Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dear Supreme Court

Dear Supreme Court,

I know you are busy, I'm sorry to bother you, but I just have a quick parenting question. (Really this has nothing to do with recent events. Definitely not an oh so subtle attempt to voice my opinion) And since you mediate disputes...

You see, it's about my son, who, by the way, as a teenager, has the makings of a great lawyer since they are inexhaustible when fighting to get their own way. Anyway, my question is about my son and video games.

His argument is that he has the right to play as much as he wants and I should just trust that he'll take care of the other stuff he has to do.

My proposal is that he should have time limits on video games, and if he wants more time he can earn it by completing homework, doing extra chores, extra summer reading anything that contributes to the family and his future. The hope being that he sees the bigger picture of how he functions in the world both as an individual with specific beliefs and opinons and as part of a community that contributes to taking care of each other.

His counter argument is that he knows he needs to get his homework done and do his summer reading and that he'll do it when he wants to, and I should just leave him alone and trust his judgement. As to chores, they are not something that he believes he needs to do, but something that he believes I want him to do.

I know he has a good heart and knows basic right from wrong. I know he is passionate about what he believes is right and wrong, as most adolescents are. I also know that as an adolescent, he believes he knows everything, which may be the origin or result of this passion. I also know that as an adolescent he, ultimately, wants to get his way and will fight hard for that perceived right- to simply get what he wants.

I also know that he understands that there is pride in contributing to the family, that, in fact, contributing to take care of everyone ensures that he is also taking care of himself. That there is a victory in knowing that we as a whole are stronger because of his involvement in our comprehensive care. The victory may not be as instantly tangible as conquering the next round of Super Smash Brothers or League of Legends, it may require more work and compromising on points that are hard to concede. But I have seen him calmer, happier and prouder of himself when he discovers that he can do all of the stuff he has to do and still have plenty of freedom and time to do the things he wants to do.

So, here's my question: do I stick to what I know is ultimately best for him even though it is a rougher parenting road, or do I cave? I mean he's doing fine, and I guess as a mother, it historically is my job to put my needs secondary to his. And maybe if I cave on this, I will earn his favor. Maybe by letting him do whatever he wants, he will remember me fondly when I am old and need him to help take care of me. I scratch his back, he scratches mine. Right?

I mean, it's not like I'm opening the door for him to just demand whatever he wants whenever he wants it. It's not like he'll use this freedom to play as many video games as he wants to secure other privileges as well. People never do that. Right?

It's not like I'm telling him to just settle for what's good enough and that the potential for true humanity lies in the belief of every man for himself and that what he wants and believes is more important than finding a way to exist in his rights and beliefs while honoring the rights and beliefs of others. Right?

It's not like he's going to see this one decision as a validation to further his own agenda in the future or that it constitutes the right for him to make more self-serving demands as time goes by. Right?

Anyway, I know you've had to make a lot of decisions in your time. I know I've made far more missteps than you, some I'd certainly like to overturn. And I only have to negotiate with one other parent, there's nine of you who have to agree and agree to disagree time and again. And I know adolescent behavior is no comparison to the gravity of the cases and issues you arbitrate. But, I just thought if you had a moment to weigh in I'd love to hear what you think in the case of Carpenter v Carpenter: Can Freedom and Responsibility Co-habitate?

Thank you for your time.

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