PARENTING IN TODAY'S WORLD (Proactive Parenting)
From Land Lines To Cell Phones
I read a question a HubPage member asked. "Would you read your child's diary?" I think it was unanimous that parents would not read their child's diary. I must say I wasn't shocked entirely but I was a little surprised. A diary is a little "sacred", isn't it?
However, when baby boomers, such as myself, were growing up, a diary was an innocent thing. You wrote about catching fireflies in the neighborhood and which boy you had a crush on. You wrote about the secret crush you had on a teacher, starting your menstrual cycle and who you might sit with on the bus and whether you held hands later.
However, we had land lines and the parents heard most of the conversation. If you were lucky, there was no party line, but if you had one, you knew gossip was a possibility and you were taught to avoid it. There were no video games except at the drug store. There was no internet. You were privileged if you had a transistor radio. The drug store juke box was where you got away with songs like "Down By The Lazy River."
Entertainment, for the most part, was outside. The neighborhood ballgame or kick the can, hide and seek, red rover, red-light green-light, hopscotch and jumping rope were highlights of the evening. TV was three to six channels and mostly consisted of Lawrence Welk, Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and Donnie and Marie Osmond's Variety Show.
The Posters in the bedroom revealed teen idols like David Cassidy, Donnie Osmond and maybe Kenny Rogers. If you were a bit risque you had an album with "D.I.V.O.R.C.E" and "The Pill".
If you grew up on a farm there was even less time for all these frills. Entertainment was something that happened after chores were done and before the lights went out if there was still time.
Fast forward. From land lines to cell phones now, there is a delete button. Parents don't hear the texting conversations and times have changed.
Highway of Strangers
There were warnings about picking up hitchhikers.
Now, because of the internet, handheld video games that go online in the back seat of our cars, and cell phones, strangers are everywhere around our children, in the midst of them and perhaps even grooming them.
Online, you can click on most any teens media page and there find profiles without pictures of someone in another country, but they may really be living on your block watching your child's every move. Anyone can make a profile and claim they live just about anywhere.
There the stranger enters your home and can learn where your child attends school, even IF the child does not tell them. They ask questions like "What's your school team?" And from there they can just google it.
Parents who do not put limitations on their children's cell phones should know the internet is at their fingertips for many subjects not age appropriate inviting strongholds of sexual addiction, how to mix over-the-counter drugs to get a high and what the latest daring trends are such as the "choking game" and other deadly trends.
Cell phone videos have enabled children to get bullied and the users have taken advantage of others in their most vulnerable state. High school "friends" are not exempt from that list.
The Experience of Step Parenting
When I was married, I had a two teenage step sons. The first one eventually got off meth and became a productive person in society. The second one tested and tried every angle an addict can.
My first introduction to his true lifestyle of drugs was when he left his email open and I saw, not only had he taken prescription drugs at a teen lock-in at church, he stole them from his mother's medicine cabinet. At that time, pot and Morphine were the drugs of choice.
On another occasion, I learned what M&M parties are. It's a fad among teens where they bring unlimited prescription drugs and place them in a bowl and then select them at random with other colors to see "what happens". This is a deadly trend.
On another occasion when he left his email open, I learned he had raped a girl. He was 15 at the time and she was 13. My heart sunk.
His drug addiction became worse and he became belligerent and violent at times. He had rage attacks, overdosed on three occasions and got in trouble with the law.
This was a child that had too much idle time. A latch key kid that raised himself and had no online limitations. He went to church, made the school football team and seemed to have plenty of friends. But soon, due to the drugs, was unable to function because of fatigue, lost interest and dropped school entirely.
For whatever reason, he tried all the drugs I can think of with his ultimate choice being OxyContin. $50.00 each on the street (according to him). He was in and out of rehab. His parents, the enablers by having no consequences and I felt each time they handed him money, they were putting a nail in his coffin.
I learned he had a secret cell phone for making drug deals. He delivered drugs so he could get his own cheaper.
I learned a lot in those 7 years. Memories, I would rather forget. But I can honestly tell you, when he overdosed, the parents were concerned about the reputation more than his life and if it had not been for me, I believe he would be dead today. At least two of his friends did overdose. Those two friends lost their lives to drugs.
I had no idea people shot up water the way they do heroin when they cannot get drugs and from what I was told, they get a short high.
Registered Sex Offenders
Sex offenders are everywhere unfortunately. All you have to do in Missouri, is go to the Missouri Highway Patrol site to search the offenders in your area. You may be surprised at how many you will find. They are in churches, and they are our neighbors.
A word of caution - Many sex offenders tell others that they were in their 20s and the girl was 17 and lied about her age. If you search the site I just gave you, you will find it's usually not true.
I recently asked a neighbor about one near me and she told me she (the victim) was a young woman, etc. I checked again, thinking I had made a mistake. But he was 28 and the victim was 8 at the time the offense occurred.
My theory is they use this defense to make themselves sound less of a monster. Because I have heard the fake "defense" so many times, I learned to check for myself.
What's a Parent To Do?
The list of changes over the past few decades has grown and our children are exposed to so much more. Be alert. It sounds so cliché to say "know where your children are" but it's more true now than ever.
Because society has changed, so have the rules. As parents, we need to be more vigilant, not less. We do need to know what our children are doing and not let that false security rule because after all, they are at "home" in their bedroom.
- Leave the computers in the open during the day.
- Shut the computers down at night with passwords.
- Limit the cell phones to as-needed applications such as "phone only".
- Don't allow your child's cell phone to go online.
- Try to keep your children involved in church activities but realize they still need YOUR supervision.
- Stay connected to your child by asking "What was your favorite part of the day?" instead of "How was school?" If you ask "How was school?" you are going to get the non-engaging answer of "Fine". If you ask "What was your favorite part of the day?" You are not letting them get away with "Fine". Ask engaging questions.
- Don't allow sleepovers without asking specific questions, such as "What will they be doing?" and "Do you have a computer at home?"
- Don't assume anything.
- Remind your child how much faith you have in them to make good choices. When they do make a good choice, be sure to let them know.
- If your older child gets home from school before you do, assign chores you can "see" so you know if they were done or not and what they did with their time.
- Limit video games and online activity to a half hour or dependent on age and if the homework is done.
- Learn online computer lingo. For example, "POS" means "parent over shoulder".
- Work with other parents in a networking formula to keep each other informed.
- Keep up on trends. Ask your kids if they've heard of a trend you read about.
It's not about being controlling. It's doing what you need to for your child's safety.
Translations for Teen Lingo on the Internet
Parent Over Shoulder
Get Naked On Cam
I Want Sex Now
Lets Meet In Real Life
Keeping Parents Clueless
Members Of Opposite Sex
Members of Same Sex
Mom Over Shoulder
Parent In Room
To Gang Up On Someone