Teens and the 'home haven' hypocrisy

Are teens truly welcome to use our homes as safe havens?

By Peter Ehrlich

Most parents offer the same adage to their teenage children, that “their” home is their unconditional safe haven, the one and only place in the whole big wide world where they’re always welcome.

But if that time-worn homage was turned into a legal document for a parent and child to sign off on, I would suggest the child read the fine print first.

Why? Because too many teenagers are paying the price for their parent’s often own unsafe, peculiar, unrealistic or irrelevant set of values.

It’s these so-called values, the very kind that have resulted in Toronto’s own unfortunate lazy branding – “Toronto the Good” that make up the fine print that is resulting in disenfranchised teens.

Too often, too many teenagers are told not to actually bother coming home if they’re:

· Late

· Stoned

· Drunk

· Plan to bring their girlfriend or boyfriend home with them

· Plan to bring a platonic friend home with them who is compromised as well – e.g. late, drunk or stoned

In other words, don’t bother coming to the “unconditional” safety of your own home if you’re practicing the fine art of being a normal teenager; of attempting to find your way in the world, however clumsily.

Don’t bother coming home if you’re exploring and pushing your teenage boundaries or trying to do something to accommodate a testosterone or estrogen level that’s thirty-times higher than it was one or two years previous.”

What is the societal price we are paying for putting conditions on a teen’s ability to come back home?

Too many Toronto teens are:

· staying stoned at school as a way of dealing with their parent’s unrealistic teenage social contract – much the way a drunk needs to drink to ward off their own demons.

· ending up in the local police station at night because they weren’t allowed to come home and instead were caught doing something their own parents could have prevented from happening by taking away conditions for their safety.

· ending up “bunking” at their friend’s house on the floor on a school night because they were locked out of their own home.

· having sex in laneways and other grotty, filthy places, getting pregnant together because condoms aren’t at easy reach, but their relentless sex-drive is.

Wouldn’t it be better to allow sexually active teens to practice their own sexual truth in the safety of their private space in their home? They’re going to find a way with or without your permission. Why not give it, with conditions, and provide the safe haven they’re entitled to?

Tragically, there are the extreme examples of how some Ontario kids have paid the ultimate price for their parent’s self-focused home- haven conditions.

I don’t want to write up the specific stories of children who have died in some field or shapeless dark location, because it’s not worth the potential price of reminding someone who was part of the nightmare of the horror. For all intents and purposes, these parents died alongside their child.

If you believe that the one place your children should always find a safe haven is the sanctity and safety of your family dwelling, do your child a favour - forget the fine print, because there should be zero tolerance for your child’s safety.

[Back To My Writing]

[Back To Home]