(An excerpt from a recent conversation with my youngest daughter.)
ME: Hey M., Come here. We need to talk for a minute.
HER: What’s up Daddio?
ME: What is your text limit per month?
HER: You raised it to 900, remember?
ME: Yes, I remember. Take a guess what number you’re at now, even with over a week to go?
HER: Ummm…probably pretty high.
ME: Would 1292 sound right?
HER: Yeah, maybe.
ME: And what was the rule and consequence?
HER: Anything over 900 and I lose my phone.
HER: Your phone rules are stupid. I shouldn’t have to have stupid rules. I bet my friends don’t have any stupid text rules, but I know, you don’t care about my friend’s rules or what they do. You only care about what I do. (Mumbling as she walks away.) Stupid rules.
You might remember a similar conversation with my older daughter that was chronicled last year. Notice a little pattern here? I have touched on the topic of kids and rules in a few of my blog posts. As parents, we all trudge down this slippery slope when raising our kids. It’s never fun, nor easy, when trying to establish and enforce rules. Yet, setting guidelines and boundaries for our children to follow is critical in teaching these youngsters a little bit about life and how it all works. But the easy part is establishing the rules. Where it gets REALLY tricky is holding them accountable when the rules aren’t followed. I have learned this the hard way.
A few months ago, my oldest daughter decided she no longer wanted to live by my “stupid rules” and elected to go live with her mom on a (pretty much) full-time basis. Being that she is now 17, I really wasn’t able to put up much of an argument. So, off she went. To say it’s been rough on my youngest daughter and me since she has been gone might be the understatement of the decade. Family life as we knew it for the last 9 years literally changed overnight. There’s been a lot of tears, sadness, loneliness and soul-searching in our home.
As for my oldest daughter, how is she adjusting to this new world free of rules? (Not that mom’s house doesn’t have rules, they are just, ummm, different than what they are at my house.) Let’s just say we have seen some significant changes in her behavior and her world.
I will leave it at that.
Many of you might be wondering why I would want to share such a personal story with everyone. One, it’s reality and life. I would venture to say I am not the only parent who has struggled with teens and rules and disobedience. Secondly, I am neither ashamed nor embarrassed to talk about my parenting “faults” (as some would say).
As a parent, you always question yourself:
“Am I being too strict?”
“Are my rules really stupid?”
“What could I have done differently?”
These are just a few of the questions that constantly bounce through my head with our new living situation; the things that keep me awake many a night. However, I have reconciled in my own solace that the structured environment I created for my daughters was done to foster a climate that they (the kids) can develop, grow, learn, and most importantly, become fine young women within.
I’m not sorry for that.
So if you’re a parent with teens, or soon to be teens, be patient. Have confidence in your decisions. Know that you’re doing what is best for your kids. And most importantly, stay strong and have confidence in your decisions. You may experience some dissension and even some struggle. You won’t always be popular. You won’t always be their best friend. But one thing you will be? A PARENT. And that’s WAY more important than all the “stupid rules” anyway.