Dear Mrs. C:
Our son, ‘Waldo,’ is about to drive his Dad and me nuts. He is an OK kid, but lately has developed an attitude. For example, when we request that he help around the house, and have to remind him again and again, he sometimes says, ‘whatever.’ To us, this smacks of being disrespectful.
What would you suggest?
First of all, tell him that he’s lucky not to have had my Dad as his Dad. I would have been picking up my teeth off the floor (not really, just figuratively). Dad was a tall, strong Norwegian. Not to be messed with. Frankly, I wouldn’t have even dreamed of showing attitude. Survival, and all that.
Back to your Waldo. Sadly, I think social media, and even some movies (don’t get me wrong, I love to go to decent movies), have contributed to the lessening of respect towards adults, and authority figures in general.
Suggestion: Have a sit-down with Mr. IL (Inappropriate Lips). Share with him that you love him … and love him enough to insist that he be respectful. If he is not, I would say, “Waldo! Need to try that again. Mom reminded you to clean Fluffy and Fang’s poopy box three times now, and the air is starting to turn blue. Am not into wearing a gas mask around home. So, need you to complete that task now.”
If he delays at all, I would gently guide him towards the KPBR (kitties poopy-box room), and hand him the scooper and little plastic bag into which the items will be placed. Then thank him when he has completed the task. ‘Friendly suggestion, Waldo – this task needs to be completed every single day, in order to have acceptable air quality in our home.’ If he rolls his eyes, or looks stink-eye at you, ask him to ‘redo’ that last visual interaction. Disrespect can come in many forms, body language being one of them.
If he continues to be contrary, then I would lower the boom and snag his phone away until you see a pattern of cordial, respectful responses. Let him know exactly what you expect. “Waldo, darlin’, bye bye to your phone for the next week. If we see that you consistently respond to us courteously, then one week from today you will be reunited with your phone.” If he drives, that could also be leverage, but only if he doesn’t get the prior picture.
Hope this helps!
- Mrs. C
ELAINE CARLSON is a Buena High School counselor. Questions can be sent to her at email@example.com.