Dr. Braccio: It seems being old fashioned about parenting is a flaw to many. My husband and I live in a home filled with love where our 14 and 15 year old sons are to let us know what they are doing, where they are and with whom. They have a curfew of 9:00 p.m. during the week and at midnight on weekends. After discussion with them, exceptions are made for school events and reasons we find reasonable. They also have chores we expect them to complete. To be good students is expected. Our kids go along with most of this. The problem is with friends of theirs who put pressure on them to push us to change. It amazes us that various parents of their friends feel we are too rigid and need to open up. Two parents have actually told us this. Most of their friends do not have curfews and few expectations at home. What do you think? Are we too rigid?
I do not think you are “too rigid”. In a world loaded with teenage disrespect, drug abuse, inappropriate sexual conduct, parental abdication of responsibility, and family chaos in many homes, the consistency you offer is critical to their chances for success in life now and in the future. Behaviors and outlooks during these years will predictably continue in adulthood.
Parents must be consistent and fair in their parenting. You appear to meet both standards. That other parents and their children think you are too strict is their opinion and nothing for you to worry about. You also can find parents with far more restrictive curfews and rules than you have. It is your responsibility to determine how to raise your children.
Too often parents cave in to the opinions of their children or others on parenting. This is the deceptively easy thing to do and reduces much pressure in the short term. The problem is that your parental standards become inconsistent, will always be challenged, and the end result too often is to lose control over your children through ineffective parenting.
An important aspect of parenting is to be flexible as a parent. Rules that are written in stone and never can be discussed or adjusted can limit your options by not being able to make exceptions. This does not appear to be a problem for you because you involve the children and do make exceptions for school events and other situations you feel are reasonable on an individual basis. Their involvement in family expectations is always a good idea.
Human beings need structure in their lives. This is particularly true with children in their teenage years. With all the social pressures and physical changes occurring, it is important that the home and family be a center of love and consistency. Do not back off from offering your children what you believe they need. Continue to be effective parents.
When all is said and done, you need to parent in a manner you are comfortable. Follow the dictates of your own heart and conscience.
Don’t Cave In To Parenting Pressure