The process of maturing through the teenage years includes the difficult concept of independence. In our home, as you know from previous postings, we have a wonderful, intelligent and responsible young man. This school year, he really wanted to manage his school work and schedule. He wants to declare his independence.
For the first quarter of the year, he did remarkably well. As parents, we became cautiously optimistic. We thought back to all the troubles we had caused our own parents, and wondered if we were colorizing the past. Maybe we had also been perfect examples of taking control of our own lives without as much as a hiccup. But alas, as the second quarter of school kicked in, and the workload intensified, the immaturity of his newfound self-governance became apparent. Working until all hours of the night, sleep deprived and distracted by all of our modern day technologies, we counseled our struggling son on the benefits of prioritization and focus. Sadly, even though he seemed to be watching us with those baggy eyes, the messages weren’t changing any behavior. He still felt he could juggle Facebook, Instant Messaging, Texting, Xbox, YouTube and homework simultaneously.
At times, we as parents need to remember that we are dictators. Yes, benevolent dictators, but dictators nonetheless. At 1:30 AM the other day, I explained this to my bleary-eyed son. I explained that he was trying to establish a sovereign nation; his own independent life. He needed a working government to make sure he made the right choices in life. He needed a system of rules and laws that would guide him. While he has always done a remarkable job, I informed him that we were witnessing graft, corruption and rioting in his system. Establishing your independence in 2010 is infinitely more challenging than it was in 1980; there is no doubt about that. Therefore, he now finds himself under marshall law, which dictates clear priorities: homework, sleep, then all else. During homework, all non-essential electronic gear will be turned off and stowed.
As a family, we reviewed these rules last night for clarity and fairness. He is incredibly mature and responsible, and agreed that it seems to be fair. His only request was to use his last 20 minutes of freedom to play a little Pacman. Of course, it was the humane thing to do. After all, we are trying to stabilize his forming government, and support his independence. We are not tying to incite riots and revolution. There is no need for a Boston Tea Party here.