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Parenting Is Serious Business

Summer vacation should not be equated with a free-for-all. Unfortunately, a growing number of high school coeds believe summer vacation should initiate a two-month suspension of all social rules, social expectations and social accountability. In ...

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Summer vacation should not be equated with a free-for-all. Unfortunately, a growing number of high school coeds believe summer vacation should initiate a two-month suspension of all social rules, social expectations and social accountability. In short, high school students believe that they should be totally free to do what they want with no accountability.

The lazy days of summer should mark a shift in gears. School is over for at least two months. The days are longer, warmer and more relaxed. People in general take a more relaxed approach to life. However, it is not a time for reckless, irresponsibility and social mayhem.

It is not a time for sleeping your days away and burning the midnight oil till 3 or 4 in the morning. Summertime clearly can be more casual, but should not be a time of indifference and irresponsibility.

Parents should not be bullied into suspending all their social rules or be guilted into giving privileges without responsibility and accountability.

During the summer, we should expect our children to do their chores and even pitch in a little more around the house, since they will be around more.

Depending on your son or daughter's age, they should be expected to work at least a part time job, if for nothing more than the discipline of being self-reliant and responsible.

A curfew, although more flexible because school is out, should be in place. However, consistent late hours with no plans other than to hang out is potential trouble in the making.

Overnights are another parental concern. During the summertime, more and more high school students want to sleep out. Before saying yes, parents should be sure that designated sleep out homes are going to be supervised by adults.

As a parent, it is appropriate to clarify that your child will be sleeping at a home under adult supervision and to make sure the home is not just a cover for a wild all nighter either at the beach or at the home.

Too many parents allow their children to hold them hostage when it comes to curfews. Some of these teenagers threaten to run away and/or blatantly defy their parents. They make it clear that they will do as they please and convince their parents that there is not much they can do about it.

SC is just sixteen. He had a horrible junior year. He was asked to leave private school because he got busted for possession of pot. He was thrilled to return back to his district. Within a few weeks, he was cutting class and aligning himself with all the problem students in his grade.

Each time his mother confronted him about his questionable social choices, he would look back at her and tell her she did not know what she was talking about.

Right after Christmas, SC was arrested on campus for possession with the intent to sell. Due to that arrest, he was suspended from on campus instruction and was placed on home instruction.

When confronted about all this, he had a very arrogant attitude. Needless to say, according to him it was everyone else's fault. They had the problem, not him.

In this same window of time, this slender high school junior got into a fistfight with a senior. The senior boy's parents pressed charges against SC. He was arrested a second time and charged with assault. Initially, he showed no remorse. He continued to blame everyone else.

He went to court and the judge read him the riot act. He assured SC that if he did not shape up, he would send him upstate for eighteen months. Even with the threat of having to leave his home, when he left court, SC showed little remorse or concern that the judge would do as he said.

The judge reminded him that as long as he was living at home, his parents had the right and obligation to set reasonable rules and provide responsible and reasonable supervision, since he was a minor. He also underscored that it was expected that he would be compliant. Time will tell whether or not he is.

What SC leaves out regarding his story, where he makes you feel that he is the most abused child since Oliver Twist, is that his social behavior has been off the wall. Since his drug bust and fistfight, his parents' car has been "keyed" and their home broken into, in a neighborhood that has never had these problems.

The most recent confrontation around parental authority erupted when his parents informed him that they were taking his older brother to freshman college orientation. They would have to be away for an overnight. SC is just sixteen. Under the present circumstance, they could not even consider leaving him alone for the overnight.

SC has an aunt and uncle that he likes in the next town. His parents asked if they could have him over for the night. The parents indicated that SC just needed to sleep over and could be dropped off at work in the morning. They willingly agreed. SC's Mom said it was okay for him to be out. She shared with them his reasonable curfew, which they said was fine.

When SC's Mom informed him of these arrangements, he went ballistic. He told them flat out "no" he was not going. He went on to say that there would be no further discussion on the issue. He informed his Mom that he would find a place to stay for the overnight. At the moment, they are at an impasse.

His mother feels powerless. She probably could have approached this circumstance differently, but she has allowed her sixteen-year-old son to hold her hostage.

If she does not break his inappropriate approach to her parenting and if she does not assert her reasonable parental authority, SC is going to be running the family. Because of his immaturity and reckless decision-making, SC is going to put himself and everyone else in the family at risk.

Parenting is serious business and should not be taken lightly, especially during the lazy days of summer.