Specialized Educational Consultants | On Befriending Your Kids

A generation or two ago dads went to work, moms stayed home and kids lived in fear of adult reprimands and punishments. Today, with so many fragmented families, both parents working, and the expectation of immediate gratification, the parents have become more enmeshed with their children's lives. At the same time, we, as specialized educational consultants, see more teenagers acting out as well as in and needing structure rather than "stuff" like electronics, the latest fashions, and attitudes.

Perhaps out of guilt, perhaps due to giving their children what they feel they didn't have, the parents are joining in on their children's games, social life, even drugs. Today's teens are often called "entitled" and feel as if they can have whatever they wish and it is the parents' job to get it for them. As a specialized educational consultant for nearly a quarter century, I have watched parenting trends come and go along with the "diagnosis du jour" whether it is ADHD, Bipolar, borderline, or Aspergers. Parents are looking for answers, diagnoses, medications, quick fixes when very often if they just said no it could work miracles!

Therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers allow minimal amounts of clothing, electronics, and "stuff" and the students' rooms are kept tidy every day. There are clear rules and consequences around academics, residential life, and extracurricular activities. As parents we could learn some lessons from this by setting very clear rules, boundaries, and expectations with clear and consistent consequences when the teens do not step up to the plate. Of course, in a perfect world, all of this should start when the children are toddlers.

As specialized educational consultants, we often have to tell it straight - befriending your kids now can ironically alienate them in the future... and for a considerably longer duration. You need to specialize as a parent, not a friend.

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