As you may know, we now have an official teenager in our home. Not the 13-year-old wanna be teen. Not the emerging effort teen. We have the full out hormones are making me weird and mindless teen. And no matter what you say, there are certain things I will not accept as normal for a teen.
This is a kid who was so good I used to say he needed a day where he had permission to just be bad all day. He was polite if not thoughtful. Sure Dad, yes Mom. And then, girlfriend, lockdown, and his demands to make his own decisions about his use of “his” phone (paid for by us) hit our house like a hurricane.
That way he would camp out on the sofa, rubbing his stinky head into my couch pillows and leaving his chaos and trash in his wake, was upsetting. So I came up with the dice jar and the driving carrot. That worked for about two weeks.
My husband lost it when, in one day, he spent 7-8 hours straight on the phone. And routinely would just forget any of the chores that we asked of him. The good student was now going to bed at 2 am and sneaking his phone up to his room when that was literally the only rule I had, no phones upstairs.
Two weeks ago, I had had it. His insolence, his arrogance, and his swearing off of the phone if he couldn’t use it the way he wanted. I said time to get a landline then. Pull it. I was unimpressed with all of it. He asked to write us an essay about what he was thinking. And I wrote a rebuttal.
“You are correct in saying that you are very responsible in many many ways. Perhaps I do not always see these actions or I take them as for granted as you take me. The respect and consideration that you think you deserve isn’t the same you exhibit.
Your privilege leaves a small wake of chaos behind you. Waste and messy spaces do not look like honor and respect of yourself, your home, or the people you share it with.
When you regularly forget chores, your disregard for how it affects others could be remedied if you were aware your choices always affect others.
The respect of our house and our rules while you live here is non-negotiable. We all have to follow the rules of the road and the world and this is us ensuring that you understand how we value teaching you this and keeping you safe. We will not ask your permission to parent you. We love you too much.
Your old friend Mom.”
When my husband and I spoke before we had a follow up discussion with our son, we both agreed that we stood strong on the phone rules. Rules is rules. When he begins to drive, there are rules that will save his life. We agreed that we did not need to ask permission to parent and bemused the old quote, “management has the right to make bad decisions”. But the phone and all it’s content and liabilities still were in our name.
But what I really wanted to stress was that I honored my job as Mom and keeper of the house. This was a job I took very seriously and his disregard for how hard I worked to make this house a home was very distressing and very disrespectful.
So to all those people who say, Oh that’s just a teenager, I say that he came to my house and he needs to live by my rules. Sometimes this behavior may be predictable but not necessarily acceptable. I will not be intimidated by glowering and sulking. I think these are just tests again to see if he’s important enough to rein in. And I think I can show him both he and I matter in resolving this situation.
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