Growing up as a teen, I had this one friend – Stephanie- who I felt lived the ‘good life’. Her parents not only bought her a brand new car when she turned 16 but also allowed her to stay out all hours attending any parties she wanted. They believed in a hands-off parenting style that made my parents look like dictators in comparison. For one, I had a curfew (which I deemed unrealistic), I was only allowed to watch certain TV programs and movies and had to notify my parents whenever I went out. Being a teen, I thought this was enough evidence of my parents’ meanness.
By the time we finished high school, however, Stephanie had a juvenile record for drunk driving and was also hopelessly addicted to drugs. It wasn’t until I was well into adulthood that I made the connection between her parents’ laxity and Stephanie’s unrestrained reckless behavior.
I’m Proud Of My Strictness
Now that I have 3 teens of my own and with the benefit of hindsight, I’m truly grateful for my own parents’ strictness. I’m glad that structure and rules were such a big part of my life growing up and I’ve no doubt that they helped me become the responsible adult I am today. I also want the same for my children.
As any parent will tell you, raising teens can be tough. In their quest for independence, they will challenge your authority at every turn. I have lost count of the number of times my decisions have been met with cries of, “You’re too mean!” In spite of this, I don’t relent in walking down the path of tough loving. I’m a firm believer in teaching children etiquette and manners right from an early age. I also believe that children thrive if the family has appropriate boundaries, limits and household rules.
Mine might not be a popular position in this era of cool, permissive parents on social media but I’ll stick to it. Why you ask?
Well, because doing age- appropriate chores will teach my kids responsibility and important life skills. Rules teach them what is acceptable and disciplining helps them learn that disrespect and misbehavior have consequences. If I push my kids to work hard, both in academics and sports, they’ll learn how to achieve their goals and enjoy the self-confidence that comes with it. My kids might not like it when I instill curfews and other rules, or when I push to know who they hang out with and where, but I do it regardless.
I do it because part of my job is to bring up responsible, independent adults and I would be abdicating my duties if I wasn’t strict. Sure, I’ll encounter some resistance along the way but having kids who are self-disciplined, respectful, confident and self-restrained is a great payoff. So I’m ok with being a strict mom.