Why rules (even the an­noy­ing ones) mat­ter

How to not scoff at silly school laws

Bayview Post - - Kids -

Of all the par­ent­ing mis­takes I made — and there are many — one in par­tic­u­lar stands out as an ex­am­ple of in­dulging my­self, try­ing to look cool to one of my (then) ado­les­cent kids and act­ing against my fun­da­men­tal par­ent­ing goals. It had to do with school rules.

Dumb and dumber. Me. The thing about par­ent­ing mis­takes is that we all make them and we all feel guilty af­ter­wards. Which is not so help­ful. My ex­pe­ri­ence of parental guilt is that it’s both toxic and stupid. But more on that in a later col­umn, for we know that parental guilt can fill an en­cy­clo­pe­dia. Back to rules. All schools have rules. Some of them, like no bul­ly­ing, drugs or al­co­hol, make sense. Some of them of­ten seem opaque es­pe­cially to us lib­eral par­ents. When the snazzy pri­vate school my son went to put a let­ter in his file for “bad at­ti­tude,” I was pissed. (Like mother, like son?) The kid had good grades, was never tru­ant, had no blots on his copy book other than at­ti­tude.

I de­cided the school was be­ing au­thor­i­tar­ian and that my un­der­stand­ing of my son was bet­ter than theirs. This was the core of my mis­take. Of course I know my son bet­ter than they do. No­body was con­test­ing that. But the part I failed to com­pre­hend was that pretty much ev­ery­thing about a good school has been care­fully thought out to foster safety, learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment for the stu­dents.

Even the dumb rules that my kid and I re­sented have a pur­pose. And the deeper pur­pose of rules in gen­eral is to ac­cul­tur­ate chil­dren to be re­spect­ful. The prob­lem with me and other par­ents like me is that, when we en­cour­age our kids to blow off the triv­ial or silly rules of their school, we tele­graph a clear mes­sage to our kids: “You can ig­nore school’s rules. We don’t re­spect them, so you don’t have to.” And then they don’t. But they don’t just dis­re­spect school’s silly rules.

Be­ing kids, they spe­cial­ize in driv­ing a truck through any and all loopholes that grown-ups of­fer them. Ado­les­cents es­pe­cially have great radar for sniff­ing out rules not up­held, and this al­lows them to dis­re­spect bound­aries in gen­eral. Which has two neg­a­tive reper­cus­sions. One, thanks to their not-yet-fully de­vel­oped frontal lobe, they suck at mak­ing good de­ci­sions about risk. They’re

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.