My husband is a nationalized bank employee and was posted out of Bangalore in 2010 when our son was a month short of 14. Relocating to my husband’s place of work would mean dealing with innumerable problems including lack of good education facilities and the culture shock associated with staying in a tier II town. After considering all the factors, we decided that our son and I would continue at Bangalore.
Concerned relatives and friends told me horror stories of teenagers, especially boys, going astray when the father was not around to deal with them firmly. They also told me about the yelling matches they had with their teens which ended abruptly when the father stepped in. This set me thinking; can’t mothers be firm? Why do we still associate discipline among adolescents with a father’s authority? Is it because over the years, we women tend to succumb to pressure from our children sending out the message that we are easy game? This is true to some extent—mothers who have to put up with fractious kids for extended periods of time sometimes give way to avoid continuous conflict and the associated stress driving home the message that mom will yield if you ‘keep-at-it-long-enough’.
Why should there be a need for authority, I wondered? Isn’t a 14-year-old old enough to understand the difference between what is good for him and what is not? Even so, could we not talk things over amicably and arrive at a compromise, especially on matters concerning safety and health? Apparently not, as I found out to my cost.
• My son says he is hungry, but the hunger disappears mysteriously when presented with a wholesome south Indian meal, and reappears equally mysteriously when I suggest a takeaway/delivery. At such times, I have wondered if I should get him checked out for an eating disorder!
• He wants junk food everyday (preferably at every meal). I suggest that weekends are ideal for junk food as it would give me more time to prepare it. He is adamant that at least one meal a day should consist of yummy stuff (read junk).
• He decides to take to heart my advice on physical exercise and picks 9.30 pm as an appropriate time for a jog in the neighbourhood park (the lights go off at 9 pm). Also, he wants to take his house key, wallet, smartphone and headphones. I tell him this will attract the wrong kind of attention but he remains stubborn.