By Belinda Crosier, LPC, LADC
Oh, those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer! They’re almost here, & with them, come expectations by parents & children about what those days will render. Sometimes those expectations don’t align very closely at all, nor are they likely to be spoken aloud, which leads eventually to surprising realizations by all parties. It’s safe to say most adolescents expect that very description to come to fruition----lazy, hazy & yes, even crazy, while parents usually expect – or at least hope – to see their kids being slightly more productive. One way to navigate this more smoothly is to have a family meeting ASAP after the last school bell rings & make the expectations clear. This will probably be met with fewer groans & rolled eyes if parents can acknowledge that they’re willing for their kids to have some fun while school is out. That being said, now to the unpleasantness of establishing summer rules about…….(yuck!) chores. There are several ways to look at this age-old source of grumbles; however, I personally feel that chores are simply preparation for the real world & that all kids should have chores all the time, but not everyone in Edmond, America concurs. The question is, do the kids take on extra chores in the summer? It’s seems reasonable, especially if both parents have jobs outside the home, that the people in the house with the most spare time on their hands, could take on an extra task or two without risking enslavement. Factor in the expense of increased activities kids expect to participate in & those additional chores can be seen as a means of earning their fun, which is how the real works for most of us.
Then there’s the sticky wicket of (yuck, again!) curfew. Adolescents, in particular, seem to operate under the belief that everyone in the free world can stay up half the night & sleep half the day, wreaking havoc on the sleep schedules of their parents. It is not unreasonable to expect – or demand – that your children be – and stay – in the house after a designated hour of your choosing. Explaining that the roof over their heads and the latest electronic gadget in their hands at that moment exist as a result of the adults in the household being able to wake up & get to their appointed responsibilities five to seven days a week, might make it a little more palatable to suggest that if their nighttime antics prevent that from happening, they will be prevented from enjoying those luxuries. It’s not incomprehensible that parents may have to employ some innovative methods for insuring their kiddos stay tucked in the house beyond the established bewitching hour.
Having been there & done that myself, I understand this will elicit many complaints, and certain testing of the limits & consequences. If these rules have been sufficiently explained from the get-go, the broken record technique (i.e., “The rule is…………..” as many as times as needed) will suffice to restate the expectation without being drawn into any lengthy debate about the perceived fairness of these rules. Having a pre-thought out response to complaints/accusations such as, “Thank you for your thoughts on that,” or a simple, “Could be,” with a little smile, lets your child know you’ve heard their protest but you’re not swayed by it. The truly persistent youngster may well intensify the attack, but you, as the just-as-persistent parent, continue to mindlessly repeat the broken record statement. The ‘mindless’, or automatic response will help you stay detached, and by not feeling you need to defend your stance, it’s more likely you’ll avoid taking the resistance as a personal affront and thereby sidestep attack/counter-attack, escalating interactions with your child. Have a great summer! Edmond Family Counseling is here to support you and your family. Please support us with your donation so everyone has access to mental health care. www.edmondfamily.org