The Flip Side

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Dear Dharma,

I’m in the final few years of high school and find myself in a peculiar situation. I feel like my parents are putting more effort into being my friend than being the responsible adult role models that they are supposed to be. While most people my age wouldn’t think of this as a problem at all, I find that I am really struggling with it.

I have no curfew, I have no homework check, I have no restrictions on social media.  I’m honestly jealous of my friends that do.

At this point in my life when everything is changing all at once, I need them to keep me grounded and focused. I need someone to expect that I will achieve good grades and apply to college.  While I love having a great relationship with both of them, how do I express my needs without offending them?

Thanks,

Can’t Believe I’m Complaining

Dear Believe,

Wow – this is a refreshing question. So interesting to catch a glimpse of the other side of this new “parenting” phenomenon…

Kids need boundaries.  That’s how they learn.  It’s the parent’s job to set them and the kid’s job to push them.  They learn what’s appropriate when the parent steps in and says enough’s enough.

Without that stop in place, how would we ever know we’ve crossed a line?

Learning these lessons as children helps us become respectful and responsible adults – and you may have noticed there are less and less of those in the world these days.

However, you sound like you may have arrived there in spite of lacking these boundaries and parental guidance.  Your letter in itself speaks volumes to that notion.

If you are already well into your high school years, I don’t know if I think your parents are the ones who are going to give you what you need.  If they could, I suspect they would have by now.

Of course, you can try talking to them about it, but it could very well be a switch in personality type they just aren’t capable of.

But to be fair…

I’m not really giving them the benefit of the doubt, though, so my advice would be to make that your first step.

Tell them exactly what you said to me – that it would really help if you felt accountable to them for your grades and performance in school, and would really love to have their input and assistance when it comes to getting ready for college.  Don’t tell them they suck as parents.  🙂  Be really clear about what it is you need and see what they do with that.

It could be that you are just doing so well that they don’t feel the need to put these boundaries in place.  You should be so proud of the type of person you’ve already turned out to be.

If for whatever reason, they aren’t able to step up to this new way of parenting, do you have counsellor or teacher at school you could turn to as a mentor?  Someone you could report to on a regular basis and could help keep you on track?

I imagine either one of those positions would be honoured to have you make that request of them – kind of their dream come true, really…

Give any of these people the opportunity to support you and I think you will be pleased with the results.  Good luck, and I would love to hear how this evolves…

Dharma

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