Hey kid! Guess what... adults have rules too!
Fighting with a 13-year-old over why he can't take his Kindle to school is like arguing with my cat about why he shouldn't throw up on my rug... it's senseless.
"YES! I know it sucks! And I know it's early... and I know you love to read. But you've been breaking the rules too much lately, so until you can prove you can handle this basic task again... you will require support. And sometimes, that support is unpleasant."
Parent Nation has become so hell bent on raising emotionally pampered kids who don't have to succumb to the misery of "rules" and "disappointment," that I'm convinced, by 2020, this country will be a giant hippie commune where everyone sleeps until noon, doesn't have to perform manual labor, can take breaks every 14 minutes and only eats mac 'n' cheese and chicken nuggets... all according to their "Happiness Quota".
Since when did we decide that "rules" don't apply anymore? Why are parents so afraid to allow the "administration" to make decisions that we as parents and kids must follow? As adults, we have rules. They're called laws, policies and procedures. We have very specific rules on how we must file our taxes or else we are penalized. Try telling the IRS you have an "empowerment plan" in place that gives you extra time to file... it won't work, trust me. We have rules we must follow in public or we can be arrested. What do you think would happen if you told the store owner you just robbed that your mom said you "can have anything you want in life" and no one is the boss of you!?
Rules and boundaries are the things that separate us from poop flinging baboons (although if you spend a lot of time online... you may find it harder to distinguish between the two.)
Then, why are parents so afraid to be honest with themselves and their children today? Why is it so difficult to say things like, "that is wrong and you cannot do it that way," or "you must do the work simply because your teacher told you too," or "I understand you don't like it, but it's the rule." Or, heaven forbid, "You are being punished because you disobeyed the rules."
Look, I am the opposite of an authoritarian or helicopter parent. I am what I like to call a realist. And when it comes to kids, life and rules... I believe it's time to stop hiding behind all the mamby pamby excuses and start teaching our kids the value of limits. Far, far too many parents today are teaching their children that the world is their playground, they can have it all with no consequences and the rules don't apply to them.
And that's unfortunate... because for the majority of the self-providing population, those statements are simply not true. Successful grown ups know that for the vast majority of us, we do have a time to get up each day, even if we are still tired. We must introduce new lessons into our life if we're going to learn anything, and sometimes those lessons look a lot like failures. And rules are a never ending, unavoidable part of life.
As parents, it's expected that we want our child(ren) to succeed. But if we really want to help create that path to success, we must be willing to set some rules, stick to them and if our kiddos break them... allow them to realize the consequences.
It's like I said to my son this morning during that fight over the Kindle:
"Yes, I know you read 65 books a year."
"Yes, you did get 100 percent on the pop quiz even though you read through the whole class."
"I am aware that studies show your book bag is too heavy and you need 'quiet time'"...blah blah blah. The rule is "No Kindles in School"...end of story. Go catch the bus! OH! And make sure you take a paperback book so you can read during lunch detention. And have a great day! I love you... enough to make you follow the rules."
Follow Tara Kennedy-Kline on Twitter: www.twitter.com/tkennedykline