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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bridge on the River Teen

I knew it was coming, but it still took me by surprise when war broke out. It being 1996 instead of 1966, I thought I could avoid the bloodshed and misery that my parents and I went through, but I was fooling myself: what is old is new, and what is new is old.

The war between the United Federation of Father and The National Liberation Front of Daughter (NLFD) started with a treaty dispute. The treaty was: curfew was 9pm on school nights and 11pm on Friday and Saturday. Since I had crafted and negotiated the treaty myself, I thought conflict could be avoided.

Of course, I blame the NLFD for starting the war, but their leader, my daughter, claimed that the wording of the treaty was unclear, ambiguous, and unfair.

When the NLFD broke the treaty, words were exchanged: sometimes directly, and sometimes indirectly through my ambassador, my wife. I often responded to treaty violations with sanctions such as an earlier curfew, border closings, and travel restrictions. Since the leader of the NLFD valued her social life, sometimes a blockade was used to bring the NLFD into line.

There were many battles during the Teen War: The Car Clash, The Trip to Florida with Underage Friends Skirmish, and the final battle: the Most Expensive College I can Find Conflict.

Hostilities were greatly reduced when the leader of the NLFD left on a mission to obtain a higher education. In fact during this four year mission, the leader of the NLFD called upon my ambassador, my wife, and me for aid or assistance time and time again. Sometimes we helped with food because of some apparent famine. Other times, we acted like the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and provided funds that we knew would never be repaid. And for some reason, the NLFD didn't seem to have the technology to do laundry.
Eventually, hostilities ceased between our two countries. In fact, the United Federation of Father and The National Liberation Front of Daughter are allies now, and the NLFD was recently awarded favored nation status.

The truce came after certain milestones and understandings were reached. The Federation of Father gave advice only when the Liberation Front of Daughter asked for it. We were no longer propping up the NLFD financially. And the NFLD became truly independent in every sense of the word.

The Teen War lasted about three years. It was a time of sacrifice, hardship, and danger. At the beginning of hostilities, I was afraid the war would end badly, but we were lucky.
For those of you in the middle of a teen war, I have several suggestions. No matter what, be diplomatic and don't escalate the war. Tough love, not extreme punishment or retaliation, must be the basis of your foreign policy. It's helpful to have an effective ambassador (spouse). And remember, even the Hundred Years' War ended eventually.

(If you're a parent, you might enjoy some of the other titles I came up with for this article: A Father's War, Where Parents Dare, Teen! Teen! Teen!, All Quiet on the Teen Front, and The Longest Day).

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