Tony was notorious for wanting to stay up later than his bedtime allowed. At 12, he started a full-court press on Jennifer trying to get her to change his bedtime complaining that he was being treated like a little kid.
“Mom, you just don’t get it! Other kids my age don’t even have a standard bedtime. For heaven’s sake, I am in junior high!”
As Jennifer pondered the request, she replied. “You know, Tony. I realize that you are older and have a pretty rigorous schedule between basketball and homework. Let me talk to Dad first and see what we can come up with. Just remember, no promises here. One of the things I’m concerned about is the fact that you are having to get up earlier this year to get to the bus. I don’t want you to be so tired that you fall asleep in class.”
“Mom, you know that’s not going to happen.”
“Let me talk to Dad. I’ll get back to you by this weekend with a decision.”
Mark and Jennifer had learned to make changes slowly in their household. They realized from the Generations class they had taken that new rules needed to be negotiated and be able to be changed back if they weren’t working. The two decided to work out the details of the negotiation as they enjoyed the fall leaves walking through the neighborhood.
“So, Mark, what do you think we should ask Tony to do to earn the later bedtime?”
“Well, I would say that he has to continue getting up on his own and making it to the bus on time for starters. If he starts missing the bus, then I would definitely want to push the bedtime back to its current time. I would also tell him that we are going to monitor his attitude in the house. If he tends to be more argumentative with us or his siblings, I would say that it is probably because he isn’t getting enough sleep.”
“That sounds reasonable. Let’s say we give it two weeks and reassess? Maybe we try a half hour for the first week, if it works we’re willing to stretch it to an hour starting the second week?”
“Makes sense to me,” responded Mark.
On Saturday, Mark and Jennifer sat down with Tony along with their “notebook of rules”.
“Tony, I understand that you and your mom have been talking about moving your bedtime to later in the evening. You know, I think you have a valid point that you are growing up and you are right in that we need to start giving you more responsibility like a 12 year old. I’d like to give it a try to see if you can handle staying up later.”
Mark continued telling Tony the things that he and Jennifer had discussed.
“So you understand, right. We’ll give it a week at half an hour extension and in a week we’ll bump it to an hour. You can maintain that new bedtime assuming you can get up and get yourself to school on time and you aren’t more argumentative here at home. If you start missing the bus or your behavior changes here at home, bedtime reverts back to what it is now.”
“Agreed!” Tony happily responded.
“Sign your name here by the date where we negotiated the rules,” Jennifer handed the notebook of rules to Tony.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Negotiating new rules in the home can be an opportunity to increase your tweens and teens responsibility while showing them that you respect the fact that they are growing up. Through the negotiating process you not only validate their feelings, but you give them opportunity to succeed in the maturing process. Writing down the negotiation will keep both you and your child from being exasperated if the child doesn’t succeed at keeping up their end of the bargain.
“Let go…and let God,”
I’d love to hear how you’ll implement this new strategy in your home!