1979 was proclaimed “The Year of the Child” by the United Nations. For the past couple of decades, at least, there has been a strong emphasis on children’s rights. Unfortunately the way this emphasis has evolved is that oftentimes kids are given more power in the home than their parents have. Ironically that power is given to the kids by well meaning parents who believe that their children should never be upset with them and should always be happy about rules and discipline.
I’m amazed at the number of parents today who don’t know how to set and enforce rules with their children. Most teenagers today believe their parents don’t have the right to tell them what to do.
Recently I ran across a brochure titled “Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Minor.” It is published by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. Notice what it says about obeying parents:
- Your parents can choose your friends, clothes and religion.
- They can also give you jobs to do around the house.
- They can tell you what time you must be home.
- If you refuse to obey the reasonable rules your parents have made or if you run away from home or refuse to go to school, you can be taken to a juvenile court.
That’s pretty plain, isn’t it? (To quote my father, “That’s not about it, that’s it.”)
I’ve been sharing this information with some parents and teens lately. You might guess their different reactions. Parents are excited, yet nervous because they’ve never set those kinds of boundaries. Teens are sullen and puffed up, but I believe they are inwardly relieved because every kid wants boundaries, even if they complain about them.
Rules make a kid feel secure and reduce their anxiety.