smug in their magical thinking that they will never change, that this carefully controlled environment will never get disrupted, that everyone will live close by and raise their children to fall under the thralls of the Almighty Steve. I guess they believe their controlled lives inoculates them against outside influences. Is this arrogance or just naivety to think they can control their life like that?

Bolded is where it all falls apart. They don't choose to be together. They have no choice. They don't know other people and aren't allowed to interact with any of the people they may slightly know without a sibling present.

They choose nothing. They do what they know and what is available to them. There is no choice involved.

It's not naive or simple on their parent's part. It's intentional and disgusting.

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lilith

Sarah is one year younger than me, and she's being "protected" from the "temptations" of her phone and the Internet by having to share a room, and every second of her life, with her teenage sister.

Meanwhile Joseph, in his early twenties and living every day "protected" by the constant presence of his brothers, was deemed ready to be the headship of a household and to make adult decisions by the magic of his marriage. But since that fell through, he's back to being a child requiring constant supervision and protection from himself.

It's insane, and I'm pretty sure even Steve knows it doesn't make sense. It does, however, make it easier for Steve to maintain total control, and that's what matters to him.

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YPestis
I think they're neither. I think they're controlling.

Most adults I know (early 20s - might change later) are closer with their siblings than with their best friends. I think that's nice, and perfectly natural. But yes, it shouldn't be enforced.

I actually do think own bedrooms are "risky" (especially if there are computers in there) but as you say, the thing is teaching personal responsibility etc. not preventing own-bedrooms.

Are they even allowed doors on their bedrooms?

My personal experience is that, once siblings marry and have kids of their own, their priorities may shift. My mom is quite close to her siblings but she is closer to me now than to her siblings. My father, also close to some of his siblings, have seen some drift towards their spouses and own children as they age. Once people have their own children and grandchildren, they may not see siblings as the closest or most intimate people in their lives anymore. Some will maintain closeness for life, others may find intimacy with friends or children.

I don't believe having a bedroom is risky in of itself. A child can still keep secrets even when sharing a room. A child with a bedroom can still be open to his parents. What's more important is maintaining daily contact with children, and knowing who they hang out with, what their interests are, and where they go. I believe it's far riskier if parents let kids skip dinners with them every night than it is to let them have their own rooms. The Maxwells seem to believe any risk, however small must be nipped. Yes, bedrooms can hide stuff. Then again, so can cars and clothes and safety deposit boxes. That doesn't mean we don't have those items. I shake my head at this level of control to maintain this air tight seal on the Maxwell kids.

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Kitty

My younger sister and I would never make it to 30 if we shared a room for that long. We get along far better now that we're both on our own. When we were living in the same CITY it was World War III! Our parents would have way bigger problems than us sneaking around if they made us share a room. Which, by the way, we haven't done in over a decade.

Also, it's hilarious how Teri assumes that her kids can't possibly hide anything in their bedrooms. Unless she and Steve search through drawers, closets, bedding, etc. I have a feeling they don't, given how they think simply sharing a room means no way to hide anything. I wouldn't put it past them either, but I just don't think they do.

I think I just gave them ideas :(

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fundiefan

My only sister and I have gone through phases our whole lives. When we were both living at home - sharing a room - we hated each other. We didn't even try to understand each other; we just bitched all the time. When things at home went to shit, we moved out together, her at 17 and me at 16. We were each other's life source and best friend. Around 20 or so, she met a man and became absorbed in him and we didn't talk for several years. Mid-twenties, she had my oldest niece and we became sisters. When I got married, we became each other's best friend, with our husbands doing the same. When I got divorced, there was more distance between us than could be measured. Now, in our mid-forties, we're working on things and making effort.

All that to say - we were never forced to be each other's best friend, although we have done just that. We are two human beings with our own identities and we have ups and downs and phases and issues. All of it, good and bad, we choose. No one else does. Our mom 'deals' with whatever our relationship is; she encourages it when it's good and stands back when it isn't. She leaves it up to us because, after all, it is US.

How can anyone sincerely say their sibling is their 'best friend' or that they choose to spend time with their siblings alone...when they have no other experience? Not other option or choice? They can't even decided that today, their sibling pisses them off and they don't want to talk...just for today.

That's not even sheltering. That is total and complete control.

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Just_Jane

My sister and I are not friends. We aren't enemies either. We just don't have anything in common and we have little to talk about with each other. We were never close growing up either. I used to feel sad about it and then I realized one day that if she wasn't my sister that our paths wouldn't have crossed anyway. She's very religious and I am not. My interests are more crafty artistic and her interests are musical. She's going one way and I am going another. I still care about her and care about her well being.

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luckystone

My personal experience is that, once siblings marry and have kids of their own, their priorities may shift. My mom is quite close to her siblings but she is closer to me now than to her siblings. My father, also close to some of his siblings, have seen some drift towards their spouses and own children as they age. Once people have their own children and grandchildren, they may not see siblings as the closest or most intimate people in their lives anymore. Some will maintain closeness for life, others may find intimacy with friends or children.

