Jane is twelve. This autumn she will be thirteen and I’m pretty sure what we’re experiencing here is not unique. The elementary school years were pretty easy, there were no big upheavals, just a bit of mean girl behavior in third grade that got nipped in the bud, but nothing monumental. Sixth grade was pretty much a cake walk too. This summer there’s been a change in the air.
Jane is pissed at me because I have limited her phone access. After 10pm she can only text us and her grandparents, the same goes for phone calls on the cell. Further, her computer time is limited to ninety minutes a day, the computer simply shuts off after ninety minutes. These simple steps save Mr. G and me from policing screen time.
Jane came to me with tears in her eyes. I treat her like a baby and none of the other parents have time restrictions for their kids. In fact some of her friends are scared of me.
I had to explain to Jane that I hadn’t recently called any of these other parents for advice on how to monitor social networking and child-rearing. I had to explain to her that unrestricted smart phones for 12 year olds means that a parent isn’t doing their job. I then got to remind her that I’m not her friend and her friends are not allowed in the master suite at any point in the day, not even to pee, there are bathrooms downstairs.
Something horrible happened. Instead of tears her eyes turned a steely blue and her lips pursed shut. We were nose to nose and I got a curt, “fine then”. My daughter turned on her heel and walked out of the room, composed but seething.
I told Mr. G about the event and I asked him what he thought. I told him that she’d said that none of the other girls had media restrictions and that I’d told her our position on it. I asked him what he would have said to her if she asked him to lift the nighttime texting and social media bans. His response? “Drop Dead.”
At least I have an ally. I really hate that it’s so clear that we’re going to have prolonged battles.
Sounds like the discussions I have been having with my teens this week. My answer to them was ” since when do I let how your friends are raised effect how I choose to parent you?”
Stay tough. It makes it better for all of us. Too many other parents will drop the ball or wilt under pressure. I tell my kids that I haven’t ever worried or wondered about whether I am the mean dad. I am not here to be their friend. We can be friends when they are grown up, not now.
Oh, the look of steel is the worst. My 15 yo would rant, rave & cry. My 13 yo? The look, and the silence. I miss the yelling & crying.
Of course, all the steely looks in the world can’t make us cave.
I’ve had a few experiences where other moms have contacted me about these sorts of things. “Hey, my kid says your kid has a data plan, can you tell me how you manage it, and what limits you set?” my response: “She does not have a data plan, and we have no plans to get her one.” Now, either does her friend. Because one parent setting limits gives other parents permission to do the same. I don’t mind being first.
Nope, not unique at all, but I feel for ya. Mine started at 12. She’s 13 and though her father and I are separated, we still act together. She has at times wound up with all her privacy removed including her bedroom door. If she loses the phone at one parents house, she loses it at the others too. This year she is entering high school and we have allowed her to have her phone back and her email, but she will be monitored when she does her work on the computer because we know she can be sneaky about chatting.
I have on occasion, in front of her friends, told her in no uncertain terms that I am mom. There have been moments of humiliation for her. Picking my battles is sometimes hard. I don’t care about the hair, I don’t care about the piercings, I don’t care that she changes her mind about whether she likes onions every other week. I care that she shows respect to other people and that she does the homework presented to her. I care that she makes choices about her future for herself, what ever those choices might be.
I still find myself turning on Nanny 911 to reinforce my backbone every once in awhile.
OK this is the part about having a daughter that I dread. I remember being in that phase, though luckily it was short lived…right now every time my 1 yr old daughter cries for me to hold her I try to project forward and remind myself that she is not always going to think I am the best thing since sliced bread! :)