This is a question most parents find hard to answer, especially since in the present ultra modern era, there are unsavory temptations lurking around the corner that your teenage child may not be able to handle. Of course, teenagers would not echo these silly sentiments, as they would call it, as they believe they are old enough to handle any situation they may have to deal with.
It is impossible to open a newspaper or turn on the TV without reading or watching juvenile crimes committed for money, drugs, love, vengeance, peer pressure etc. Naturally, there is an underlying fear on account of which we draw the line and expect our children to toe them. We tell ourselves that this state of affairs would continue only until we are assured they are old enough to fend for themselves.
I realize adolescence is a difficult age on account of changing hormones and the fact that they feel left out from both worlds, where they are too old to be called a kid and too young to be termed an adult. It is an age of ‘I know it all’ and ‘you just don’t understand’ and all they want is to explore, have fun and try their newly found sexuality.
When my son turned 16, he started straining against my apron strings. He felt it was no longer ‘cool’ to accompany his parents to shopping trips or social visits to friends or even a wedding party. His friends were slowly replacing us in his loyalties and every other sentence he uttered began with ‘my friend and I’. Every time he asked if he could go out with a friend for a movie, I would say no as was the usual norm with parents of teenagers. I would insist on knowing who he was going out with, was it a U rated movie and what time would be get back. He would insist he was not a kid anymore and that parents of other kids were ‘chilled out’ and did not ask for an ‘account’ of their movements.
How many times have I heard my son complain ‘so and so’s parents don’t mind letting their son go’. I field his question with another question, ‘how many parents gift their sons with iPod or an Apple laptop or an iPad without really deserving them?
Ground rules set by parents of one teenager may not necessarily work for another teenager as there are several factors like circumstance, family, financial means, culture, etc., to be considered. Conditions acceptable to a city teen may appear insane to a suburb teen. What works for a precocious teen may be unsafe for an introvert teen and what is alright for a teenage boy may not be ok for a teenage girl.
My husband and I have conflicting views about raising children. He is infinitely more liberal than I am and believes in giving some leeway as opposed to my view of restricted outings, although we both agree that we must trust our son to do the right thing and take responsibility for his actions. Children, when they are little are pliable and responsive to rules but as they get older they chaff against restrictions and demand to be allowed to spread their wings. Strict parenting takes a tumble and every situation becomes a long drawn battle of words and wits. However, each debate is an eye opener and study in anger management.
Over disciplining or spoiling your teenage kid could result in the opposite of what you hope to achieve. We should get an equal balance where your kid is subjected to both treatments and the outcome is usually favorable.