Fight For Your Right


I always knock before I walk into my sixteen-year-old daughter’s bedroom. Gender issues aside, I remember how my parents never allowed that courtesy, because, it was their roof and their rules, damn it. So, I got what I deserved when I entered a few days ago.

My sixteen-year-old daughter and I share a love of music, different types mind you, so we’re both usually wearing ear buds while singing or dancing to our favorite songs. Like her, I will play tunes on my computer, my iPod, or in the car and lose myself in the lyrics or guitar riffs. When the music is from my time as a teenager, memories will flood and I’ll become familiar with that time in my life I first heard the song or what was going on around me.

The door knob to my daughter’s room is always ice cold. I’m usually carrying towels or trash or cups so I dread the touch of the knob. When I see the door isn’t closed all the way I breathe easier. After I knocked twice, it occurred to me she had to be asleep or listening to her iPod. I ignored this realization and acted like a lame parent. I bumped open the door with a butt cheek and there she was, dancing and singing and enjoying whatever her ear buds were offering. Her look of surprise and disdain transported me.

Rainy days as a kid meant I had to stay inside. Sometimes friends came over, but since my house was almost a mile away from most of my pals, it meant I would be alone in my room. I don’t recall the edict, but I wasn’t allowed to lock my door. I don’t know if my parents thought I was taking the movie Scarface too seriously and running a cocaine ring out of my place or if they were jealous of my record and cassette collection but that was their mandate. When I was channeling my inner Diamond David Lee Roth or perfecting my air Jimmy Page, I’d go into my closet. Go ahead, make your jokes. Done?

The closet was tiny. My three daughters’ closets are of similar size to the one I performed in, so they don’t hang out in them. They just shove their junk in and go lock their velvet-roped bedroom doors. But my closet had to be a dancefloor, rock and roll stage, and an awards podium. My lame parents caught me, deep in fantasy, wonder and The Beastie Boys Licensed To Ill. My glares were dagger-filled.

I wanted to hug my daughter and tell her I was sorry. I knew how embarrassed and angry she felt to have me interrupt her Taylor Swift dance party. I cared about her stabby glower. It made me think long and hard about the kind of parent I really am versus the one I seem to not be. I’m lame and I need to yell over the knock. The immediate future of my oldest daughter’s life will be amazing for her imagination. Every teenager deserves their bedroom inner sanctum of fantasy, wonder and make-believe superstardom.

****blogger’s note****

This is a personal post designed for Write On Edge’s RememebeRED memoir:  

After I finished laughing, I started thinking. So often in our lives, defining moments occur when our past and our present or our future clash. For this week’s RemembeRED prompt, write a memoir post describing such a time and the results.

While writing, remember to bring us into the moment and let us experience it with you.

I’m going to be generous and give you 521 words.

Today’s song is what was playing in my bedroom, a lot, at age sixteen. My mom never took away my best prono mag but From’s The Beastie Boys’s 1986 debut album Licensed to Ill, here’s (You’ve Got To) Fight For Right (To Party)


84 thoughts on “Fight For Your Right

  1. I’m glad to see another parent who champions the right of teenagers to be themselves in private. As a child the judgement of my parents mattered more than anything. As a parent I’ve only barged in on my son once, after years of careful respect for his privacy I picked the worst possible moment to barge in.

    I’ve had other parents tell me that you shouldn’t allow your teenagers to have secrets or hiding places. As a former teenager and an adult who’s mom frequently drops by, I honestly feel that a certain amount of privacy is essential. Let’s face it, if your teenager is going to get up to things they shouldn’t they will find a way whether you grant them privacy or not. Why not allow them the chance to explore their personality and learn how to live large?

  2. It’s not often I can be compelled to comment via phone..but MY door was never locked (no doubt for justified reasons) and you should have seen MY poor father coming to terms with my teenage angst with suicidal tendencies you can’t bring me down…he was wishing for a lock to never let me leave the house again! Think your girls are lucky to have a Dad who can remember what was and respect what is…you rock! ( and not even a closet joke!) 🙂

  3. msbaldman

    In the field that I am in, I always wonder what kind of parent I will be. I have seen the worst of parenthood gone wrong and I was raised by what I consider to be the best. Although my privacy was often broken. It appears as though you go through these stages hoping to do better then who raised you. Trying to stick by what you promised you would never do. I love this post so much. And I can’t wait to have children of my own. I hope that my love for music and rock is passed down somehow.

  4. You are truly a brilliant father. I was fortunate that we lived in an older house with those huge crystal doorknobs and skeleton key locks, the keys to which were probably lost the year it was built. I had many funny moments, but I think my mom and step-dad were more horrified than I was. My response was always “If you don’t wanna see it, knock on the damn door first!” With my kids, I have always knocked. Kids deserve that kind of space and respect, just like anyone else. I did slip up once with my youngest not too long ago and saw something that scrubbing my eyes with vinegar won’t even fix. I certainly wasn’t surprised or shocked, I just really, really didn’t wanna see it.

    • oh good grief, deus, I cant imagine that. I assume I will NEVER see that. but, i know you, bobina, mr deus and i are equal as parents. that’s great to know.

