Today is one of those days where my hands are shaking with craze to write this blog. Forgive me if I step on toes or offend anyone, but I’m simply starting a conversation and being transparent in my thinking as I do.
As much as kids are very needy and dependent and can sometimes make you go bonkers with the continuous wants that they have (x4 in our case), I find myself , more than ever, appreciating the experience of witnessing these humans grow and learn. It’s fascinating actually. I remember being certain ages and having the complex thoughts I see them having and wondering if I was the only one questioning the planet and our existence the way that I did. And now I listen to my children trying to solve small problems and even bigger world problems with their magnificent evolving brains.
My admiration for our kids and for people in general and the life experience we each uniquely have continues to grow and with that my want and need to protect children grows stronger. So, I’ve
become remain, dare I say… Judgmental. Sorry. I could be polite and say I don’t judge, but there are situations and behaviors that I most definitely critique. There are some cases in which, no more information is needed to have an opinion. Action was made, and thus my verdict.
We’ve got a teen in middle school and we’ve got two more kids entering next year. Having friends with kids already there, teachers who work there and students who spill the beans, I’m hearing a lot of things going on that make me really worried. But, guess what? It went on in my school as well and at the same age. I was too scared to ever participate. Part personality and part my parents. A great combination.
I’m not surprised about what I hear. Instead, I find myself surprised that some parents are turning their heads and avoiding the conversations with their kids. Their response to the issues of Internet safety, sexting, smoking/doing drugs in the bathrooms, sex in the stalls, seeing and sharing inappropriate content, social networking and revealing too much etc. is…. “They’re going to see it anyway.”
And so I judge. I judge because to me it’s a sign of laziness. And laziness on important matters really gets on my nerves. Perhaps when these children become adults and they are paying for their own Internet service and cell phones, they can be responsible for how they handle what they are exposed to. But, what about children? Are you really okay with your 7,8,10,12,13 year olds seeing whatever Google pulls up for them? Are you okay with your daughters revealing themselves on social media sites to potential predators? Even when they are legally not of age to have an account on those sites? Are you feeling so uncomfortable and awkward about having the conversation with your kids about sex that you’ll just simply avoid it?
I’m even more surprised when this response comes from the parents who themselves, have gone through their own struggle, be it bullying, sexual assault, teen pregnancy, abortion, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual harassment etc.. And in typical Summer blogging style, I wouldn’t write about it unless I saw it first hand. So I wonder… if it wasn’t okay for you to have exposure too young and it wasn’t okay for you to be put in precarious situations that resulted in an assault then why is it okay now? Why wouldn’t you take the extra step to educate yourself on Internet safety, teach your children about over exposure on the Internet and even just in everyday life?
This isn’t me shaming technology. You couldn’t find a bigger fan of technology than me. And if anyone wants to expose their children to the potential we have to solve problems and make the world a better place due to the exponential technologies and intense growth of innovation, it’s me. But, with this expansion comes the ability to make everything discoverable to anyone who asks. And it makes being a parent today that much more challenging. While we have technology to help make tasks easier, we are moving so rapidly that we forget our children are still children. Just because they can repeat something they’ve heard from a friend, movie or YouTube video, doesn’t mean they know what it means. Sure, they can do more things than we could at their age, but that doesn’t mean their emotional and sexual maturity level is nearly matched. There is still relationship. There is responsibility. There is value. There is still the lesson of making choices and having consequences. Letting them watch whatever they want, or play on devices without any sort of supervision or moderating and just “trusting” that they are a good kid and they can handle it, is completely ignorant to me and oh so dangerous. The sad part is that the child will be the victim before the parent has to even deal with the consequence that comes from it.
There’s enough going on, at least where we live, that ignorance or the way you were brought up really isn’t much of an excuse. There is knowledge out there to make each of us aware. You would have to be living under a rock to not know.
When the appropriate age comes, I want my children to embrace who they are and that will include, but not be limited to, their sexuality. As much as I want my children to own their unique style, have confidence in who they are and flaunt what is fabulous about them, there is a limit. I cringe when I see elementary age girls, at school, loaded with make up, wearing shorts that barely cover their underwear making duck kiss faces into the camera to post on their Instagram account with the hope of getting likes and shares for how pretty they look.
But, there are many of you that will say they should be able to do that. It’s just fun. They should be able to do that without some a**hole trying to take advantage of her. And I couldn’t agree more. Wouldn’t that be nice? But, the truth of the matter is – that a**hole exists and what message are we sending to our girls when they think that that is the way to be cool? Come on, we know the difference between silly fun pictures and those showing off. Do we not? Why poke the predator? Why can’t we teach them early on that unfortunately, bad people exist and here are some things you need to be aware of to protect you from it?
Our life experience is so valuable. We will fall and fail many times and we will rejoice and celebrate as well. I’m not trying to shelter and keep my children hidden from the real world and the natural journey of life, I just want to do my job as a parent. Guide and protect. And most importantly… love.
What are your thoughts? I can’t promise I won’t judge.