Mawwwwwwwm, my friend has a Nintendo DS and I really want one; you can play all these really cool games, go in chat rooms, blah, blah, blah. She lost me at “go in chat rooms”. Yes, I did some research and maybe some would argue that it’s not as bad as it sounds but I just don’t want that kind of technology in my child’s hands. “All my friends have one”. And my response is; “good for them; all the children that live in this house will not have one.” How do you handle the situation when your child tells you that all their friends are doing something or have something or go somewhere or wear something and you don’t approve of it? I have witnessed children in my daughter’s fourth grade class with cell phones! Here are a few ideas that have helped me get through this onslaught from all my kids.
First of all I had to cone to terms with the fact that yes there are indeed 2 kids in her class that do have and carry cell phones but that not “all” the kids carry a cell phone. This helped me realize that I am not alone on my stand on this matter as well as various other matters that I don’t approve of for my kids. Sometimes as a parent you will need to make some hard choices that your child is not going to like but you can be rest assured that you are not the only parent who is making hard choices and decisions; other parents just like you are doing the same thing for their child.
One of the most important things that I work to maintain is a bond of love between my children and I. My kids know that no matter what they do or say that I will always love them; my love for them is not something that will ever be a doubt in their minds. Since this is so deeply ingrained in them it makes it a bit easier for me to discuss many difficult issues with them. I have had many discussions with all of my kids about the rules we have in this house versus the rules that their friends have in their houses. I have made sure they understand I am not responsible for setting limitations for their friends and I can only do what I feel is right and best for my own children and it is the responsibility of every parent to do what they feel is right and best for their own kids. I have also made sure they understand that just because someone else’s rules are different from ours it doesn’t make either one of us right and the other wrong; we’re just different people with different standards.
I’ve also found it to be very important to know I establish my boundaries on a various number of issues so when something comes up I don’t have to flounder for an answer with my kids. I have a very strong and firm stance on things such as sneaking out of the house, lying, drugs, alcohol, sex, dating, and other dangerous issues for my kids. On the other hand if my child wants to cut his/her hair into the latest fad or dye it orange it’s not something I argue too much about. I’m not going to pay for something I don’t particularly like but if they want to foot the bill for something outrageous I have no problem letting them do it. I feel it’s important to pick my battles and only fight for something major. Orange hair will eventually go away but a pregnant teenager is something that has to be dealt with for the rest of their lives.
In our house we also have a family contract; this contract states the rules, the consequences for breaking the rules and the rewards for obeying the rules. Everyone, including mom, signs the contract and everyone is expected to abide by the terms of the contract. This gives the family a clear cut set of rules to abide by without any excuses saying someone didn’t know it was a rule.
Kids are kids and not grown-ups; they are going to make mistakes and do some stupid stuff over the course of their childhood and adolescent years. Don’t forget to think back to your own childhood and the stuff you did; also remember there were times when your parents cut you some slack. I can clearly remember the first time I ever went out on a date at the age of 15; I didn’t come home till after 3:00 in the morning. My parents did not specifically tell me when to come home so I went home when I was good and ready to go home! You know what? They didn’t ground me until I was 21, they didn’t scream and yell, they didn’t lock me in my bedroom; instead they sat down and told me from now on whenever I wanted to go out on a date that 10 (or maybe 11 – I’m not sure now) was my curfew and they expected me to be home by that time without any excuse or there would be consequences. Now I can guarantee you I didn’t always make it home on time and there were definitely consequences but the point is my parents balanced things out and cut me some slack where it was needed and implemented consequences where it was needed. Be sure to do the same thing with your kids as well.
Always keep the lines of communication open between you and your child; as they grow up to be teens they will need to know they can always come to you for any problem, question, or just to talk. It’s best to have your teenage daughter come to you to tell you her boyfriend is pressuring her to have sex rather than to find out she is suddenly gaining weight and her doctor tells you she’s pregnant. Give your child a chance to prove you can trust them and give an extra special pat on the back when they prove you can and also be sure to be there to lend them a hand back up when they fail. Growing up is a learning process of many trials and errors; just remember you wouldn’t be where you are today without making many of the same mistakes your kids are bound to make. Make sure they know you will never turn your back on them.
Being a parent is never easy; you and I both know it! I can’t believe that I already have a child who has according to most people’s standards become an adult. Over the years there have been a lot of things we didn’t agree on but in the end he knows I love him and I will always be here for him. He has pushed me to my ultimate limits many times but I have kept my resolve on the important issues when it came to the “all my friends….” statements. I have to believe in his heart he feels safe, and loved because I have set boundaries for him that will keep him safe.
***NOTE: I do realize that the chat room feature of the Nintendo DS can be turned off – the actual point of this blog was not about the pros and cons of this toy but rather what I have done when my children come to me with the “but everyone else does…” type of statement.