  5. Carrie - Cannibalistic Nerd

    I must have been allowed to lock the door otherwise I’d have been in the closet like you. As someone who only dances by herself behind closed doors, I think it’s great that you give your daughters their space – it really is important.

  6. Josie1111

    Although I agree wholeheartedly that kids need a certain amount of privacy, in the end it is a luxury, especially if their behavior warrants a tighter rein. I’m saying this because I have witnessed parents who relinquished discipline for fear of losing their teen’s adoration. We all need our space and adolescents even more so at times. However, if they misuse their freedoms, losing the privilege of privacy is sometimes a necessity.

    • trust me, Josie, we keep up with, talk to, and take care of our daughter. We check on her facebook, we know her friends, and we keep up with her grades. But we just think her room is her little island of freedom. thanks for reading and commenting.

  7. Ha! I don’t remember if I ever really shut my door, but I know I didn’t have a lock. When I wanted privacy, my parents were pretty cool about it. However, I usually gave my concerts out on the front lawn with fake boobs stuffed in my leotard and a Barbie microphone, so I think they figured I couldn’t possibly be doing anything weirder in my room. As a teen, I was just as awkward. So sad…

  8. My parents were so cool. Clear rules, no bullshit, total respect if deserved. If I locked a door, it stayed locked. In return for their respect, I never broke my curfew, called home, and danced in front of everyone.

  9. Cynthia M

    I’m afraid I would have just gone in there and started dancing too. I’m probably lucky my daughter still loves me despite my lame mom moments.

  10. inmandyland2

    It’s odd, isn’t it? Being the adult and the parent rather than the child. Sometimes I still forget. Or maybe I’d just like to. 😉

  11. Galit Breen

    I love this reminder to parent the way we should and want to.

    (And the fact that you had “parent remorse” here? Says so very much about you!)

  12. You “wanted to hug my daughter and tell her I was sorry. I knew how embarrassed and angry she felt to have me interrupt her Taylor Swift dance party.” but you were too happy she wasn’t listening to that whore Katy Perry dreaming about waking up naked in Vegas with an extraterrestrial last Friday night.

  13. I’m having visions of the glares I will be receiving in my future. I’m sure I’ll earn my fair share, but I anticipate The Wife getting most of them from The Girl.

  14. TheKirCorner

    I couldn’t lock my door, the rug in my bedroom was too fuzzy and the door wouldn’t close, not all the way..but I danced anyway. My dad loved music (not mind , not all the time…) but a shared love of Disco (ROCK THE BOAT) would bring him in the room and we would dance together…and then my sister and little brother would find their way in too….between the yelling and bad times, there were good times…kitchen dance parties, and that is what I remember.

    and I love that you care enough to give your daughter that “Room to Move” 😉

  15. There’s so much respect here. Privacy is so paramount to young adults, and not only do you respect that need, you honor her imagination, her need to explore, safely.

    These words will linger for me, as I remember that my children are individuals, who deserve to be treated as such.

    • yep. I’ve stopped yelling so much and started listening and waiting more. Kids, especially older ones want their voice and their individuality respected.

  16. I just love this post. My parents were like yours. As a teen, I didn’t have rights. I used to push a chair up against the door just so I’d get some fair warning before it swung open.

    You’re a really cool dad, Lance, and a thoughtful one. Even the thoughtful ones mess up once in a while – I hope your daughter knows that.


  17. One of the things I always enjoy about your posts is the way the respect you have for your kids is always right there with the love. A lot of people have commented that you are a cool parent. I think you are smart one as well. I appreciate your comment that you have stopped yelling as much and started listening more—that feels right to me too in my experience with my son.

    When I treat him the way I would treat my friend, when I discuss with him the ways he has pleased or disappointed me in a calm, reasonable manner, we do better as a family.

    I like this post and the way it reveals so much about you, your daughter, and your family. Nothing overly emotional or manipulative, just honest—I respond to that tip e of writing. Nice job, Erin

  18. Great post! We are just entering the teenage years. It won’t be official until this summer, but it’s creeping up. I too am trying to figure out how not to be my parents. I love that you care that your daughter was mortified. I think it’s evident that you will respect her privacy and she will appreciate you for it!

  19. I don’t let my kids lock their doors, but I do knock whenever I go in to their rooms. Don’t be so hard on yourself, this won’t be the last dance party you interrupt. It comes with the parenting job. She knows you respect her privacy, you’ve made that clear. A few ‘oops’ moments are harmless, for both of you.

  20. I love the “stabby glower” haha. Oh yes it’s so horrible to be caught dancing your very heart and soul out by a skeptical (seemingly) parent. Poor daughter – just tell her about the closets! Great post.

  21. Also, I LOVE THE BEASTIE BOYS. This transports me to being 10 and getting my first boom box. This was our first tape. Oh good times, so much dancing in pajamas and jumping on the bed.

  22. mamamzungu

    My kids are still too young for this to be an issue, but I totally remember getting walked in doing something silly or walking into a house singing (who knows, it could have been the Beastie Boys) at the top of my lungs thinking no one was home. It’s something she’ll laugh about later (maybe even tweet about?). Obviously you respect her space and it was an accident. You do seem, like others point out, like a pretty cool dad!

