An Anchoring Force in Our Kids' Lives

A good friend who works at an independent school in Massachusetts called me recently about a discipline case at his school. Two juniors, following an event on campus Saturday night, jumped into a car and sped off to a party. Unbeknownst to the kids, a local police squad spotted the car speeding and tailed the kids to the home of a senior. When the proverbial smoke cleared, two kids had been arrested, one ticketed with speeding, one taken to a local hospital for alcohol poisoning, and the parents – out of town at the time – were given a citation for serving alcohol to minors in their home. He took a deep breath and asked me for advice.

The first thing I said was that this is good news. After a long pause, he said, “Okay – in what way is this good news?” I responded, “No one was seriously hurt and you have a great learning opportunity in front of you”. He sounded skeptical, but he listened as I offered some advice.

In a world where social media can so easily magnify kids' sense of urgency to participate in every social activity, trying to remain a consistent, loving and anchoring force in our teens’ lives can be daunting. It can be tempting to “give in” to the demands of today’s teens with small concessions that overtime can turn us into more of a friend than a parent. But now, more than ever, our teens need parents. Our teens need to know that we love them and support them. They need to know that we have rules that are meant to keep them safe and that we won’t compromise on their health or safety. They need to know that in a world that is ever-changing, and at times frightening, we are steadfast in our love. They need to know that when temptation strikes and they plead with us to go to the latest party, we will keep our cool and remain consistent.

They need to know that when everything seems confusing, and everyone has a different point of view, we will stand firm and by their side. And when they stumble and fall, as they all will at times, we will pick them up and dust them off.

And then take away their phones.