Not to take away from your moment of glory, but before your teen had that title it belonged to my child. I think I may know a little about what your life will be like as part of your teen’s official third-tier entourage. Third-tier, meaning you won’t be part of the inner circle, or even a part of the groupies that are inexplicably attracted to your child. No, you are the part of the support circle; as in – “where’s my dinner”; “I need the car tonight”; and “Bye Mom. I took $50 out of your purse.”
The first thing that you will have to adjust to is that rules don’t apply to your child who is now the center of the universe. Former rules, such as chores before fun, good grades before driving privileges, and curfew, no longer exist. You may, however, find a completely new set of rules. Rules like: a cell phone is an inalienable right; who I am going to the movies with is none of your business; you must respect my privacy at all times; and, the biggest rule of all, you may not do anything that would embarrass me in front of my friends.
When Your Son (or Daughter) Goes Supernova
A supernova explosion will eventually occur if you begin placing “unrealistic” demands on your child, such as graduating from high school or obeying drug and alcohol laws. It is made worse when these rules are enforced by a judge or court of law. The supernova eventually contracts into a black hole that sucks everything around it into its dark world. Everything in your world will become secondary to overcoming the gravity of the situation.
Sometimes, trouble with the law or school will turn a child around. Instinctively, he’ll begin to realize his place in the cosmos. Surprisingly, a few don’t make that connection. These children need an experience that will help them see the world as it really is. They need a place away from the false reality that has put them at the top of the food chain.
You Can’t Fool Mother Nature
Many programs seek to help youngsters in trouble by establishing strict authority in an austere environment, like a boot camp. For many teens, this is just reinforcing their distrust in individuals or people who hold themselves up as an authority based on strength, power, or position. A more holistic and intuitive approach is to let the natural order of things dictate behavior. For instance, you can build a shelter on a cloudy night; or, if you don’t, you get wet.
When a child realizes that the rules set by those who love them aren’t there for a capricious desire to control but to protect, he begins to see things differently. Consequences aren’t manufactured to torment; they just are. This approach has made Redcliff Ascent one of the most effective troubled teen programs in the US. Here, children begin to trust in themselves and realize that their parents and leaders are there as guides to protect them from the storms of life.
After a while, your child will realize that he or she is not the center of the universe but an important part of the constellation that makes up your family. They may even realize that it is much better this way.
- YongSIC. “Car key”. January 5, 2012. Online image. Flickr. February 21, 2013.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Claire Smith is a blogger and a mom who knows about the challenges of parenting. She hopes that her articles will help other parents who are having difficulties in raising their kids.