Saturday, July 9, 2016

Rules For My 16-Year Old This Summer

Motherhood is an evolution because as the kids change, we parents have to tweak our parenting skills to coincide with whatever stage they're in. For example, a few years ago I wrote a popular post entitled “6 Rules To Help The Teen & I This Summer”. My son is now a few weeks away from turning 16 and, despite his best efforts, was unable to secure either a job or even a volunteer opportunity this season, since most places won't even consider hiring anyone who's 15 (I'm sure there's a reason for this, but Hey Volunteer Organizations: This policy sucks! He's a great kid who would have been an asset to your nursing home, animal shelter, etc.). While I'm giddy that Junior is around this vacation, I've once again, had to adjust the parameters for his 10 weeks or so off since his level of maturity is far different than it was a few years ago. 

This is an image off Pixabay - it's not my teen.

So are are my original 6 Rules For My Teen, plus a few I've added to help my adolescent and I thrive while he's around:

  1. You must tell me where you're going and check in with me periodically. Whereas before, I wanted to know your route, that's no longer necessary. You're almost 6' tall and know the whole child abduction drill. Still, I want to know what your ultimate destination is, whether it's the pizza parlor, friend's house, etc. 

  2. You must respond on your cellphone when I call or text me back. When you were 13, the rule was you had to always have his cellphone on you (and charged) because you'd just gotten it. Now it's basically a part of your body. But you've got to answer and/or text back, otherwise, I worry. This, of course, implies that I won't pester you with questions, check-ins, etc. which I do not. 

  3. You pay for the bulk of your entertainment. You get an allowance. Pay for your own excursions (to restaurants, waterparks, etc.). If you don't have the money, we'll work it out.

  4. Figure out what you need and bring it. Water bottles, sunscreen, a swimsuit, towels – pack ahead of time and if you forget it, consider it a learning experience.

  5. Your friends are welcome to come over, but there must be an “ending time” to their visits. A few years back, we had several kids who came in the morning and didn't leave until well into the night, despite being told what time their parents should pick them up. I love your friends, but the shear number of those open-ended visits threw the family off.

  6. If you makes future plans, let us know about them. Summertime is still, to some degree, family time and we'd like to see him, especially on the weekends. We all have the Cozi Family Calendar app on our smartphones (it allows all parties to see and adjust the family calendar) so there should be no confusion about events that are coming up; these events include your own plans which are to be respected by your dad and me.

Additional rules for my soon-to-be 16 year-old:

  1. We need to limit the larger friend gatherings. During the school year, you have upwards of 10 kids coming here on Friday nights. While I WANT THEM HERE, having such a large number of teens here a few times a week strains the family budget. Have one or two kids over a few times a week, but the larger hang-outs are still limited to once per week.

  2. You've got to work around the house. Yes, your choreload has increased for the summer, of course, because you're around more; no, you're not getting a larger allowance for this. Some things you're just expected to do because you're part of the family. But there are a few projects we need done like painting the front door, de-cluttering the garage, etc. that that you're perfectly capable of doing – for an additional price. Similarly, you've agreed to give your sister music lessons which I LOVE because it's a time that you're having fun together without video. 

  3. Sometimes, get yourself from place to place. I am not Uber. I don't mind driving you somewhere if I happen to be going in that direction, but the concept of “pick me up here and take me there” is not happening. If I'm in a good mood, I may assist with part of the journey, but our town is small, your pals are relatively close, and your legs work. Use them either to walk or pedal that wonderful adult bike we got you a few years back. Similarly, I am not your friends' taxi. If Mike wants to come over, let him find a way to do it – I'm not picking him up (and yes, I've had parents who work ask me if I can ferry their kids about). 

  4. You are now responsible for his own pool badge, health club card, library card, etc. Mommy is not the keeper of these articles any more. It's time to carry a wallet with these cards in it along with cash for incidentals. 

  5. Friends do not belong in your bedroom. Adolescence is a time of exploration. While your buddies friends are great, they're still teens and no one is going to try drugs or alcohol on my watch if I can help it. As for girls – there's no WAY they're setting foot in your bedroom! Our house is big enough where y'all can hang in the den. There's no reason for your hommies to explore other recreational rooms.

  6. You can wait on your friends and clean up after they leave. This is part of hosting. Kid, you ask your friends what they want to drink and get it for them. I'll buy the snacks, but you serve. He also needs to clear dishes and vacuum the rug (for crumbs) once they leave. To your credit, as soon as the door closes on the last kid, you're on Clean Up Duty without any prompting from me. 

Parents, sure, a lot of these rules are common sense, however, putting them out there, discussing them ahead of time, means fewer arguments. Next year, when my son is driving, I'll drop some of guidelines because he won't need reminding and add others pertaining to the car. 

The car....oh Lord! Stay tuned, readers. More advice on teens coming up shortly as Junior gets his Permit. 

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