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This summer many parents were bewildered about why their children preferred to spend their vacations with strangers instead of their own flesh and blood.

Carolyn List Ehler said while we were standing in the supermarket line the other day, "I don't understand it. We raised them from babies, sat up nights worrying about them, sacrificed our pensions to put them through college, and they don't want to spend a weekend with us."A young girl standing behind us heard the conversation and said, "What you don't understand is that the reason kids prefer to go to their friends' vacation places is they know they will be treated so much better there than they will be at home. They don't get bawled out."

Carolyn became upset. "I don't give my children flak when they come home. I bake brownies for them and let them sleep until 11 o'clock."

The young lady said, "And you don't tell them what they should be doing with their lives?"

"Every parent tells children what they should be doing with their life."

"And you don't ever bring up the subject of grades, and how nice it would be if they made their beds and didn't leave all the dirty dishes in the sink?"

"Maybe, but what's the big deal about that?"

"Nothing, except I'm staying with my friend Sophie and her mother doesn't say a word to me when I come down to breakfast after getting home at 3 a.m."

Carolyn said, "I can see why you like it better at Sophie's, but after all the pain and agony parents should have some visiting rights to a daughter before she goes back to school."

The girl said, "Parents don't have rights - they have privileges. It is your privilege to pack her up for school, make sure she has enough new clothes, check her bank account and, if you are lucky, get her to stay home on her last night instead of spending it with the gang."

I didn't want to get into it, but I suggested to Carolyn, "Why don't you invite some strangers to stay with you and get from your guests all the nourishment you were hoping to get from your daughter?"

She turned to the young girl in line and said, "How would you like to be our guest for Labor Day?"

"I'd love to, but I already promised to stay with the Bramhalls while their daughter is visiting her best friend Sarah Newman in Jackson Hole."