Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Parental Relations

Jeff is in his room, lying on his bed, and listening to his Walkman while he studies. His room is a mess. His mom enters, takes one look at the room, and almost passes out.

MOM: Jeff!

He doesn't hear her because of his Walkman.

MOM: Jeff!

Still no response. She walks up to him, grabs his headphones, and shouts in his ear.

MOM: JEFF!!!!

Jeff comes to life.

JEFF: Oww! Geez! What? What do you want?

MOM: I want you to clean up this room.

JEFF: I'll do it later.

MOM: I want you to do it now!

JEFF: I said, I'll do it later. I have homework.

MOM: You can do that later.

JEFF: No, I can't.

MOM: Yes, you can.

JEFF: No, I can't.

MOM: Why must you make things so difficult?

JEFF: Why must you boss me around like I'm your pet monkey?

MOM: Because you never do anything around here!

JEFF: That's because there's never anything to do!

MOM: I just asked you to clean your room!

JEFF: I just gave you my answer: NO!

MOM: What is the matter with you, Jeffy? You come home and lock yourself in your room, turn your stereo up loud, and just lay on your bed. I hardly see you at all. Is something the matter?

JEFF: No.

MOM: Then why this change? I mean, you used to say "Hi" every now and then.

JEFF: Hi.

MOM: Is something bothering you?

JEFF: No.

MOM: Hm. Hun, I know mommies usually don't ask this question, but... are you gay? I mean, if you are it's ok. I may not like it at first, but I....

JEFF: What the hell are you talking about?! Of course I'm not gay! I have a girlfriend, and her name is Jessica, not George!

MOM: I know, I know. Well, um, are you guys having problems?

JEFF: No.

MOM: Are you having sex?

JEFF: Mom!

MOM: What? It's a perfectly honest question

JEFF: Yes, but not one I'd discuss with you!

MOM: So you are having sex?

JEFF: Mom! Get off it!

MOM: Is it safe sex?

JEFF: Will you just shut up! No, I'm not having sex with her, and if I was, I would not discuss it with my mother!

MOM: Don' talk to me like that. All I'm trying to do is figure out what is wrong with my son and all you've done is....

JEFF: For the last time, nothing is wrong.

MOM: Well, I need to talk to you. Your math teacher called yesterday--said your grade in the class went from an "A" to a "C" in less than a week and a half. Now, your father and I have been saving a college fund for you since we got married, and we're not about to throw all that money away if you don't get into a good college. What happened?

JEFF: Nothing.

MOM: Are you having problems in school?

JEFF: No.

MOM: Then what happened?

JEFF: Will you just get out of here and leave me alone?

MOM: Listen. You just better make sure that you get into a good school. None of this junior college stuff. We want you in a real school. You're not going to get anywhere if your grades are slipping like this.

JEFF: Just get out of here!

Mom exits.

Happy Ending

JEFF: For the last time, nothing is wrong.

MOM: Well, I need to talk to you. Your math teacher called yesterday--said your grade in the class went from an "A" to a "C" in less than a week and a half. Now, your father and I have been saving a college fund for you since we got married, and we're not about to throw all that money away if you don't get into a good college. What happened?

JEFF: I don't know. I just think I lost interest, ya know? I hate math.

MOM: I understand. I did too when I was your age. Do you need help? Like a tutor or something?

JEFF: No, I think I'll be okay.

MOM: You sure?

JEFF: Yes, mom.

MOM: I'm sorry I yelled at you and asked you all those questions. I'm just worried, you know? I want you to get into a good school, get good grade....

JEFF: And I will. Just give me a chance.

MOM: I will. You know, if you ever need anything, you can always come to me.

JEFF: I know.

They hug

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