Before you worry that we are monster parents who are torturing our men-children, it’s quite the opposite. We are regular victims of “Teenage Torture”, a tried and true technique used by adolescents to wear down their parents when a decision is not considered favourable.
We all know that as a parent one of our key responsibilities is to make good decisions on behalf of our children. This is especially true when they are very young, and are completely dependent on you for everything. As children get older, there is a slow and eventual shift to their own decision-making, and along the way you hope you have provided them with the right guidance, but also an understanding of how to make decisions that are on the whole the right one, based on considered thought and reasonably sound judgement.
And somewhere along this spectrum is the difficult teenage period, when they think you don’t understand them at all, and that you don’t know anything, (no we’ve never been a teenager have we?) yet somehow you are able to make decisions on their behalf. A couple of recent cases in point, which have caused a fair amount of discussion/debate/angst in our house:
Pre-drinks on race day:
You would have read recently that we had to be very firm and put our foot down to stop a bunch of teenage boys descending on our home recently ahead of a Melbourne Cup Carnival race meeting. If they’d been allowed to, they all would have bought along a 6 pack of beers and sculled them before going to the races. Thankfully we quoted recent legislation that meant we could be fined $7,000 if we gave underage kids alcohol without parental consent so we were saved. But we had to withstand over a week of pressure from Man-Child I to relent.
We recently decided that our planned Christmas holiday was going ahead. For most, a trip to Sydney to see the sights would be exciting to say the least, especially when it includes such icons as Bondi Beach, and the Coat Hanger bridge. However, when the said holiday includes New Years Eve then the trouble starts. The objections list went like this:
- “What do you mean we’ll be in Sydney for NYE?” (OMG, my life as I know it is over, I have to spend NYE with my PARENTS)!!!
- “We have plans already” (about staying up all night and how much we’re going to drink)!
- “Can’t you just send us home on an earlier flight so we can be with our friends?” (and use the empty house for a great party).
- “You can call our mobiles whenever you want to find out where we are” (they won’t know we’re not at home when they call).
Now I don’t know about you, but the men-children are 15 (almost 16 and yes going on 25), but we just don’t think it’s a responsible decision to allow them to fly home 3 days before us, and then to allow them to head off somewhere for a NYE party. It’s not a responsibility we want to pass onto anyone else, and we’re just not prepared to do it. We did explain our decision to them, and the reasons for it. The timing of the holiday is driven by my new job, which dictates when we can take the break. We also explained it may be the last time they want to come with us for a family holiday (unless of course we pick a nice exotic destination), and that there’s plenty more NYE’s to come. But as I remember all too clearly, at 15 all you want to do is be with your friends, and NYE does seem to take on some ridiculous mantle of excitement and superiority over any other night of the year for some reason. As we all know, when you get older you can’t even be bothered staying up until midnight sometimes.
Alas, having made the decision and booked the flights (totally committing us) we are now enduring “Teenage Torture”. At 7am the other morning, just as I had finished making the school lunches, and was wolfing down breakfast, Man-Child II appeared to raise the subject again. “Why can’t we fly home from Sydney early”…..etc etc (see above). I don’t expect we’ve heard the last of it. Likely it will be a common theme running right up to Christmas. It reminds me of the days of toddlers, and tantrums, and the constant nagging in the hope you would just say “here, have the bloody thing and now shut up would you!”.
The other great point for debate has been over having the girlfriend to stay over. And we’re not just wanting her to stay at our house, but in his room and in his bed. Call me prudish, but that just is NOT happening now. They are still only 15!! To make matters worse, it seems this is now allowed at her house since they have been officially GF/BF. Hmmm, not happy to learn about that either. Both Father of a Man-Child and I are adamant on this, and refuse to give in, at least until he gets a bit older, and if they’ve been going out for longer than two months! Nevertheless, the Teenage Torture methods are again being employed. Man-Child II appears at odd times to subtly bring up the conversation yet again.
- Can she stay over on x night? Yes sure.
- Where will she sleep? Downstairs.
- Why can’t she stay in my room, with my other mate too? Because he’ll be on the floor and she’ll be in your bed. No.
- Are you serious? Yes. Then don’t have her to stay at all.
Teenage Torture is relentless. It’s constant, always there, ready to test your resolve, looking for a moment of weakness in the event you might just change your mind. The best remedy is Parental Persistence – just don’t give in once you’ve made up your mind. It’s exhausting, but sometimes we just know best (don’t we?)!
Please tell me, are we wrong? Are we being too prudish? Does it really matter if the GF stays? Should we lose an occasional battle to win the war? Or stick to our guns? Help!!!