Saturday, February 23, 2008

UR not my dad

I've been waiting for it for 10 years now. And, it finally happened last night. I got the, "I don't have to listen to you. You're not my real dad." line. I am thankful that I had 10 years to prepare for that. I simply calmly responded, "Son, I might not be your 'dad' but I am one of your parents and the other parent agrees." That ended the trouble.

The kid's 14, and at that age were he knows everything, won't do anything, doesn't want his parents around, and hates the world - you know, a teenager. I was just like that (OMG... I just realized that was 20 years ago *shudder*). So, we just shrug off a lot of his angst because we know he doesn't really mean stuff like that.

Case in point. Last night, he also said, "Well, I'm just gonna leave and not come back," in anger. I just looked at him with an expression of, "Yeah... I'm not believing that." And he said, "Ok, I'm not really gonna do that." He was just angry at the situation he found himself in.

And what was that situation? Ah, well, he was grounded. And, he knew he was going to be grounded. You see, last weekend, he wanted a friend to sleep over. As is the rule of the house, he can have a friend sleep over if his room is clean. It's a rare occasion that someone sleeps over because when he is reminded of that rule, he takes the lazy way out and decides he'd rather not clean his room. I'm sure he told his friend the reason the sleepover wasn't going to happen was, "My dad said, 'no,'" and not the whole truth "...because my room's not clean."

Anyway, so later that day he asks if he and his friend can sleep over at someone else's house that same night. I don't think it's fair for him have a sleepover somewhere else when he was asking about a sleepover here. So, I said for him to get his room clean... which strangely enough he began with reckless abandon. He didn't finish, though, when it came time for them to leave. It was a good start on cleaning, but he had a long way to go, and I was holding firm on the room being clean. I'm such a horrible parent, no doubt...

So, a few minutes later, he wants to make a deal with me. My first thought is, No, because we've made numerous deals before and he hasn't lived up to his end of the deal. For example, over the summer, the opportunity to sleep over at a friend's house arose and he had to go right then. "Your room's not clean." "I'll make a deal with you." And, so he was to clean his room that weekend after the sleep over... Never got done and that's our bad for not following through with discipline. And that's something that is not going to happen again.

In the end, we strike a deal where he can sleep over that night (a Sunday with no school the next day) and he has until Friday at 9pm to clean and organize his room. If that feat was not accomplished, he was going to be grounded until his room was done, losing all TV privileges, all computer privileges, all Xbox360 privileges, all DVD watching privileges, all iPod privileges, and all going over to people's houses privileges. Yesterday was reckoning day.

Needless to say, he was grounded and none to pleased about it. But, he needs to learn the lesson of holding up his end of a deal and his responsibilities. In anger, he said what he said. And in anger, this morning, I'm sure he'll refuse to go work on him room. If he keeps that up, I will warn him that his cell phone will be confiscated after a certain time.

He needs to learn that in the real world there are consequences. He needs to learn that you can't just blow off your end of a bargain. That is what I am trying to teach him. As painful as, "You're not my dad, " can be, as difficult as being a parent to a hormonal teenager can be, I'm trying to keep two thoughts in mind:

Proverbs 19:18, "Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death."

Proverbs 22:7, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old his will not turn from it."

These two Proverbs keep me strong. They help remind me that his words are said in anger, not what he really believes. They keep me focused on the results that won't come for 10 or 15 years.

He's a good kid. He's just a teenage one right now. He actually reminds me of me when I was that age. I think he'll be fine.

Update: (10:30am) This morning, he woke up and found me. He said, "Do you want to make some bacon with me?" But, the underlying tone and subtext was, "I'm sorry for what I said last night." We didn't have any bacon, though. Then, he said, "Well, I need to finish cleaning my room." I just smiled.

Update 2 (10:00pm): His room is clean. He took a long nap at one point. But, it's clean. :)

1 comment:

Ryan said...

I tried posting a comment the other day, but it must have not gone through.

Being a new father and reading the updates to your story, brought a tear to my eye. I admire you.