Well, Janet, teen-dom is a whole set of special challenges, isn't it? in my opinion all teens are difficult children -- at least periodically, and some of them, CONSTANTLY! Lol...
My House Rules are short, sweet, and very, very simple. They are the same basic principles by which Mother raised us (and about a jillion foster kids) -- and Grandmother and Grandaddy set them up that way for their kids,too....Come to think, Mother's siblings all seem to have raised their own kids by those guidelines, sometimes in very adverse circumstances. Hmmm.... Which means, I suspect, that they have stood the test of time pretty darn well.
Although they may sound excessively simplistic to some, I'll explain a bit later why they have endured and why I still firmly believe that they gave me a better handle on Rotten Kid -- and my other two kids too -- than I may have otherwise had. (They also work really well, for the most part, with nephews and other assorted munchkins -- RIGHT PICO?? Lol...!)
Rule # 1: You will have nice manners. This means using courtesy in your dealings with other persons. Family members are included in that.
Rule #2: You will tell me the truth. No matter how appalling it is. Lying dishonors you and demeans the other person (see Rule #1).
Rule #3: You will not sulk or whine. It is beneath you; furthermore, it is the second tactic -- secondary only to lying -- that will absolutely guarantee a negative response to your current wishes, desires/expectations/demands.
***With all the above goes the general principle/overview, often reiterated: I am your parent. It is up to me (inherently part of the job description), to make certain that you are safe and healthy, and that you have the opportunity to grow and learn and receive the proper care; to reach your full strength as a contented , fulfilled human being.
Therefore, it is my responsibilty to make decisions about your wellbeing, which I feel are in your best interests. If I am uncomfortable with something you would like to do, or with an activity you have already perfomed which is unhealthy for you, then I AM OBLIGATED (!!! Sheesh my kids hate this part!) by my love and concern for you to say: a) I'm not comfortable with this.b) I do not believe it's in your best interests. Therefore, I cannot condone it, and IT'S NOT OKAY WITH ME! c) I believe you respect yourself enough to understand the above reasoning. You are always free to express your opinion and your ideas to me; we may both learn a lot from this exchange of ideas. BUT: even though you may disagree with me, you do realize that the privileges you have, and the enjoyment you get from other activities, are a result of my belief that you will exercise good judgement in those situations. Don't prove me wrong.
I often find it necessary to temporarily "disengage" from the situation ("We will continue this discussion later; I need time to think a bit.") so that I can get my ducks in a row and remeber what the goal is here -- *correction*, not *retaliation*! Sigh...
Like many parents, especially those of teens and pre-teens, I am a committed believer in "Natural Consequences". When violations occur, sometimes what husband and I end up doing -(well, mostly me, but husband is at least more supportive --Thank GOD!-- than he once was) -is having a conference with the offender.
-The extent and the circunstances of the infraction are briefly laid out. Then I'll ask the culprit for her perception of the rule(s) she's broken right now; how she views the infraction.
- She is told, calmly but very soberly, that we are disappointed in her, and that we feel disrespected.
- Also, that a major reason for this disappointment, is that she is a better person than her behaviour is currently showing. If needed, a few examples of this are given.
- Then we move into "The Penalty Phase", sigh.
Everybody's least favorite portion of dealing with consequences of bogus behaviour. Since the teen has already evinced a clear understanding of what the infraction was and what it entailed, I will sometimes ask if *she* can think of an appropriate, consistent, (and ENFORCEABLE! Lol!) consequence for the unaccpetable behaviour. Doesn't always work, of course, sometimes we get the defiant ol' "I still don't see why you guys wouldn't let me..."(fill in the blanks) In which case Mom says:
- "I realize what you're saying to me, Mousie. (Or Bug, or whomever). But I believe if you think about it a bit, you WILL understand; you're a bright kid. *However*!! Even if somehow you *never* really understand, the fact remains: This is the decision we have made; you violated that, and therefore it is up to you to deal with the result."
Not to write an encylopedia or anything but: As regard the basic Rules above, if you think about it, they're actually pretty comprehensive and allow for lots of problem-solving, criteria measuring, and application of principles by the kids. Rule #1 doesn't permit disrespect or discourteous behaviour -- whether it's to strangers, teachers, or family members.And it encompasses items right down to basic etiquette,table manners, not butting into/interrupting other people's conversations, and so forth.
Lying --nuff said. We had a go-round this spring wiith my 14 y.o. that really took the cake: Lied to me, lied to friend's father, then lied to me about lying about it!! Sheesh! It did not get her anything good...
Lying is pretty much the cardinal sin in my book.
Whining and sulking -- well, it drives me nuts and is the LAST way to get what you want in this house! Plus it, too, doesn't get you anything good except "Go to your room until you can be civil; this discussion is over."
Good luck hon. E-mail me if you want. I think they ought to give all of us mothers with teenagers The Distinguished Service Medal, The Purple Heart (one for each teen!)and Hazardous Duty Pay...and Combat Badges!! Lol...