The Back To School Contract

Want your teens to become perfect little angels who never argue and do everything you tell them to do? Yes? Then don’t have children.

But. The contract below will get you closer to that lack of reality.

With just one week left until school starts, we will begin the mad dash of getting the paperwork filled out, school supplies and clothes purchased, wrangling the kids back into a decent bedtime and MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, the Back to School Contract.

Hear angels singing? You won’t. It isn’t that great, but it’s REALLY REALLY good.?? If you don’t have a BTS Contract or as we like to refer to it, a Zip It Contract, you are in for a treat. The sole purpose of the contract is to say ZIP IT to your sanity sucking tweens and teens when they start to get feisty.

For example, they might say, “I can’t believe we have to go to bed, it’s only 10:00.”

You will point to the contract hanging on your family board, take a slow sip of my wine, turn to your teen and with a June Cleaver smile say, “Remember sweetie, you signed the contract.” In other words? “Zip it.”

If you DIDN’T have the contract, the conversation would have gone like this, “I can’t believe we have to go to bed, it’s only 10:00.”

You would begin with, “It is a school night and you need to get sleep to be smart and grow.”

They would say, “But why? All my friends stay up until 11:30 and they are ALL smart and tall?”

Then something so awful, so disgustingly your mother, would come flying out of your mouth, “IF ALL YOUR FRIENDS JUMPED OFF A BRIDGE”…you get the point. *shivers*

Thirty minutes later you would still be arguing and the whole thing would end with an eye roll, some comment about what an uncool mom you are and your teen slamming their bedroom door in your face. 

*downs the rest of her wine*

Instead? Zip it.

Below is a copy of our Back to School Contract: 

Ooph Back To School Contract

Final Notes:

We all sign the agreement and while it doesn’t alleviate every argument and certainly doesn’t even slightly curb the eye rolls, it gets rid of most disagreements and shortens the others. 

A quick reminder that my smiling face is all they will see all weekend and let’s just say they empty that dishwasher with an enthusiasm that rivals a kindergarten room mom.

Helpful Hint: 
Instead of getting annoyed with my teens’ eye rolls, I play a game in my head. I used to be a champion eye roller when I was a teen. So? I grade their eye rolls. One being the worst and ten being the best. Bonus points if they fling their head back at the same time. Sometimes I shout it out to them, “Nice. That was totally a nine,” and other times I keep it to myself. Either way? It makes me laugh instead of scream. You’re welcome.




  1. says

    OMG, I LOVE your blog! I have been cracking up and totally relating to every post I’ve ready so far! And to think, I’m really just getting started with the teen years!

    I will definitely be back for more!

    • Wow says

      Because nothing says ‘mature parent’ like shooting back the same snarky nonsense that your child is giving you. Letting them know you don’t like their attitude by giving them the same attitude – right on! You sure showed them!

  2. jenn says

    I have seen you post about this contract before and thought I did not need it. This year, one week in to school I am here printing it out. I have 3 kids in 3 schools plus after school activities. This momma is done doing it all. Love the eye rolling comment and I will now judge my teens …

  3. rebecca says

    Because nothing says ‘Happy, well adjusted family’ like contractually stifling your kids.
    You will point to the contract hanging on your family board, take a slow sip of my wine, turn to your teen and with a June Cleaver smile say, “Remember sweetie, you signed the contract.” In other words? “Zip it.”
    “Remember that contract you had no choice to sign because I control every aspect of your food, shelter, entertainment, finances and transportation?”
    You would begin with, “It is a school night and you need to get sleep to be smart and grow.”
    Because no parent in the history of ever has come up with a better argument than this.
    Well, you COULD always point out that they’ll have a better day at school if they’re well rested, and cite that time they DID stay up late and it was awful, but NAH! Old wive’s tales that are demonstrably false all the way!
    Now, as for the contract itself…
    I’m not contract lawyer, but… aren’t contracts supposed to clearly outline the responsibilities of BOTH parties? So… the child is expected to follow all these specific rules (I suppose tailored to the family specifications? Or are these The Only Parenting Rules Possible?) for the reward of ‘Spending time chilling with your friends on the weekend’.

    It also implies that if the kids do NOT sign the contract, they are on LOCKDOWN. Essentially “Sign this or be grounded.” The contract is meant to forestall argument about the rules, but if the kids have no input on the rules, no choice on signing the contract, and no way to appeal (Because that would fall under the ‘Zip it’ clause) then is this formalized tyranny.
    While I’m not claiming a parent-child relationship should be democratic by any means, I’m not sure teaching our kids about fair play and treating others with respect and responsibility is served by contractual bullying, smugness and alcohol.

    Bonus points, minors aren’t allowed to legally sign contracts, null and void baby.

    • Reno says

      Good parents do not need a so-called “contract” for their children. I found this entire post offensive and insulting, and appears to have been written by a control freak. Good grief.

        • Reno says

          I really hope you’re reading that thread, Stephanie. I really hope you’re reading it and gaining some solid insight into why this is a bad idea. I feel sorry for your children.

          “The sole purpose of the contract is to say ZIP IT to your sanity sucking tweens and teens when they start to get feisty.”

          This brought back some really, really bad memories of me and my narcissistic mother. She never allowed me to assert myself, never allowed me to even talk about my problems, never allowed me to ask her WHY she was doing something. I had horrible self-esteem for years.

