November 17, 2004

Annals of Alarmist Parenting, Part 2

Parenting expert Jan Faull, MEd, continues giving her eloquent advice...

"Q. My 15-year-old son recently made the varsity baseball team. Ever since, he has been hanging around with an older group of boys who stay out late on the weekends. We've given him an 11:00 p.m. curfew, and he had been respecting it until this past Saturday when he didn't get home until 1:00 a.m. He said he simply lost track of time and had a hard time getting someone to drive him home since everyone else had later curfews. I am concerned he might be partying with this older crowd. How should I approach this topic with him?"

Here's an idea: 'listen, son. I know what you told me happened, but clearly I don't believe you, so let's stop pretending that I actually respect you as a person and I'll just ground you for a few weeks'. No?

"A. When your son sits down at the kitchen table to eat, sit with him . . . Say to him what you've asked in your question. Do so by creating your own version of the following, 'I'm so proud that at 15 years you're on the varsity baseball team. Since making the team, however, I've noticed you're hanging around an older group of boys . . .' "

Good one, Sherlock. You've noticed that since your 15-year-old joined a varsity sports team he's been hanging around with a group of older boys. That does seem pretty fucking bizarre.

" . . . Continue by expressing empathy and stating a rule, "I know that it's important for you to be accepted by your teammates, but in this family, underage drinking is not okay." With care and concern, articulate your fears: "I fear that you'll get caught and lose your position on the team, become addicted to alcohol, or be in a drunk-driving car accident . . .' "

You know who else drinks? Terrorists. Terrorists and 'the gays'. Tell your son you don't want him to turn into some kind of limp-wristed dissident.

"Give him time to respond but don't expect him to be gracious. He may blow up, he may stomp off in a huff, he may roll his eyes and tell you how ridiculous you're being, or he may deny any such behavior. How he responds is not of consequence."

It's funny how much of Dr Faull's advice seems to include this caveat. 'My advice will make your teen angry, but that just means it's working.'

"In addition, let him know that he can refuse a beer while staying friendly to the person who offered it. Also, tell him that you're more than willing to pick him up and bring him home if he doesn't have a ride . . ."

Gee-- thanks, mom.

I should point out that from this point onwards Dr Faull's advice gets pretty decent and no longer joke-worthy. I say this only to avoid the accusation that I'm distorting her words. I've been reading a lot about the laws relating to what you can and can't say in a blog and-- boy!-- am I lucky I haven't been sued yet!

And now, to bed.

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