Guest editorial

For parents

"I'll go if I want to, and you can't stop me!"

Strong emotions seemed to be gaining more of the upper hand each second. The teenager saw the issue in terms of freedom from parental authority and making decisions for himself. The parents saw the issue in terms of moral values needing to be instilled before relinquishing their "authority," in this case withholding permission to attend a party in someone's home where the parents were out of town and had not been asked for permission, and, incidentally, where alcohol would be served. Yet, the son's words were not simply the threat they were intended to be.

Looking back on the experience, I realize our son had also stated a fact. And I'm pretty sure the fact was far more disturbing to his mother and me than the threat. Because, with that statement, spewed out in the heat of the moment, we realized that, indeed, we no longer had the physical control over our son to prevent him from doing something we really didn't want him to do. To put it another way, after years of loving, nurturing, cherishing, protecting, teaching, and just plain caring for children, it can be hard, excruciatingly hard at times, for parents to realize they no longer have the direct control over their children which they once had. This realization can produce fear, anxiety, and frustration on the parents' side and anger and rebellion on the children's side. These conditions can lead to confrontations and arguments, and perhaps to broken relationships and broken families.

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Free indeed
April 9, 1990

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