Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Mexican Standoff - Parenting Teens Style

For years I have been picking my battles and negotiating and compromising. I have at times been more lenient than I imagined I would.

No more.

We are at full Mexican Standoff mode here.

The stakes have been raised. The problems continue mounting. The lies have multiplied. For each inch given a mile is taken.

Enough is enough.

My husband is in agreement with me. We have talked and pondered and made decisions.

The line is being drawn in the sand.

The Mexican Standoff has begun.


1. We will provide a roof over our kid's heads and clothing and healthy food to eat. We have family rules that must be followed. A couple of very easy chores must be done by each child, like taking the food out to the compost bin and rolling the trash can curbside.

2. Our children will be supplied with the opportunity for good physical and mental health. This is the top goal. To this end we are accessing not just basic care covered by insurance but are paying out of pocket for high quality care and treatments which are not covered by insurance.

3. Our children will be afforded the opportunity for a high quality education at home. If this does not work out, school will be used. Learning is not optional, it's a state law requirement. Period. Private tutors are hired when necessary to supplement home education or to supplement paid courses.

4. Priviledges and fantastic things like a $2400 trip to the 2013 Boy Scout Jamboree or the $2000+ trip to Key West for Boy Scout Sea Base are offered if the rules of the house are followed and if #1-3 are being met with success.

5. Lesser wonderful things such as not just basic clothing but the trendy fashions of their choice, iPods, laptop computers, high end mountain bikes, sports team participation, mobile phones with texting and any number of other optional fun entertaining things are available if #1-3 are done with success.

6. Driving in the teen years is not necessary but is the highest priviledge of all. Not only must #1-3 be done but responsibility and maturity must be displayed on a consistent basis. If and when this ever does happen, we will figure out who will pay for what. Insurance for teen boys is expensive, and a busy kid doing a sport and Scouts and possibly still, the robotics team, has little time for a paid part-time job. Getting the driver's permit on the 15th birthday did not happen here. Turning a certain age does not mean the kid will get to do it. Period.


Ahermitt said...


Deborah said...

In our house, 1 & 2 are similar, although no chores are assigned (I sometimes ask for help, I pay for some harder ones like cutting the grass, and some are done without input from me. 3,4,5 are defined differently for us, because we don't make a distinction between formal and informal types of learning. My son did three "big" scout activities with his troop, including Sea Base and the 2005 National Jamboree. President Bush addressed the Jamboree and my son discovered what it was like to listen to a compelling speaker (something that does not necessarily come across on video)and feel drawn to a message that one may not necessarily agree was a powerful experience the kind of thing he could not have learned in a traditional academic setting. My son got his computer smarts from his first computer, and then from the dozens he scrounged. Access to technological gadgets is not (in our view) a luxury, but leads to acquisition of essential skills. We provided some of the high dollar items and the kids saved for others. We had hoped driving would happen earlier because of our remote area, but our son got his license at 18 (and an old car to tear apart and put together shortly thereafter). We found that it was actually quite cheap to put him on our policy, at our insurance company's (USAA)recommendation. Second child is working on her license now...maybe will have it before 19. The youngest is the only who has shown any interest in early driving...that's a year or so away. Texas law regarding homeschooling is very broad...specific subjects are required but levels of mastery are not specified, nor curriculum, nor methods, nor attendance. For us this means that we really can tailor the education to the child in terms of timing, subject, interest, whatever. Although not yet a college student, my middle child has been participating in college classes for two years now...she has been told that if she attends the college, she can either challenge out of the courses or receive credit. It concerns me when I see that an approach which has worked very well for my asynchronous children (and apparently resulted in more motivation and direction than in many of their peers) sometimes dismissed as "not real learning". The notion that learning must become busywork and unpleasant drudgery because that is how high school is done horrifies me...and makes me fear that our way of life and philosophy of education is in danger of being damaged by those that think homeschoolers need to be held "accountable" through testing and oversight and curriculum standardization...some of the very things that are not working so well for the public schools now.