Q: My 16-year-old son refuses to wear his glasses. For the past two years, I have offered to get him contact lenses for his birthday, but he has refused. He will be driving soon, so I told him that if he didn’t wear his new glasses, which are less than a month old, he would have to reimburse me for them. He says he hates them and wants contacts. Furthermore, he is willing to pay for them himself out of his savings. Should I let him get the contacts or should I make him pay me for the glasses first?
A: Under the circumstances, which are that he has had ample opportunity to accept your offer to pay for contacts, he should most definitely reimburse you for the last pair of glasses you bought him before he is allowed to purchase contacts for himself, and he most definitely should shoulder this responsibility. And don’t let him drive until he does.
Q: Our 16-year-old son is respectful to our faces. He does what he is told and is generally a good kid. On a number of occasions, I have overheard him speaking with his friends or girlfriend on the phone and he is horribly disrespectful concerning my husband and me. He mocks us, tells one-sided stories about us, and has even outright lied about us. I can’t call him on it since I’m listening to his conversations, but I’m in a quandary. Should we simply chalk his disrespect up to youth and be glad he is respectful to our faces or should we do something about it? If so, what?
A: Indeed, you are in a quandary. First, I do not recommend covert operations against a child – listening in on conversations, searching the child’s room, and the like – unless said child has given his parents clear reason to believe he is engaged in self-destructive covert operations. By this standard, you should not have been listening in on your son’s phone conversations.
Second, in light of the fact that he is a generally good kid who is respectful to you one-on-one, I would chalk his phone disrespect up to the need to “Keep up with the Joneses” – his peers. His friends are disrespecting their parents, so in order to rise to their standard of “cool,” he has to come up with outrageous, libelous stuff concerning you (even if he has to cut said stuff out of whole cloth). His friends are victims of completely “out of it” parents, so he has to be a victim too. This is the standard teenage soap opera, nothing more. I encourage you to give it no significance whatsoever. I also encourage you to stop the covert operations, for your own peace of mind if nothing else.
Q: Because of some grade problems, our two teenage boys were told to stay on campus for lunch in order to catch up on their studying. We found a suspicious receipt, so we decided to set up a sting. After they drove off during lunch hour, we parked in their dedicated parking place. When they returned, there we were! They lost all privileges, including their car and cell phones. That was nine weeks ago. During their period of penance, they’ve been as perfect as imperfect can be. I am ready to begin restoring their privileges, one at a time, but my husband disagrees. He wants to stretch it out, maybe even through the summer. What say you?
A: I hate to get in the middle of squabbles between spouses, and when I make exception, I rarely side with the husband. That is the consequence of the excellent training I have received from my wife over the years. Therefore, I agree with you. I think you two have made your point, and I further think your sons have properly absorbed it. It’s time to let them know how magnanimous and forgiving you can be.