My eldest son is on the fringe of being caught on the party bandwagon. Let’s celebrate everything we can, and even when there is nothing to celebrate, let’s have a party anyway. Let’s not call it a party, let’s call it “casual drinks”, “birthday drinks” and let’s have “pre-drinks” and then go to the “party / get together”.
I was young once. I have been on the party bandwagon as well. Now I am THAT parent who has to deal with their own son wanting to go to THOSE types of parties.
I only remember once a party getting out of control and the police being called. Well, by the time I arrived, the police were already there. It was a pretty easy decision, and one made for me by the police, to turn around and go back home. It seems that if the police AREN’T called sometimes, then the party really hasn’t been a party.
I am left debating in my own head all the things I should allow him to do, or what are the things I could allow him to do. I would much prefer to have him locked up at home, put bubble wrap around him, not give him the keys to my car and keep him socially and physically ostracised from his friends - I am sure that would not affect him into adulthood as he finishes Grade 12 this year!
I have determined in my head to live by a very simple parenting strategy…
I AM THE PARENT
I am the parent
It’s a simple way of looking at things. It’s about being the parent, not his friend, making the tough decisions with putting his well-being at the forefront of my thinking. This is not easy to do or say or write about. It is tough being a parent.
For me, this strategy does not involve a flat out, “No, you can’t go” philosophy. I have begun to try and educate my son on how to party safely, while at the same time reminding him I am the parent and I will make the final decisions. I am hoping I am giving not just the legal reasons why, but also the moral reasons why behind my decisions. This is turn will assist him with the next phase of his adult life when he has to make his own decisions about his life.
If I have made mistakes along the way with him and this parenting strategy, then I will see the ramifications very soon; as soon as next year actually, after he has graduated from high school.
I still have two other sons who are listening, observing, asking the questions as to why I have made the decisions I have made with my eldest son. I know there is one of them whose memory will remember very clearly every decision I have made and will recall some of the very basic “guidelines” we have set over the years.
“When can I watch [insert M or M 15+ rated movie here]? “
“Can I have a sip of that drink?”
“So am I able to move the car in the driveway?”
And so on it goes…
Adult things ?
Who should be making the decisions about when my sons can do adult things?
I think the world has some very clear guidelines about these issues.
if the government/law is telling us what rating a TV show or movie is…
if the government/law is telling us when we can legally buy and drink alcohol (You might be surprised at the laws here with regard to what happens on your private property and minors)…
if the police are telling us how to party safe…
Then, as a parent, as a Christian parent, I have used these government, police and legal websites to help and guide my decision making. This is what the world thinks about these issues, then should my standards be equal to or higher than what the government says?
I am not saying this type of approach hasn’t caused conflict in my household. He has been to parties and we go through the process with him every time- as the Party Safe website tells us to!
Belinda and I at times have felt no sense of power in our parenting. Are we actually the “world’s strictest parents”? Is that a label we want our sons to carry? Is that a label we want to carry? Can’t we be “cool” parents? What is a “cool” parent? How will my sons parent their own kids? Will they want to be like us or turn against our decisions and parenting strategies?
What do we have to rest our values on when we are parenting this way? What values or worldview are my sons resting or relying on when they become adults? Yes, Belinda and I have our faith. Yes, Belinda and I have our Bible. Yes, Belinda and I have our God. We came to that decision ourselves. We came to that decision in our time.
In the end, we want our sons to own their own values and beliefs. We want them to make wise decisions with how they live in the world, how they see/view God, but also how they see/view the world they will be sent out into. There is no way they are living with us for the rest of their lives!
My sons need to be able to stand for something- or they will fall for anything.
Russell Modlin teaches English and Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three children.
Russell Modlin’s archive of previous article can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html