We are Parenting PIONEERS

“We” would be those of us who were the very first average citizens to log on to the new thing called aol.com back in the late 1990s on our clunky PCs. “We” are largely in our late 40s and early 50s with teenagers or young adult children. “We” are those who were the first parents EVER in world-history to hand our children their first flip phones.We are the pioneers parenting the electronic world. And, people, this has been no easy task.

When we were kids, our parents could lift up the receiver in another room to tell us to get off the phone because grandma was supposed to call. Now, teenagers are often alone, metal square in hand, laptop on the bed, tv screen above the bed, Xbox in the corner and wireless blue tooth speaker on the nightstand with no parental involvement at all. Social media and cell phones alone are two titanic, behemoth elements of parenting that make those of us middle-aged parents the PIONEERS of the world. We were and are expected to teach and manage these issues on top of our traditional parenting and vocational responsibilities.The 1970s-1980s kids we were (not all but most):

We couldn’t wait to get outside every day

Kids of parents who were not at our beck and call

Kids of parents who made us save money for our purchases

The 2000s kids we’re raising (not all but most):

Enjoy being indoors in front of a screen

Have parents at their beck and call…sports, activities, projects

Have parents who pay for their cell phones every monthI’ve previously posted a couple articles about these issues: How Long Can a Mom Monitor Kids’ Media? Is 17 years too long? :), and Teenage Privacy…Is it OK to spy on your teens’ texts? Internet history? Surf their social media? Yep!. There have been humorous moments managing these issues with my kids over the years (as you’ll read in those articles), but It Has Been Exhausting Being The Pioneer. The level of expectations has risen and we’ve fallen right into it.

We are not only pioneers of electronics but pioneers of “talks” that our parents never dreamed of having with us. After-school conversations regarding gender confusion and standing up for your faith yet being respectful of others are draining. All previous parenting generations throughout history had no such thoughts, let alone were forced to engage in ongoing dialogue of explanation and navigation. Add some social media management, and we just want to go take a nap. It all feels so overwhelming, many parents throw in the towel and just say, “it is what it is”.

Never in world-history have there been so many pressures upon parents. There have never been higher rates of teenage depression, street-drug use, pharmaceutical use, health issues related to teenage inactivity and one of the culprits of all of these: never in history has there been such an excessive, profound, uncontainable problem of teenagers comparing themselves with random internet photography. Whether Snapchat, Instagram, internet images of the Hollywood elites or the girl next door, these images are seldom real.Even when you inform kids that the actresses in movies and television have a 6-week prep ahead of body conditioning prior to every single award show and red-carpet event, followed by another week-long last minute prep including hours of hair, spray tanning and makeup, they still want, wish and crave to be the image. Battling this is a whole other article perhaps another time.

The next time you find yourself exhausted or sad or overwhelmed by the work required in raising a moral, responsible, thinking child, remind yourself that you’re not alone. It’s worth the effort to monitor, to question, to require verbal conversation and limit electronics.

There are millions of us out there who are walking the walk alongside you, being very unpopular at home when needed, running the race in faith and keeping our eye on the end result, not seeking the temporary ease of intentional ignorance.  Be strong, fellow pioneers! Someday your kids will be better off because of your involvement. 

 

 

Teenage Privacy…Is it OK to spy on your teens’ texts? Internet history? Surf their social media? Yep!

Is it okay to look through your kids’ bedroom drawers?
Read their texts?
Surf their internet history?

When my children first began high school, I had more interest and opportunity to do all of those things. They were still figuring out what was acceptable and what wasn’t. I was extremely attentive. I certainly didn’t check their computer histories, texts or drawers on a regular basis, but when I thought about it, or when something seemed suspicious, I certainly had no problem checking on all of it.

No, I didn’t feel bad about that at all! I didn’t feel as though I was invading their privacy and frankly, I thought of myself as far more responsible than those who refuse to check on their kids and live by the philosophy, “Kids are going to do what they are going to do”. Now that my twins are 19, I believe that is true. When they were only 13, there was still plenty of room and time to steer their moral ship.

If you’ve read much of my writing, you know I lean toward the “serious” in life and tend to way overthink anything related to raising kids. Surprisingly, this isn’t an issue I feel is too deep. I don’t believe for a second that there is any long-term damage done to a child whose Mom cares enough to peek in on their social media.

On the lighter side of this issue, I can’t help but think…

I’ve given up privacy for 19 years.

Just recently over Christmas break when my twins were home from college, I sat down on the toilet and sure enough, in two seconds there was a knock at the door followed by, “Mom?!”
Seriously? The boy just watched me walk in here!?

When I’m in the shower, there are still occasional knocks on the door by three grown teenagers. “Mom!! Do you know where the stapler went?”

My kids pick up my phone all the time.
They flip through my texts, look at my photos and check my email.
Not because they are “checking” on me. Really, they are just sitting at the counter. And, instead of just sitting—at—the—counter, they’ll pick up my phone. I don’t mind. I do however, around Christmas and birthdays, give fair warning that their gifts might be in the photos or email.

On a more serious note, in this very depraved society, for children that might be being bullied or sexually harassed or worse, isn’t it better to surf a few things out to see that everything is okay and they are not holding back something that could eventually harm them?