Rabbi Ross. This might seem like a silly question, but I can’t get my teenager out of bed in the morning. My husband leaves to work early, and I have to nag, yell and argue to get a 14-year-old off his bed. It doesn’t matter if it’s Shabbos or a school day, it’s always a battle. He consistently comes late to Shacharis, if at all, and I’m really annoyed. Any ideas? Sarah – 5 Towns
I don’t think this is a silly question at all. On the contrary, this highlights a very important issue – namely, the responsibilities of high schools. As we all know, parenting can be a difficult task at times, and we try to avoid as many battles as possible. I understand Shabbos being an issue, but why isn’t the Yeshiva making a bigger deal of it on school days?
That’s the job of a good Yeshiva – to fight the battles that parents shouldn’t have to. When your son comes in late, his Rebbe should make a big deal about it, and he should be given a serious consequence. The ultimate goal would be that your son should come to you for help. Something along the lines of, “Mommy, can you please make sure I’m up on time in the morning?”
If the Yeshiva isn’t taking the initiative, call up the Rebbe. Let him know that you need him to help with this battle. If he’s not up to the task, involve the administration. Your tuition dollars should be working for you here.
There are some other things to think about as well. Is your son getting enough sleep? In a previous article, we discussed the importance of a good night’s sleep. You need to figure out when he’s going to bed and if he’s actually going to sleep. He should be getting a minimum of eight hours a night, possibly more.
If he’s not going to sleep on time, you need to figure out why not. Is he playing on an electronic device? Take it away at night. Is he up late doing school work? (Yes, I put that second for a reason!) See if you can get his homework load reduced. If he’s just “Chillin”, (I’ve heard that from a few boys already), make it clear that in order to “Chill” he must be able to get up on time.
Another way to get a teenager up, is in stages. If he needs to be up at 6:30, go into his room at 6:00 and open the shades. Leave the door open. At 6:15, turn on the lights, and move some clothing off the floor. If there’s no clothing on the floor, congratulations – you won that part of the game! With this approach, he’ll already be out of a deep sleep when the alarm goes off. It’s also important that the alarm clock is loud enough to be irritating, and far enough away from his bed that he needs to get up to snooze it.
In any case, on Shabbos morning (and every other morning if necessary), you can engage the sleep rule. If you child gets up late, explain to him that it must mean that he needs more sleep. As a result, his bedtime must be earlier. Obviously this will only work until a certain age.
Ideally, though, teenagers should be expected to get themselves up and ready in the morning, without help. Try explaining it to them in the following manner. If your son wants to be treated as a mature adult and be given the freedom to choose when he goes to sleep, then he must be mature enough to be able to wake himself up in the morning. If he needs parental help with morning wake -up, then it would seem that he needs parental help with going to sleep as well.
Most importantly, remember to choose your battles. There’s no reason to destroy your relationship with your son over this. Many kids go through the phase of not getting out of bed on time. This too shall pass. Hatzlacha!
Rabbi Yitzie Ross is a Rebbe and has been working with parents and kids for many years. You can read more about him in the "about" section.