@Quakindude; that was a very informative post. I can tell you honestly that I've came across little first-hand-experience records like that in some time, and it was fairly informative.
If possible, I'd like to remark upon a few things I read (I'm aware that that sounds self-important; think what you will); the need to find a simple and understandable explanation for why such a terrible thing happened to your brother-in-law is very understandable, but I myself know at least one other person whose parents have let him do whatever he wanted, and he's grown up as a relatively calm and well-rounded chemistry teacher. I'm sure that you yourself know of many people whose parenting was existent only on paper, and who managed to avoid pitfalls due to their own intellect. Post hoc ergo propter hoc, I'm afraid. An accumulation of negative circumstances seem to be a far more likely cause for your brother-in-law's mistakes. Although I admit, the parenting situation you've described is far from ideal, fail-safes are a necessity at such a turbulent time as adolescence.
I do not see you mentioning this, but the strongest rules are backed up by strong arugmentation, something I've hoped you've supplied, for, I'll admit, I have not fully analyzed the possible reprecussions of a fairly disciplined upbringing on a child, something that certainly appears to exist in your children's case, but intelligence and objectivity are nearly always superior to principles. I mean no disrespect, but I hope that you have not raised two self-righteous people who had to adhere to a cast-iron code of conduct since their adolescent years, who were consistently validated by their parents for following it, arguably the two most important figures in their life for at least 10 years, who carry over this self-validation and code to their adult life, where things are rather grey and fickle.
Without principles, there are no rules. Without rules governing society as a whole, we would still be beating the shit out of each other with spears and arrows, only the strong would rule and the "rules" would be based on the rulers personal whims. Thank God we've come a long ways from that here in the United States and other civilized countries. While not ideal, I'd rather live in our society than the Congo.
My children were allowed to make their cases in most situations. As long as they did so with respect, they were treated with respect. If they failed to show respect, they were treated like little kids who just didn't know better. Both of my kids learned very early on that if they were going to lie to us, they better get away with it because the punishment really sucked. Moving rocks from one pile to another, being the cleaning kid for the old couple down the street, for free....they were NOT allowed to be paid for it, or cutting grass for older folks....again, no pay...and loss of their bedroom door was a given when they lied. If they will lie about where they were, then how can I trust them to be behind a closed door in my house? They were allowed a shower curtain for when they were changing clothes, then the curtain was taken down and put away.
If they were going to argue a point with us, like somewhere they wanted to go unsupervised, they had best think long and hard about it and convince us of a few things:
1. Time, location and who and what activities.
2. When they would return.
3. How they were getting there and back.
4. Costs involved.
5. The type of activities they could anticipate being involved in or getting away from.
6. Last, but not least, check in times via cell phone. This one was not optional nor open for discussion.
Items one through five could be discussed, bartered for, an extra 30 minutes out to cut the grass the next morning, massaged or even allowed at all. My kids, once they had displayed enough maturity, ethics and respect, could get to do an awful lot of things as teens that others wouldn't. But at the same time, if I ever caught them lying or not quite telling the whole truth, it wouldn't be anything for me to walk into the middle of their little lake party that was supposed to have at least one adult supervising and zero drugs or alcohol, yet DID have an adult supervising the consumption of alcohol, and for me to take my kid home right then and there and call the cops on the kids parents that allowed it. Once my daughter turned 18, she was allowed to damned near come and go as she pleased because by then, she had developed a healthy respect for strong ethics, morals and beliefs. It is NOT ok as a parent to provide 16-20 year olds with alcohol. But you'd be amazed how many times parents did just that. Now, in College, my daughter is having a great time getting drunk at all the parties college kids like to go to. But you WILL NOT hear of her driving her car home and you can be sure as hell she has a pre-planned exit plan that gets her home safely.
You see, in my house, we never minded explaining to our kids why we felt the way we did about anything. We were very open and honest with them. "Well son, I know you want to go to the overnight fishing party, but two weeks ago you told me you were going to a certain place and it turned out you weren't there. So until you've refilled my 'trust bank', tough shit buddy."
If we ever told our kids, "NO, you can't do that and I'll explain it to you later", then our kids had best wait till later to find out why we decided that way. You can express your disappointment all you want, but if my wife asks you a question and you snap at her or get a sudden case of the dumb ass and get smart with her because you're pissed off, dad was going to stop the car and immediately address that situation with you. And you weren't going to win because at that point, it's a one sided conversation. Me to you. I'm teaching, you are shutting your face and learning.
Once, my then 16 year-old daughter came walking up the sidewalk 45 minutes late, with all of her friends. I was waiting in my customary spot, on the front porch. I asked, "Ryan, is there a good reason you're 45 minutes late and your phone has been busy all night?" She said, "Chill out dad. I was with my friends. I'll tell you about it tomorrow." You could just tell her friends were SO impressed with how she spoke to me. They were even more impressed when I walked up to her and put my finger in her face and said, "Don't say another word or move from THIS spot. I'll get back to you." I then started asking her friends questions. The second kid lied to me, I already knew where they had been of course....that's what a PARENT does is make sure their kids are safe in what they're doing.....and I told that kid not to show her face near my daughter again period. Or I'd let the MP's know she brought the weed. Thing is, you only have to do this a few times and then your kids are terrified of where you'll show up. So they tend not to put themselves into those places. And the one time I got "that feeling" again from my daughter about where she would be, my methods saved her from being raped and it also demonstrated to her just how angry her father could get. The guy lived of course, but he did need a week in the hospital before the police could put him in jail. Oh yeah....what did my daughter get when I came back to her? A nice little slap on the cheek for lying to me and treating me like she was the parent and then a month of cleaning up the wounded warriors barracks bathrooms....with my help and supervision of course.
My kids could change my mind in many circumstances as long as they argued intelligently, like someone who had done their research, and respectfully.
Kids think they know everything and what they don't know, they'll just pick up along the way. I've made sure that learning didn't kill them, or cause them to be raped, and in the end, after that initial year of rebellion, we developed a very good way of talking to each other. I'd let them do damned near anything they wanted from belly rings at 16 to tattoo's (decent, non-fadish small ones) at 17. They're smart our young kids and as long as I'm not being lied to, or lied to too largely, am informed and know who they are with, things got a lot easier for them. But basic home chores and school work ALWAYS came first, period. They never did win that disagreement.
I still say the best keylogger is an involved parent. But sometimes, even parents need a bit of help.