I don't believe having a bedroom is risky in of itself. A child can still keep secrets even when sharing a room. A child with a bedroom can still be open to his parents. What's more important is maintaining daily contact with children, and knowing who they hang out with, what their interests are, and where they go. I believe it's far riskier if parents let kids skip dinners with them every night than it is to let them have their own rooms. The Maxwells seem to believe any risk, however small must be nipped. Yes, bedrooms can hide stuff. Then again, so can cars and clothes and safety deposit boxes. That doesn't mean we don't have those items. I shake my head at this level of control to maintain this air tight seal on the Maxwell kids.

Yes, that's true, if you have adults kids you might be closer with them - although I've noticed strong sibling relationships last through partnerings and kids etc and I also know an awful lots of people who turned to their siblings for divorce support, even if they were less close before hand! In some families it does have a close bond which is great.

I mean own bedroom is risky in the sense any time they are not in your view and on their own is risky. so it's the same if you go out and leave them in the living room or whatever. But that's a pretty broad level of risk that you have to come to terms with.

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marmalade

Having a room of one's own (sorry, the Lit geek couldn't resist quoting Woolf, especially HERE) is not mutually exclusive to issues with computer use, phone use, etc. as Teri implies they might be abused. I went to college late in life and watched kids show the stuff on their phones with their FRIENDS! The Max girls could still do this, but something tells me that all iphones are confiscated by God...errrr....Steve...when they head upstairs to sleep after their evening devotionals. My best guess is that the timer is set for those to conclude at 8:00 SHARP.

I bet those conferences when they have to stay up past their bedtime are hell on them, but "tests to the spirit" (in my best Steve posting "voice").

OT: Showers are, of course, rotated, except for God and Wife, who certainly have their own bathing quarters. Dog help Mary, who really needs to wash and condition her hair daily; it looks like shit. Poor Mary has adolescent hair; oily at the roots, dry on the ends. Sarah may have chopped off a lot of hair, but her hair is also oily and should be washed daily instead of combed out. I still sort of have that hair (I am trying to skip a day of If washing, but I'm almost 20 years older years than Sarah), but I can't leave the house that way, except for a quick run to the store. If I wash every day, I now need to condition, which I never had do even 2 or 3 years ago.

Those women are apparently "working" Teri's hair care regimen, since in Maxhell, One Size Fits All, even if it doesn't. Anna's hair is an especially hot mess (a lot like young Teri, but I bet Teri took better care of her friz).

I hate the dorms, but the uniformity beyond that is even more disturbing.

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Guest Anonymous

I honestly don't see anything wrong with the Maxwell women's hair. Don't get the criticism of something so.... not an issue.

Back to the OP: I think both Teri and Steve are controlling fucks, in their own ways. Steve abused and brainwashed Teri when she was at her most vulnerable, after years of back pain and depression. And Teri replaced control over her own life with obsessive minute-by-minute scheduling of her children, right from babyhood.

While reports from the blog only ever show sweetly smiling sisters, I wouldn't be surprised if Sarah is also exercising her own control over her younger siblings. All that disappointment and bad feeling has to be chaneled somewhere...

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ILoveJellybeans

My sister and I shared a room from her being old enough to sleep through the night. We dont get on well at all. I think I would like her better if we had our own rooms and space away from eachother.

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Jana814

So glad some posted this. I was going to, will write more later.

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Justme

Even if they each had their own room, what on earth would/could they "do" that would be so "bad"? They have no TV, magazines, newspapers, books (other than their own or the bible), radio. The only possible contact they have with the outside world is on the internet and smartphone. The computers can be kept in a mainliving space, not in a bedroom. The phones can be left in the kitchen at night.

Those "kids" are going nowhere fast. It took Chris 10 years to find a wife. Nate found one before they plunged to far over the cliff. The "girls" will never find a guy that Steve approves of, thus, never marry. The reversal "boys" are going to have a hard time as well. The family has build a reputation of being extreme even in the fundie world. I would be shocked if we see another Maxwell wedding in the next few years.

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Arete

I shared a room with a sister. We actually maintained it as a parent-free space. No kidding, my father did not go in unless he knocked and received verbal permission. We had some serious smackdown fights in that room, the one time my dad choose to open the door to interfere we both stopped mid fight, turned around, and said "Stay out of this!" We also blasted the record player, the boombox, and not to mention taught ourselves how to dress and walk in heels so we could be suitable hussies at our various proms. We kept the "Our Bodies, Ourselves" copy in that bedroom as well. How's that for keeping his children's hearts Steve?

When my sibs got married, I had been taught to accept their focus would change to spouses and children, and it DID. As it should have. But that was OK, because I had a whole network of friends I had developed through the years and school, work, etc. I'm lucky we are still close, but their worlds revolve around their own families on the day to day, and I'm lucky that with the one that lives in proximity, I'm along for the ride a few times a month.