  23. Man, it’s all good. She knows you, and this small blip in your otherwise good record will not be as important moving forward as you imagine, or as it was to her right in that moment. Kids appreciate this stuff, and really are willing to cut the ‘rents slack when it’s warranted. 🙂 I’m really glad you’re giving your kids their space, and I’m sorry you were stuck with your tiny (but apparently pretty damn rockin’) closet!

  24. midwestmomments

    Well done, sir, as always. I don’t remember if my parents knocked or not. They must have since I didn’t have a lock and I have no horrific memories of being surprised. My parents were very strict (in my mind at the time) and conservative, but they did let me have my own space.

  25. Gina

    I loved this because you took it in a different direction. I won’t lie. I laughed imagining a 16 year old boy dancing in his closet. You’re a great parent already for even understanding her need for privacy and “space”. Very much enjoyed this read.

    I wasn’t allowed to lock my door either since it was a plain old knob without one.

  26. Your love for your kids shines through.

    I have 5 kids ages 5-21 and I have made mistakes and I have done a lot right.

    I agree that kids should have their privacy. I also think that these days we make too many mountains out of molehills. If you treat your kids with respect, give them the security of living within rules of family and society and make sure they know how much you love them, so what if you walked in on them without knocking once or twice. It really shouldn’t have any long lasting damage.

    Our kids reactions have a lot to do with our reactions to an event as well.


  27. You know, there are just certain posts of yours that make me feel as if we’ve somehow been living our lives on the other side of the mirror from each other. Both of us with doors not locked…

  28. tara pohlkotte

    I love your respect for her. I always say that, even though my kids are only 5 and 3… they deserve my respect. “oh, but you’re the adult” . Of course, I’m aware of that…in fact, it is BECAUSE I’m an adult that I should be more respectful of them.

  29. I was never allowed to lock my door either and I remember the anger that I felt when one of my parents would barge right in to my space without knocking. I will never do that to my kids. My oldest is 11 and we have not yet reached the door locking stage but I’m sure it’s coming soon. Great post!

    • Hey Delilah, great name and welcome. My younger kids lock their doors. The oldest doesn’t, unless she’s dressing. I just want her to know her room’s safe unless i major league need somthing.

  30. Hhaha aww. My sister used to do that all the time and always tell me “DONT BOTHER ME UNLESS ITS AN EMERGENCY.” Til she got a lock on her door. Then when we knocked, she could never hear. Womp womp.

  31. origamibirds

    First of all, AWESOME prompt! I hate I missed this one. And you did so great with it, too. I just have to say that you sound like such an awesome Dad. I’m sure your teenager probably wasn’t happy with you in that moment, but the fact that you care about that and the fact that you want her to have her chances to dance and dream of stardom and listen to her music…well, that’s not something all kids have. It’s something they all SHOULD have, but it’s not something they all have. Your girls are lucky to have you.

  32. Great post. It’s hard for me to relate b/c my disabled mom couldn’t get to my room (long story) so I had plenty of privacy (too much). My son is only 5 so he hasn’t quite figured out his need for privacy. I can only hope that I will be as aware of his needs as you are of your daughter’s.

  33. You had a door?

    Ok, seriously, mine was NOT allowed to be locked, not sure why, but once my mother came in as i was, ahem, perusing the SI Swimsuit issue, she never came back . . . ever.

    Parents will eventually learn boundaries, or they will learn something else . . the truth.

  34. Oh yes. This is a tough one. We want the kids to have some freedoms but at the same time, we have to keep them safe. It is a delicate balance. If you have not seen the film Thirteen, you should.

    I had all of these ideas about how I was going to parent differently and do it better. Sadly, I am not better than my mom. But I will keep trying.

  35. license to ill – still on my ipod! i used to get down to madonna, WAY before i understood what any of the words meant, and my mom would just shake her head and go on her way. so glad you and your daughter share your love of music (if not sharing dance moves!).

  36. “stabby glower”
    What a perfect phrase. That so totally describes the expression she must have had on her face. My daughter has already given me many a stabby glower, and she’s not yet at a point where she wants me out of her room. I try to knock and I get, “MOM, just hurry up I needed you.” (Translation from Asperger’s: “I know you are coming to check on me because I’m late, but I’m stuck with my shirt impossibly half inside out not saying a word when I really want you to just barge in and rescue me). Someday, though, she will value the privacy.

    Little brother, though, is going to be another story.

  37. “They just shove their junk in and go lock their velvet-roped bedroom doors. But my closet had to be a dancefloor, rock and roll stage, and an awards podium. My lame parents caught me, deep in fantasy, wonder and The Beastie Boys Licensed To Ill. My glares were dagger-filled.” How I loved this.
    This paragraph and post brought me back to my own room of dancing and singing and carefree-ness.
    What a great, great post, Lance, and what a thoughtful, smart dad.

  38. Great post with so much in it…the determination to depart from how we were parented, the bewilderment over our parents fears, the glorious world of rock star fantasy-land, an homage to the power of music, and most of all, a beautiful tribute to your daughter.

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