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Monday, November 10, 2014

It is not about the iPhone, it is about discipline and responsibility!

Parent1: So, what are you going to do to show us you understand?
Middle School Teen: Well, as soon as I get home from school I will give you my iPhone and I can't get it back until I finish my homework.
Parent1: OK, let's see how that works for a while.
Parent2: (Thinking to himself) No! Not OK!  It is not about the iPhone. 

The above dialogue and subsequent non-verbal response by Parent2 occurred because of an incident with Middle School Teen.  This was the more subdued conversation at the end of about a week of having his iPhone locked away.  It began because he had his phone taken away by his teacher for using it in class but he also lied to Parent1 and Parent2 about finishing all his homework so he could watch TV and later was caught because he was ratted out by a different teacher who sent a note home (thank you).  He promptly had his iPhone privileges revoked and was told that he has to discuss what he did with Parent1 before he would get it back.  It took a week for Middle School Teen to summon the courage to talk to Parent1 (see dialogue above) and he now has his iPhone back, for which he is greatly appreciative.

So what is the problem with Parent2?  Middle School Teen was appropriately disciplined for misuse of technology and now learned that screen time is not a right but a privilege.  Case closed, let's move on. The problem is that the suggested solution by Middle School Teen seems to address the symptom rather than the disease.  The real issue here is whether Middle School Teen understands that he needs to be responsible and self-disciplined.  Our kids have one main responsibility growing up (as it refers to their future careers anyway), they need to concentrate at school and learn to manage their time so that homework is completed and they are ready for whatever tests and quizzes are coming up.  From age 6 to 22 their job is going to school.  We don't normally put our kids to work in the fields these days or force them to earn their keep in the local textile factory.  Responsibility means that even if Mom or Dad does not remind him to do his homework, he will break out the books and get it done.  Discipline means that they will do the hard things first and get them out of the way, they will not put off the big project until the last day because they want to play games or watch TV.

Yes, these are high expectations that adults fail at on a daily basis but we still need to do what we can to encourage the right habits in our kids.  These are the same habits that will eventually serve them well in their careers.  Maybe we should try to set the right example?

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