The Maxwell girls had no choice, their room is used so their siblings can better spy on them, Steve and Terri are not naive, they know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it. It's a multi-bed prison cell, not the room of sisters who choose to share or have to do to housing constraints. Marmalade is right, their uniformity belongs in a prison, not a family.

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Marian the Librarian

Neither - I think Steve and Teri are mentally ill. Extreme religious scrupulosity is a form of OCD. From the Wikipedia definition:

Scrupulosity is a psychological disorder characterized by pathological guilt about moral or religious issues. It is personally distressing, objectively dysfunctional, and often accompanied by significant impairment in social functioning.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrupulosity

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Guest Anonymous

Pa and Ma Maxwell are neither simple nor naive. They know exactly what they've done: turned their home into a stalag. Actually, the kids would be better off if it WAS a stalag. They would then feel obliged, as captive officers did, to plot their escape.

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MrsYoungie
Neither - I think Steve and Teri are mentally ill. Extreme religious scrupulosity is a form of OCD. From the Wikipedia definition:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrupulosity

I think this disorder applies to most of the families we discuss here. Not the least of them - the Duggars.

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August

YPestis (plague, eh?), I think temptation is a euphemisim for the sorts of things a teenaged boy does when he has his own room. And we know how much the fundies hate that! Far better to give him a barely literate cloistered teenaged girl to sate his desires on and a passel of spawn to support before they get any ideas about education or freedom.

I also think the Maxwell children have no choice but to be close, there's no one else. My children build friendships through spending all day with friends at school, they're not really close with my kids friends who they see a few hours a month.

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Guest Anonymous
Neither - I think Steve and Teri are mentally ill. Extreme religious scrupulosity is a form of OCD. From the Wikipedia definition:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrupulosity

I don't read that and think of Steve, tbh. He doesn't match the typical profile of someone with OCD. His beliefs and behaviours do not seem to be impulsive/compulsive: they are studied, considered and are the product of years of gradual change. He is able to go about a reasonably normal life and take part in all sorts of ordinary activities and he is confident to share his ideas with others. He is the King of his own world; it is the others who are screwed up and controlled by his behaviour.

I do think he has some very dark stuff going on in his mind, just not OCD.

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ILoveJellybeans
Even if they each had their own room, what on earth would/could they "do" that would be so "bad"? They have no TV, magazines, newspapers, books (other than their own or the bible), radio. The only possible contact they have with the outside world is on the internet and smartphone. The computers can be kept in a mainliving space, not in a bedroom. The phones can be left in the kitchen at night.

Those "kids" are going nowhere fast. It took Chris 10 years to find a wife. Nate found one before they plunged to far over the cliff. The "girls" will never find a guy that Steve approves of, thus, never marry. The reversal "boys" are going to have a hard time as well. The family has build a reputation of being extreme even in the fundie world. I would be shocked if we see another Maxwell wedding in the next few years.

Masturbate, obviously.

But I imagine that most of them who dont feel too guilty already have, they just wait til their siblings are asleep.

I dont think Steve has OCD, I think he just wants to control. I think hes some sort of sociopath, I have heard they make good cult leaders, and he is a leader of a cult. Also someone on here who met him says that he reminded them of a serial killer.

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gardenvarietycitizen
YPestis (plague, eh?), I think temptation is a euphemisim for the sorts of things a teenaged boy does when he has his own room. And we know how much the fundies hate that! Far better to give him a barely literate cloistered teenaged girl to sate his desires on and a passel of spawn to support before they get any ideas about education or freedom.

Teenaged girls can do those sorts of things too... :) Even if you share sleeping space from day 1 just because that's the sort of tiny apartment your family lives in, you can still manage!!! You learn to be quiet. That's the part that seems naive to me. Human desires are human desires, having a room doesn't mean you'll be depraved and sharing a room will not prevent the occasional wank. Though maybe the Maxwells also don't approve of their kids taking "naps" midday, kinda like prison...

100% agreed that the contrast between "oh Joseph is ready to take on a wife and lead a household" and "oh wait, that didn't work out? Well then he has to be supervised 24/7 and can't even live in his own house" is pure bizarro-land.

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tressea

The infantilization of all of the Maxwell offspring is incredibly disturbing. I, too am a year older than Sarah, but I'm married and have children. She is a year younger than me and is still sharing a room with her little sisters, subject to the micromanagement of her parents, and (I'm sure) has a list of chores she has to complete around the house. Even before I was married, I lived on my own for several years and was able to do so *gasp* without falling into temptation, shooting heroin into my eyeballs, and joining a group of devil worshipers. Why? Because my parents raised me well and had enough faith in their own parenting to trust that I was fully capable of being an independent adult without someone breathing down my neck and "protecting" me worldly influences.

The Maxwells are so righteous and certain about their parenting styles, but the way that they parent their unmarried, adult children belies a profound mistrust in the internal strength, fortitude, and faith of their own children.

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Just_Jane

That's it! They lack faith in their own skills as parents and in their own kids to have their own moral compass. How can they be so untrustworthy of being functioning adults one day and then married the next and sent out on their own? I don't get that.

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