Friday, April 29, 2011


Love and Responsibility is the title of chapter 12 of Dr. Chapman's book, The Five Love Languages of Teenagers.The chapter highlights a few principles on responsibility.
  • Responsibility require boundaries
  • Your teenager needs to be a part of forming rules and setting consequences
  • The process of independence and responsibility must be lubricated with love
  • Rules that existed when your teen was a child cannot be arbitrarily carried into the teenage years
  • Rules about rules:
    • Have as few as possible
    • Make them clear
    • They need to be fair
  • Rules without consequences are less than worthless; they are confusing
    • Consequences should be determined before a violation
    • Consequences mush be administered with love
    • They must be consistent
  • Rules should exist in the following areas
    • Household opportunities (he says opportunities sounds more positive than duties - reminds me of my friend Kate)
    • Schoolwork
    • Use of Automobiles
    • Money Management
    • Dating
    • Alcohol and Drugs
I tell you this, because even though I am still sorting out for sure what my oldest's love language is (although I am pretty sure it is the same from his youth - Words of Affirmation... now need to be spoken with a different dialect then before) I need to jump ahead in my process a bit.

My son had a bit of a breakdown last night... we had a fight the other night as he was up at 11pm looking for a phone charger.  I repeatedly requested that he go to his room and be quiet.  It was late.. he had school the next day, and we all pay the price when he wanders the house all night.  He persisted and refused to go to bed.  It was creating a stir and I informed him that if he did not have a cell phone he would not have a problem - so perhaps the best solution is for him to not have the phone... as you can predict, I am sure, I turned off the phone.  As the evening progressed to after midnight more events transpired and he also lost his ipad (a toy he saved long for).

Quite frankly, I think these two things pushed him over the edge.  He is feeling tremendous pressure at school as he is failing his four main classes.  This is as a result of him putting forth a lack of effort since September.  Intellectually he does not struggle.

Last night he laid it all out to me... how horrible his life is.  He went into some detail about all the things that are bothering him.  He told me very simply that I was crazy to think he had the responsibility to get good grades.  He felt that should be optional and should not hold up the rest of his life.

From my reading I was armed and prepared with the eloquent statement that every freedom in life is tied to a responsibility.  He complained he had nothing.  Only a bed and clothing.  I reminded him he also had heat, food and shelter... things he should be grateful for as he may someday not experience those luxuries.. and they are indeed blessings.  I talked to him about the enormous amount of 'stuff' in our home.  The couch he was sitting on, the TV, the dishes, the silverware... everything we had provided us with a feeling of freedom.  But, EACH of those items was obtained as a result of responsibility by either me or his father.  Without being responsible, we could not have obtained these things.

I felt like over all the evening was handled well - I didn't flip out or say anything negative when he insisted he should not be accountable for school, home or church stuff.  I just listened.  I made sure I understood and I invited him to dinner tonight with me and my significant other.  I asked him to give some thought as to what he felt his responsibilities should be.  He is older now. 16.  He should be entrusted with more responsibility than a two year old or ten year old.  As we age our responsibility increases into adulthood.  I sent him to bed with some words of affirmation.

I woke up this morning feeling grateful.  A situation / conversation that could have driven a wedge... I hope has started to create understanding.

We'll see how dinner goes tonight.

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