On Raising Teenagers

Ok, I’m not the parent of a teenager. I’m about to do something that I think may turn around and bite me in the butt later but I’m going to say what I think I would do if my teenager did this. It’s a story I found on Fox News about how a woman is teaching her son about his bad choices with grades and academics. The ONLY reason I’m putting myself out there about this issue is because I spent 8 years in the school system giving me a perspective that I like to believe is valid. Most likely, when my kids are teenagers, I will regret this post…

If, for some reason, my kid decided to get bad grades or drop out of school or whatever here is my plan (remind me of it when Abby’s looking at me with her big blue puppy-dog eyes):

I will not humiliate my kid. I will not publicly denounce her. My first step will be to try and find out what the problem is. Are they having a learning difficulty? Do they need glasses, tutoring, more time with Mommy hanging over their shoulder while they work out their homework?

If it comes down to pure and simple laziness, which I have discovered is a huge problem with high school aged students, she (since I only have girls right now) will start to lose things. Phone, internet access, clothing allowance.

My obligations to my child are to put a roof over their heads, feed them, and make sure they aren’t naked, and teach them the best I know how to be responsible, God-fearing adults. Everything after that is privilege. If my parents taught me anything, that was it. (Yes, you did something right! You were wonderful parents…)

They will not have a cell phone, laptop, ipod, out-to-eat provided my mom and dad, gym membership, travel, car privileges, car insurance, gas money clothing allowance or anything like that. If they want to eat, they can eat what is in the fridge. If they want to talk to someone on the phone, they can use the land line. If they NEED clothing, I will take them to the Goodwill with $10 and they can get what they NEED. This is all to show them that if they want to put in minimal effort, this is the state they will be living in whether they are living with me or on their own in this world. I don’t want to instill in my kids the idea that laziness will be overlooked or even rewarded.

Now, if they decide (and I hope that would motivate them to decide quickly) to get their grades up to acceptable levels (I emphasize that any time I’m asked for help I would be VERY willing to sit and help them as much as I can, and if I can’t teach them what needs to be taught, I would happily hire a tutor or take them to private meetings with a willing teacher. BUT I will also say that as a teacher, the majority of my “helping” with students included making sure they READ the directions and followed them properly…), their privileges will be restored slowly.

I want to provide my kids with cool stuff. I am of the opinion that their job is to go to school, get good grades and maybe work an after school job if they want. If they do this well, I will reward it like you would get paid at a job. I want some opinions on this, specifically from people who have teenagers. Is my plan totally flawed? Yes, I’m putting myself out there. I’m asking for criticism (hopefully positive), suggestions, ideas and discussion.


Filed under parenthood, parenting, Uncategorized

5 responses to “On Raising Teenagers

  1. Val

    Despite the usual teenage arguments at our house, I believe I have raised a responsible, God-fearing young woman. She pays for most everything she needs with her two small jobs; cell phone, meals on FFA trips, some personal items and occasionally gas for the family car. If she had her own car, she would be paying her own gas and insurance but since we only have one and she trucks around her brother when needed I don’t ask that of her also. We have one computer with internet connection that we all share and her iPod was an 8th grade graduation gift from her grandparents.

    I think you are right on Callie. I am desperately trying to instill the “money doesn’t grow on trees” lesson into my 10 year old. A harder lesson for him because he wants to spend it as soon as it is in his pocket. But, he has to work for it. Very rarely, do I give him money just because. He is industrious though, and I fully expect him to be working without my motivation as soon as he is old enough.

    I’ll let you know if all I have tried to instill in my kids backfires.

    • I can’t wait to hear how this all works out for you. I know that I already have a tendency to throw out threats that are never followed through on. I hope that I can get up the energy to always be that person who only says what I’m willing and able to do with/for my child.

  2. Nicole

    The way I see it is I think the point you are trying to make (its 430 am my time). While teens are in school, that is their job at the time. To get good grades and study hard. They should not be responsible for feeding an entire family or caring for their siblings 24/7 (mind u the 24/7 thing, babysitting if fine :)). However if they would LIKE to have the luxuries and privileges of driving, they should work for it. Insurance, gas money etc. I say this never having a car throughout highschool (thanks to living at BMA full time I had no need for one) and not getting my first car til the summer after I graduated. A 1990 honda accord with other 400,000 miles on it. Crappy car..but it was mine. My parents provided my necessities, but the luxuries I paid for…with my $20 a month from industry lol. It is tough, but at the same time kids need to realized that even while still having the necessities they are privileged. some kids don’t even have that. Now trying to explain all this to me when I was 17…forget it lol. BUT looking back, I am thankful. So you do what you think you have to, the best you know how and some how, we mostly turn out ok. So far your ideas don’t seem too off 🙂

  3. Eunice

    I had some teenagers once – back in the dark ages! There were no ipods, cell phones, computers, video games-well there was Pong!- to take away. I had one particular child who was very smart but didn’t see the necessity of turning in all his assignments. This started about 6th grade and went through most of academy. This was also a time when length of boy’s hair was crucial. I decided the hair was the school’s problem. If they wanted it shorter they could tell him, send him home, call me – whatever. His handwriting was non-existent and his printing looked like 1st grade with a mixture of caps and small letters. His 9th grade summer he had to have knee surgery so I thought this was an excellent time to practice handwriting! After making this strongly worded “suggestion” he very politely and calmly answered, “If I am unable to get a job because of my handwriting (my suggestion) I will be the one to suffer.” and various other similar statements. Now, he wasn’t failing his classes, but he surely wasn’t getting the grades he could have gotten. But somewhere in late academy he got inspired and he now has a PhD in psychology. Sometimes they just have to mature and get inspired.

    In the money category, they started with an allowance at 9 – but they also had to buy their own shoes. What a trial as I watched them buy expensive shoes and grow out of them too quickly, cheap shoes and watched them fall apart – and worst of all – watched as one of them wore his shoes until they were nearly falling off because he was too cheap to buy new ones. I was embarrassed that people would think their dentist father wouldn’t even buy them new shoes. They learned a lot and so did I. All 3 have a string of letters behind their names now and I am having fun watching them raise their teens. Grandma’s revenge!!

    • Eunice, These are the best stories ever. I love hearing about other parents who have already been through it and came out the other side relatively unscathed. I miss you, lady! And Gary too. Tell him for me.

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