My Child No More

My oldest son, Nick, is 11.

And his life is at a crossroads.

In September he turns 12. And at that point, I feel, though he will always be my son, he will be my child no longer.

He’s going to be taking the subway, for one thing, to his new school.

So that’s gonna be a whole new deal.

And I guess my question there is: to what extent do I accede to his wishes, to what extent do I impose my wishes upon him?

His first choice was a particular school. It seemed sort of rough. Why do you want to go there, I asked him.

Because it’s across the street from a “Hi-Tech” (he answered), which is where he gets his game-boy cartridges, and a Taco Bell.

So at that point I thought OK, I’m going to take your comments into consideration, but obviously the final decision rests with me..

Now he wants to go to a particular school because a) it’s got a lot of sports teams b) all his friends are going there.

There’s another school I think may be better for him. Yes, they don’t have such good sports teams. But they have a sense of community, whenever I bump into kids from this particular school, they always seem great and fun and wonderful. But Nick has no interest in going there.

Should I force him, anyway? Do I know best or should I let him go where he wants? What would you do?

Some Tips As Below:

1. I am sure some will roast me for this . . . but I have happy, well adjusted kids who are learning to make decisions about their lives. So if you don’t agree with me, I am ok with that.

I have dilemmas with my kids, too. I have some general rules of thumb that I use for big issues like you mentioned.

1. I am the parent, so I get to win. When you are the parent, it’s your turn.

2. I have your best interest at heart, so I get to win. When you are the parent, it’s your turn.

3. I have more life experience than you do, and I know a thing or two because I am the parent, so I get to win. When you are the parent, …

The bottom line is that I am responsible for my kids. When they are responsible for themselves, they don’t have to do it my way. We do what we can to teach them how we make the decisions we do, in the hopes that they will make good ones for themselves.

I had to smile about the criteria your son used for his choice of school. My son would have done the same. My guy has just in the past year and a half found a group of friends that he has blossomed socially with. They call themselves “The Group”. For him, that was a very important factor in choosing which high school he went to.

My opinion about what you should do? What you think is best after you weigh all the factors for your child. While it may seem harsh to make him go to the ‘community minded school’, only you know if that will work for him. His community mindedness may only extend to current friends. It seems to me like you are looking at the big picture, and how your son fits into it. I think you will give him as much input as he should have, then enroll him in the best place for him to be.

2. Good friends (from childhood thru life) can be an amazing, encouraging, stabilizing force. I know for myself, and most of my friends, OUR FRIENDS have encouraged us to do great things in life (travel, opportunity, etc. Even one successful friend admits now she only went to university because all her friends were going! Thank God she did!). I hope my children have the same positive group of friends to enjoy life with.

That being said, negative friends (those who bring your kids down, skipping school etc) should not be supported.

It sounds like your kid has good friends (into sports, etc) Who knows maybe they’ll be the group that influences the school and has other parents wishing their kids could have the same type of attachments. The great thing with great friends is they’ll make the best of any situation.

3. You are about to lose your son to the peer group. Happens to us all as parents. That’s why it is absolutely essential that you take a long hard look at what that peer group is like. You cannot abdicate (sorry!) your responsibility as a parent in favor of a bright yet immature mind. When he is an adult he will be the first to come back and wonder why you didn’t choose in his best interest. We can listen to our kids and we can explain our decisions carefully but in the end we have to make them and we have to be responsible to the larger community as well as our children for them. Good luck!

4. Your son is at an important stage in his life, I have a twelve year old as well and now is the time where he can mature and take on responsibility or he can stagger and become far too reliant on his parents. Don’t discount his views or his opinions simply because of his age, you have an opportunity now to teach him that his opinion and his thoughts are valued. As a result, he will earn confidence in himself because his parents trusted him with an important choice and decision.

In respect to the school dilemma, this is his academic career and perhaps should be permitted to add his two cents, his input. Certainly, you are the one that ultimately decides, but he is the one that has to live with that decision.

The school you prefer appears to have a sense of community, but many of us have experienced what it feels like to be lonely in a crowd. It’s a crushing, limiting and segregating feeling. And let’s face it, already established communities they are sometimes hard to ease into and find your place.

His friends, his teammates, they are his community, for better or worse, they are the influences that will help mold him in his views and his beliefs. He has his own community already and therein lies the potential for him to thrive and strive for success.

But let’s face it, what it really comes down to is your gut instinct and what you think would be best for you son and his well being. I am facing a similar situation when my son is old enough to attend highschool. There are two in my community, one that I feel would be better for him and one that he wants to go to because of his friends, (incidently is the same one I went to, but has changed a great deal). All I can do is trust in my parenting skills and the tools I’ve given him, the lessons I’ve taught him. That’s a damned scary thing as a parent.

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