The opposite of red is not blue. The opposite of dog is not cat. The opposite of Dartmouth is not Colby. And the opposite of hyper-controlling authoritarian parents is not bourgeois-decadent, spoiled rotten, out of control, snotty-nosed, non-compliant kids who expect to make a lot of money in their first job out of college but want to express their individuality by not getting in to work before ten.
False dichotomies set up "choices" that are anything but: "If I don't force my son to do his homework, he will attend a second tier college, marry a woman living in a trailer, and develop a predilection for domestic vintages."
Nah. If homework compliance is a gut-churning, high-decibel, power and control debacle in your house, something is already seriously out of whack somewhere. To get your family back IN whack, you may wish to prepare the ground in which you wish your children to take root. First and foremost, you have to eliminate all the screens. Not just violent video games. Not just Internet pornography. Even smart phones are a nightmare. Especially smart phones.
And don't even tell me that your 12-year-old daughter needs a smart phone for communication, that you want to be able to get in touch with her. Liar, liar, pants on fire. If arranging the after school pick up were the issue, she would have a flip-phone not a smart phone. Communication via flip-phones about soccer practice functions just fine, thank you very much, without concomitant exposure to graphic videos that would make James Bond blush.
The research is unequivocal: Time on smart phones correlates with unhappiness. Let me repeat that. The more time adolescents spend connected to social media, the less happy they are. Here's the link
to a million-dollar study out of San Diego State University confirming what all parents already knew in our hearts.
"But if I take away her smart phone, she will pitch a thermonuclear fit. There will not be peace in the home. Aren't you always writing about how important it is to get along with our kids?" Meh. Quintessential false dichotomy. It's not take away the phone OR have peace in your home. Both are possible. Indeed both are likely. But parents have to step up and do the hard work. Yes, she will be miserable short term without her smart phone. Long-range she would be more miserable with it. Her FOMO (fear of missing out) never abates. She thinks "one more text" will resolve all issues. In reality every communication begets Hydra-headed offspring. There is no "last text." Small wonder she has trouble focusing on her academics. Who wants to read Pride and Prejudice
--a book of infinite subtlety--when what Stacey said to Mandy about what Tracey thought Andrea said about Katy is constantly available.
Your job as a parent is to make the tough calls. Expect excellence by severely limiting electronics. Expect happiness by doing the same. Because the opposite of high expectations is not sadness. To the contrary, high expectations mixed with love and limit setting makes for a happy home and successful, content children.