The teenage years are tough for everyone, including the parents. As your children begin to grow into young adults before your eyes, they often go through some growing pains in the process. Often this includes attempting to assert their own independence, but it doesn’t always come out in the best way. After experiencing this with her son, this mom wrote a letter of tough love reminding her son that he was, in fact, not quite as grown and independent as he thinks.
Mom Writes Letter of Tough Love to Put Her Son in His Place
Most often when disciplining a disobedient teenager, parents resort to taking things away from them: TV, phone, new clothes, or hangouts with friends. Entirely fed up with the way her son had been behaving, a single mum who went by the name of Estella Havisham decided enough was enough. In 2015, she wrote a letter to her 13-year-old son Aaron, outlining that if he was going to continue to disrespect her authority, then he would have to start taking on more “adult” responsibilities.
Though some people have commented saying that perhaps she was a bit harsh, most are very supportive of her use of tough love. The letter, pictured below, certainly gave Aaron a quick dose of reality.
Since you seem to have forgotten that you are only 13 and I’m the parent, and that you won’t be controlled, I guess you will need to learn a lesson in independence. Also, as you threw in my face that you are making money now, it will be easier to buy back all the items I bought for you in the past. If you would like your lamp/lightbulbs or access to the internet, you will need to pay your share of costs:
Also you will need to empty the trash Mon, Wed & Friday as well as sweep and vacuum those days. You will need to keep your bathroom clean weekly, prepare your own meals and clean up after yourself. If you fail to do so I will charge you a $30 maid fee for every day I have to do it. If you decide you would rather be MY CHILD again instead of a roommate, we can negotiate terms.” (1)
Estella didn’t intend for the picture of the letter to go viral, in fact, she didn’t intend to post it publicly at all. She meant to just send it to a few family members. By the time she realized what had happened, she decided there was no reason to take it down, as it was inspiring other parents to give their unruly teenagers some much-needed tough love as well. (1)
How to Raise Kids to Be Respectful
Raising kids to be respectful and contributing members not just to your household, but to their communities and society as a whole, is no easy task. It certainly goes far beyond just giving tough love every once in a while.
Kids, no matter how old they are, need limits and expectations to be set and stuck to. This will help guide them to being self-disciplined in the future. For example, setting the precedent that no TV is allowed until all of their homework is finished will help them when they go off to college and they no longer have someone watching over their shoulder. (2, 4)
In addition to that, you must have a system in place to discipline your children when the rules you have established are not followed. A warning method, for instance, in which repercussions of their actions get progressively more strict. It is imperative that you are consistent with that system, no ifs, ands, or buts. If you discipline them for something one day and not another, the lesson behind the rules and ensuing discipline if they are broken is lost. (2, 4)
Reward Good Behavior
It’s easy to fall in a pattern of being on high alert for bad behavior to the point where good behavior goes unnoticed or at least appears to. Anytime you see your child or teen doing something good, be it treating someone with kindness, doing their chores without being asked, or offering to help out beyond what is typically expected of them, show your appreciation. (5)
A simple “thank you” goes a long way to your child feeling seen doing good things, not just when they mess up. If you can, extend that to “Thank you for clearing the table without being asked, it really makes my evening better.” or “That was so kind of you to hold the door for that person, I’m happy I have such a thoughtful daughter/son.” (5)
Your thank-yous’ can go beyond just words, as well. If when disciplining our children we tend to take things away, then we should reward them for doing something good. Again, these don’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Tell them to invite their best friend over for a sleepover, take them to the movies, let them get their ears pierced – little things that say “I see what you did, I appreciate it, and I want to reward you for it”. (5)