Shift Happens

Musings on the mind and the perennial capacity for change

Quit Giving Your Kids a "Hall Pass" Through Life

We need to set conditions that our children must follow.We are too easy on them.

With the growing difficulty of teenagers who ignore school, their parents, their obligations and think they can just pass on by, it is time for parents to take a look at what is happening here.  We are giving our kids a “hall pass.”  In our quest to have them love us – or at least pretend to, we are ignoring the need to play tough and get them to understand that they have obligations and responsible roles to play in school and the family.

 Answer honestly as you are the only one in the room.  How many of you ignore a poor grade and still give your kids the keys to the car so they can go hand with friends instead of study?  How many of you catch your kids lying to you about whether or not they really did talk to the teacher about some extra help?  How many of you worry so much about them being socially liked that you will forgo a needed punishment to be sure they can attend a party or be with their friends?  Let’s talk about drugs for a moment.  How many of your kids smoke dope?  How many of you demand that they stop and put a consequence to that?  You’d be surprised at how parents lose a blind eye to what they believe is just the way it is right now.  .  How many of you let your kids just leave the dinner table or not even show.  This is the time that traditionally families were to share their day and their issues.  The real question is, how many of you really know your kids? 

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Why are we trying so hard to manufacture ways to win the love of our children when we do not have their respect. They lie to us, they do not meet their obligations, the ignore us, they go into their room for hours at a time just texting away and we do nothing.  Rather than start a disagreement, we have stopped setting rules for our kids, stopped paying attention to their grades, stopped giving them simples tasks at home, allowed a total mess in their room and in their lives. And permitted texting as the only process by which they communicate, we have stopped actually talking to our children. We have fallen into that parental exhaustion trap that has stopped us from getting up the energy to guide out children by being kinder and gentler, but not by being specific in our expectations and tougher in our demands.  Does this mean we don’t love our children?  It means we probably love them more in our concern that they become better people, responsible people, decent students, and that they learned to love their own parents unconditionally because they know we are there to help not hurt the growing up process,

Giving your kids a hall-pass and giving up on what you expect from them are not the tools that are going to take them strongly into the future.  They are playing you and it is time for that to stop. 

Susan Winston, LMFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a television producer and writer in Los Angeles.

 

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