Compliance is a Choice

Parents of young children tend to place a high value on compliance; they just want their children to do as they are told. Now, this is a great idea. Raising obedient children was all the rage for many centuries, and hey, what could be so bad? Well, for better or for worse, that has changed and children no longer fear the consequences of saying no to or ignoring parental requests.

Fast forward a few decades and a few developmental milestones, and we reach the age of the millennial adolescent. Not only do the teens of the digital age not care about pleasing you so much, but they far outrank you in their ability to navigate a rapidly changing society. Parents are often left confused by this shift, unsure how to approach the concept of compliance when, seriously, all they want is for their teens to do as they are told.

Well, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is, your teens are not all that likely to comply with your requests, at least, not for the reasons you might have done what your parents/teachers/elders told you to way back in the days before computers.

The good news is, there are ways to get what you want from your teens. Other ways.

Some parents of teens bemoan the absence of rules in today’s society. The truth is that the world your teens live in does have rules. The digital world is run by rules. Binary rules, with clear consequences at every turn. Keeping that in mind, try to think of gaining your teen’s cooperation as a computer programmer might. Point out that there is a set of choices they must make, and each choice carries its own consequence.

Want to call your friend? Dial the number. If you get one number wrong, you call someone else.

Want to get into the college of your choice? Study more. Want to buy games, go to movies, etc.? Earn more money.

Want to maintain the privilege of being a member in good standing of the household? Contribute by washing dishes, cooking dinner, whatever it takes. Any task you want completed can be presented as a series of choices. Once you roll it out that way, they are likely to make the choice that most benefits them. And yes, even if all they want is your love.

So, parents, don’t lose heart. You might not get very far with “Because I said so!” but there are ways to get your message across. Try SnapChat.

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