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Parenting Is Not A Walk In The Park

LongIsland.com

Parents and teachers are screaming that there are not enough resources to support them in their efforts to empower their children and students to grow and become positive members of society.
Unfortunately that ...

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Parents and teachers are screaming that there are not enough resources to support them in their efforts to empower their children and students to grow and become positive members of society.


Unfortunately that concern is critical. Resources are few and far between. Too often we seem to be at cross-purposes with each other instead of in concert, working together for the common good.


A growing number of teenagers feel that they should be free to come and go as they please. They feel the rite to teenage hood is the right to freedom on demand. This freedom that they seek is one without responsibility and accountability.


Sadly enough, a growing number of parents feel compelled to tolerate this teenage lifestyle, which too often is reckless and out of control. Clearly, the teenager of today should be afforded additional freedoms. However, like anything of value, it should be worked for and earned. I don't think it is an inalienable right, guaranteed by the constitution that comes with puberty.


Too many parents are selling out. Parenting is hard. It is not a walk in the park. It can be overly stressful if we are unclear with our expectations and inconsistent with our rules and boundaries.
Needless to say, communication and calling our teenagers to task is key. It is lethal if dialogue is absent and accountability is inconsistent or missing. If your son or daughter is non-compliant, there must be reasonable, but enforceable
consequences for their poor decision-making. Our "kids" need to get the clear message for every choice they make, there is a consequence.


When we elect to abdicate parental responsibility, whatever our excuse, we set our teenager up for failure. That benign neglect will probably contribute to our son or daughter's getting into more serious trouble that we will not be able to rescue him or her from.


JR is sixteen. He is the second child of four in an intact, upper middle class family. Materially, as a family, they have everything. The oldest son is away at school. JR is out of control. The two younger children, a boy and a girl, are sitting on the edge of their seats, intently watching everything their parents are doing regarding JR's out of control behavior.


The communication system in this household is a disaster. Mom and Dad don't communicate about their children and their problems. Dad has a short fuse and tends to fly off the handle over any negative behavior. Thus, Mom spares Dad the whole truth about the kids on a regular basis. The family secrets are endless. JR knows this about his mother and works this dysfunctional system to the limit.


By age fifteen, JR was cutting school regularly, smoking and dealing pot and drinking on the weekends. Each time he was confronted about his behavior, he minimized it. His classic line was "I have no problems. I am just like any other kid my age."


Mom continued to cover up for JR. Unfortunately, he was arrested and wound up in the Family Court system. This time he made a major mistake. He aggravated his judge. That arrogance almost got him sent upstate. The judge read him the riot act. JR still did not learn his lesson. He continued to be non-compliant and persisted in pushing everyone to the limit.


As a last resort to keep him from being sent upstate, JR's attorney worked out a deal for him to live in a group home. The conditions were that he be drug free and comply with all of the rules of the residence. He swore he would be a model resident.


Within the first month he was almost dismissed for non-compliance and drug use. After a severe consequence, he finally straightened out, at least temporarily.
His parents were non-cooperative with family counseling. Thus the family dysfunction continued, with Dad enabling his son and Mom making excuses. JR continued to smoke screen the Probation Department and cut corners.


Finally, he had to make a major decision regarding his education. A very carefully thought out plan was put into place. JR agreed with the plan and its rationale, even though it was a little tough.
For a few months, JR was a model resident. His schoolwork was excellent and his social behavior was very compliant.


Probation decided to commute his sentence. As soon as JR was released from probation, he immediately aborted his agreed upon
plan. When his father was confronted about enabling his son's destruction, he made a million and one excuses.


JR moved home nine months early, with no support for this decision. None of the transitional steps that usually take place were addressed. By the second week home, he was cutting class and getting involved in social behaviors that could easily result in his arrest.


All the hard work that was done was undone in less than a week. JR has already been forced from his house. He has returned, but the cycle of poor choices and reckless behavior continues.


JR has all the potential of becoming a very successful, contributing member of society. Unfortunately, the partnership that was once in place to empower JR to wellness has been destroyed by parental ineptness. Presently, he is on the road to disaster. Unconsciously, he is making reckless decisions that could ruin his life forever.


Where are his parents now? What will they do when they cannot rescue him from the consequences of his actions and he winds up in jail or even worse, hurts someone forever?


Parenting is a complex and difficult enterprise. If we are not going to take it seriously, then we should not attempt to parent!