Shelley Terry: It's the job of mothers to nag and interfere

Shelley Terry

You won’t believe it.

In a span of just two days, my children told me that they are adults and they don’t need my “interference” or “nagging.”

Totally out of the blue and both charges are ridiculous, of course.

It started last Saturday, when Dear Daughter was in town for her grandfather’s wedding. She went out on my front porch and started smoking. 

“Are you smoking again?” I said, in an irritated tone.

“Mother, I’m 43,” she said. 

“So? What’s your point?” I said.

“I’m an adult and I can smoke if I want,” she said.

I said, “I just don’t want you dying before me. If you do, I’ll be really mad at you.”

She laughed.

Then I showed her a study I have been saving just for times like this. 

Southern Living magazine looked at the lives of 15,500 girls between the ages of 13 and 14 over the course of six years. The researchers found that the young women with nagging parents (usually, moms) that stayed on top of them about chores, school work and family responsibilities found more success in life.

“See!” I said.

“Don’t nag me,” she said, flicking an ash away.


Then on Monday, I was online reading the newspaper where my career started, “The Herald,” in Rock Hill, S.C., when I saw an advertisement for a new attorney in town.

It was Handsome Son’s best friend from his school days. (We moved to Florida at the end of my son’s freshman year of high school.)

I just knew Handsome Son would be interested in what became of his best buddy.

I emailed Best Buddy, hoping he’s well and congratulating him on his career. I told him about Handsome Son and Lovely Daughter-in-Law living in Copenhagen, etc.

Soon after, I received an email back from Best Buddy. He said he was delighted to hear from me and told me to feel free to pass on his contact information to my son.

So, I emailed Handsome Son the information at 11:05 a.m. Monday.

At 11:06 a.m., Handsome Son called me.

I’m thinking, “He’s so excited and appreciative of my efforts that he had to call me right away.”



“Mom, I’m an adult. I’m almost 42 years old and if I want to reconnect with someone I knew years ago in elementary school, I’d find them on the internet,” he said. “I don’t need your help.” 

I was flabbergasted.

Was this kid actually reprimanding ME? 

I said, “I’m the parent and you don’t scold me. I scold you! And, you should be happy. I am always happy to reconnect with old friends.”

“I’m not you,” he said. “Don’t do that.”

There was no arguing with him. He’s stubborn like his father. 

(Note to faithful readers: When you are upset with a child’s behavior, blame it on the other parent.)


Thank goodness, I still have Delightful Granddaughter on my side. 


Staff writer Shelley Terry likes this famous quote from Sam Levenson: “The reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they have a common enemy.”

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