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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Parenting 101- Is this a pass or fail course?

Good Parent or Bad?  Both??

So it occurs to me we (parents) know too much.  And they (kids) don't know shit.

Groundbreaking, right?

That is, we now have to be cyber sleuths.  Over the past few months my household has been immersed in internet and social media tutorials.  We have to learn what oovoo is.  We have to follow everyone on Instagram.  Worst of all we have to learn the intricacies that are Snapchat.  Images "disappear" after a few seconds?  Could this site be used for anything but evil?  How many genitalia shots can possibly exist in that data base???

There are countless other outlets where kids are "connecting" nowadays.  And before my middle schooler ends high school there are certain to me several more.

This, in addition to the most sinister of all outlets, texting.

A few weeks ago we intercepted some graphic texts intended for our little one.  It was a nauseating, repulsive, and altogether enlightening lesson for everyone.

First, it is now ON.  Well, it was before.  But now for real.

"Do you know what this means?  Do you know what your body is capable of?  Do you know boys are evil?"

All of this and more.

But, does that mean the phone gets taken away?  Does it mean I have to engage the parents of the culprit?  The youth himself?  Should school be involved?  Police?

Um, no.

Kids will make mistakes.  Kids have been making mistakes forever.

What would my generation have done with cell phones?  I shutter to think of some of the nonsense I did at 13 WITHOUT technology.

But I made it home for dinner at 5... and bedtime whenever that was.  My work was (mostly) done.  My rap sheet was (relatively) clean.  My parents were none the wiser.

I was able to look an adult in the eye and say "Yes please" and "Thank you Mr. Smith."

Don't get me wrong, it was a good thing we uncovered the texts.  If nothing else we can better parent OUR kid.

But it is not my responsibility to parent every one else's.  We can only hope our child navigates the would be prep school date rapists and other miscreants.  Our tutorial has started sooner rather than later, but such is life.

The question is, how much monitoring should we do?  Is it more helpful or harmful to be so engaged?

At some point our kids will have to navigate the waters and make mistakes.  Let's be honest, we all did the same shit they are doing- just without smart phones.

Recent data suggests teen pregnancy and abortion are at all time lows.    Does this tell us kids are capable of governing themselves?  Or do we all take credit for scaring the holy hell out of them with our constant hovering?

However you want to keep score, the fact is they may not need our interference.  

Just as we did not need our folks bugging us...  etc...  etc...

Now, will I stop checking her phone?  Probably not.  But when she wants to go a friends house (with boys) or wants to go downtown after school (with boys) I will not be following her every move.  I do not, at this point, want to put a GPS on her phone.

Sooner or later we have to trust.

We wanted the same from our parents, no?

And look how good that turned out.

Wait, what?

Well, back to the drawing board.  Off to coach yet another game because far be it for me to trust someone else watching over her.

This parenting stuff is intense.  How do you all do it???

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