          “You will point to the contract hanging on your family board, take a slow sip of my wine, turn to your teen and with a June Cleaver smile say, “Remember sweetie, you signed the contract.” In other words? “Zip it.””

          Bad sentence structure. Couldn’t help putting yourself into your readers’ lives, could you?

          I feel so sorry for your children.

  4. Sarah says

    If you treat your child like a toddler, instead of engaging in discussion with them, they will act like a toddler. Having a “zip-it” policy is a cop out instead of establishing a healthy dialogue between parent and child. As someone else has already pointed out, your child has no choice but to sign this contract, making it a silly idea.

    As for the eyeroll response, responding to something childish in an even more childish way acts only to evoke an even more elevated response from your child.

    • Reno says

      Exactly. The eyeroll thing just sounds like something a snarky teenager would do. Ignoring it is the best way to go.

      So, Stephanie, inventor of this brilliant contract, what are YOUR contractually obligated duties to your children during this time? What? You didn’t draw one up for yourself? Well, how lovely for you, then.

  5. Allison Brent says

    Looks like you’ve got it all figured out! Sounds like you have a stellar recipe for creating adults who lack the ability to be assertive, make important decisions, and employ critical thinking and reasoning skills. I’m sure this contract will also come in handy when they continue to live in your basement well into their 40s, since they will be unable to handle any independence as a result of your failure to give them any opportunities to practice it.

  6. Jordan says

    Well, I can only speak for my family, our son is finishing his senior year of high school and we pretty much allow him to do what he wants. So far he has gotten mostly A’s for grades, there has been one or two stray B’s mixed in.

    His sophomore year, he got sick 1/2 way through and was hospitalized for two weeks right and mid-terms. He made up the work on his own and finished with a 4.0 that year.

    Last year he took 2nd in state in debate. It would have been first, but there was some judging hijinks going on. They went on to compete at the national level.

    Oh, and we never once asked him to sign a contract. He does his chores because we ask him to. Nicely. He’s our son. Not our slave. And if he wants to stay up until 2:00 AM playing League of Legends in his computer while still making the bus at 8:00 AM without us even being home because we go to work earlier than that then more power to him.

    You’ll never know what your kids are capable of on their own because you simply will not allow it.

    • Brendan says

      Take it from someone who was, for lack of a better term, stifled during his pre-college years, when I went to college I just didn’t know what to do or how to behave responsibly because there was no one telling me what I should or shouldn’t do.

      • Reno says

        Good parents give their children guidance. They do NOT control every aspect of their kids’ lives. I’m sure Jordan gave his/her son plenty of positive reinforcement and guidance so that he could make sound decisions. They just allowed him the freedom to make those choices. What Stephanie, the contract maker, has done here is removed all ability to make those choices becuase she wants to control every aspect of their lives.

  7. Jill says

    It is very unfortunate to me that you feel the need to control every aspect of your children’s lives. Instead of encouraging them to become assertive, critical minded independent thinkers you are destroying their potential for your own convenience.

    As someone with a Masters in Psychology, I am utterly horrified at the potential damage this will cause to their psychological development during this crucial time of their lives. The connections to the frontal lobe, the complex processing and formal thought part of the brain, are just starting to connect at this age and by preventing them from thinking for themselves and making mistakes, these neural connections simply will never come to fruition.

    Congratulations on putting your own selfish priorities above your children’s future ability to function as an assertive, inquisitive, and confident adult. I’m sure you’ll be glad of it in the long run.

    Although judging by your juvenile eye rolling ‘hint’, perhaps you aren’t to blame. Maybe the reason you are a selfish and thoughtless automaton with no ability to foresee the devastating effects your actions will have is because your parents treated you the same way.

    I sincerely wish your children well.

    But you…you, are a bitch.

  8. control freak survivor says

    Parents like you are why therapists exist. Jesus Christ – if you want your children to hate you for the rest of your life, follow the advice that control freak put in her article.

  9. Hannah says

    This is awful. Just awful. How would you feel if this was the way your boss at work treated you?

    What if your boss drafted up a contract to ensure you spend more hours at work, your lunch time must be spent in a particular place, you’re only allowed to eat and one bathroom trip, then the rest of your lunch will be spent sitting in silence contemplating the fascism that’s ruling your life at work?

    Only then imagine that’s all you have, you LIVE in that world, you can’t go home to escape. You have to sign the contract or you’ll get fired and have no money to support your “family” (I put that in brackets because if you do treat them like this, I don’t believe they will see you as family for long).

    You are going to absolutely mess up your children, and they are not going to want to have contact with you in the future. I know I would cut off contact with my mother if she behaved anything like you. Monster.

  10. Feuhorbe says

    4 hours of video games a week? I don’t think they know what video games are except they’re something kids enjoy and therefore mustn’t be good for them.

    Also, do they not realize you can watch TV and play video games on the computer?

  11. Ashley says

    This is bad parenting, plain and simple. You might think it funny, but you are doing a huge disservice to your children. It’s overly involved, helicopter parenting, and your kids may need therapy in the future because they cannot be independent thinkers. I won’t go so far as to say you are an abusive mom, but you are certainly putting your selfish desires above your kids’ well-being. Reading this made me feel sick.

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