My 17-year-old son does not listen to us and frequently displays bouts of anger when he does not get his way with us. We try to give him everything he wants. We want to be good friends with him so that we can speak frankly on all subjects. We also have a very hectic social life and are quite liberal in our outlook. I really don’t know how to treat him as we are quite lenient with him in regards to him coming home late and all that. We give him sufficient pocket money so that he is comfortably off. He has the latest mobile phones and only wears branded clothes. For his birthday we even bought him a motorbike in my husband’s name as he claimed that all his mates have one. He is now in Class 11 and has to prepare for his upcoming board exams next year. He does not attend college regularly and consequently fallen behind on his attendance requirements. Both of us are working professionals and we feel that his teachers should also take responsibility for his development.
In today’s era of consumerism where career goals take precedence over family life, the job of parenting is also sought to be outsourced to the teaching fraternity. Or the attempt is made by parents to ‘buy’ the respect and affection of their children instead of inculcating in them the values and beliefs that are so essential to lay the foundations for the development of their personality. It is a sad situation.
First of all, your son has enough friends at his age. What he needs is his parents to be acting like grown-ups. Be friendly, but be the ‘elder’ in the relationship, be his guide and be the ‘brakes’ that is required for his journey. Learn to say ‘no’. The way I see it, you are being irresponsible and taking the easy way out by giving in to his every demand without even bothering to contemplate the consequences of his, as well as your actions.
Deep within, most children crave limits and discipline by authority figures in their life. But they are also smart enough to know who the ‘weaker’ adults are in their life and indulge in manipulating them to ensure that they get what they want. Stop trying so hard to be ‘cool’ parents. Be role models instead.
Start this ‘Reward and Pressure’ scheme now — curtail his allowances till he pulls up his grades, and reward him only once he starts performing in academics and his attendance comes up to the desired standards.
Maybe he will even start enjoying these challenges and grow up to be an efficient professional at a later stage. It is now that you must lay the foundation stone to his success in the future.
Take away his motorbike immediately. You should be ashamed of yourselves! Breaking the law and making your son a part of it! You will only have yourselves to blame if he is caught by the cops riding the bike without a valid licence, or worse. There is a proposal for a new law that states that parents will be held responsible, and arrested in cases where minors have access to vehicles and have caused accidents. All the best. Going forward, I’m sure each one of you will reclaim your rightful place in the family structure.
(The writer is an image consultant and corporate trainer. If you have queries for him, send them to email@example.com)