Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm about to open up a major can of karma whoopass on myself

I know you should never. ever. EVER say what you will or won't do as a parent. I've tiptoed around this a bit before, but I've always tried to not be judgemental of other parenting methods or theories, especially since I'm still fresh off the new parent boat. And you know how I am, so shy and modest and reserved with my opinions. And I'm sure it will be absolutely shocking to you that I'm about to spew one of my opinions all over this post.

This morning I was driving to work and listening to my favorite morning show on the radio. On Tuesdays they usually read some sort of listener dilemma and have other listeners call in with their opinions. I missed the dilemma this morning, but I was able to get the basic idea from the recaps and what the callers were saying. Essentially, this listener (a dad) was concerned because his 13 year old daughter was wanting to date their 15 year old neighbor.

Now let me tell you, I know I tend to be more conservative than your average bear, especially with my ideas on parenting. I basically always assume that most people in the mainstream will disagree with me on most of my views. My parents had a hard and fast rule when I was a teenager that there would be no dating until age 16. And they were serious. I was "going out" with my high school boyfriend for probably 6 months before I turned 16, and they would not let us be alone together until literally the day that I turned 16. He wasn't even allowed to drive me to youth group meetings. I hated it back then, but now that I'm older and a mom and I see how young 16 really seems in real life, I think they might have been on to something. (Although they were way more lax with my younger brother, but that's another post entirely.)

So suffice it to say that I'm coming into this "dilemma" with some experiences that render me pretty biased. Now I don't know if it's because I think that kids are getting into the dating world FAR to early these days, or if it's just me being conservative or whatever, but to me, age 13 seems ridiculously young to be dating. Kids are nowhere near emotionally mature at that age, and dating is an adult privilege.

I don't want to worry about my son or daughter sexting their girl/boyfriend (which I won't have to worry about anyway because they won't have cell phones at that age - I know, I know. I'm evil. I'm mean. How could any parent deny their child a cell phone? Call CPS.) or telling their fellow 13-year-old that they "love" them, all the while their hormones are raging and they're slamming doors in my face screaming that they hate me because I wouldn't buy them this or that or because I won't let them have a cell phone. Sending that walking ball of hormones into the dating world is begging for trouble. And you must be smoking something funny if you think I'd ever allow my 13 year old daughter to date a 15 year old boy. Two years difference at that stage of life is like 10 years in the adult world, especially when it's the boy that's older.

You can see that I have strong views on the dating topic. And I was actually a little bit surprised (color me naieve) when the people calling in to the radio station were saying things like, "Oh well, just get to know the boy because you can't stop your daughter from dating him anyway. The devil you know is better than the devil you don't." Or one of my all-time favorites, "Kids are going to do what they're going to do no matter what you say, so you may as well just allow it."

Ok, you're going to need to give me a second to breathe here, because I'm getting so worked up that my fingers can't keep up with the speed at which the thoughts and responses are coming to my brain. Woooooo-sahhhhhh. In.....and......out........

There, that's slightly better.

First of all, I have to address my views on the "they're going to do it anyway" argument before my head explodes. My response to this is: I double-dog-dare them to freakin do it anyway! Listen, when my child is 22 or 23 and living out of my house and not spending a dime of my money, then the, "they're going to do it anyway" argument is slightly more applicable. I don't have to lay down and let them do whatever they want without stating my opinion, but at that point I have no control over what they do because they are adults and are living on their own. But when my child is 13 and I pay for every single thing they eat, do, live in and wear, you better believe I have control over what they do.

If I tell my young teenage child that they can't do something and they go ahead and do it anyway, they lose a privilege. If they do it again, they lose another privilege. And so on and so forth until they are under virtual house arrest and their bedroom contains a bed and maybe a lamp.

One caller on the radio station said something like, "My dad told my sister she couldn't date a guy, but she snuck out the window and did it anyway. And she ended up marrying the guy!" And the radio host was like, "Wow, so a happy ending, despite the fact that she snuck out of the house." And the caller was like, "Well, sort-of. They got divorced after 5 months but still."

To me, that example strongly reinforces my stance on this topic. Maybe if the parents had taken more of an active role and said, "You are my child and I love you and it is because I love you and have your best interests at heart that I will not allow you to disobey me like this" then that lady would have been saved a world of heartache.

Don't get me wrong, I know that children make mistakes. And I know that parents aren't perfect and don't always make the right choices regarding their children. But if I look back at when I was a teenager and received advice, guidance or discipline from my parents, they were right with alarming consistency. The sole fact that their hormones were more like a calm river than a raging hurricane sea played strongly in their favor.

And now here I am with a post that is basically me up on a big, fat soapbox when I originally intended it to be a light-hearted commentary on the crazyass people that are allowed to be parents in today's world. And I'm pretty sure that I'm just begging God to make L a little hormone-crazed hellion when he's a teenager so that everyone can point and laugh at me when I'm sitting in the corner, rocking back and forth with a dead look in my eyes. When that happens, feel free to shove this post in my face and be like, "See! It's not so easy, is it!??" But at that point it probably won't matter, as I'll likely have already mentally vacated my body in a last-ditch effort in self-preservation.

So for now, I think I'll just calmly step off my soapbox and put it away until the next time some silly radio segment gets me all worked up. Betcha can't wait!


Finding My Weigh said...

One of the first things I said when we learned our second was to be a girl was "Oh my God, we're going to have a teenage girl!" I am SO petrified of what is going on with 'kids these days'. I have to believe that good parenting and sticking to your guns on rules will eventually pay off and result in happy, responsoble and well balanced kids, but I don't think I will relax (if then) until they are both 30!!

Jessie said...

I absolutely agree with this post. Even as a non-parent, I can say that boundaries are so key in parenting, because kids NEED boundaries. They beg for them. Why is your kid sneaking out and doing crazy stuff? Because they are trying to test you, tempt you, BEGGING you to establish a boundary and show them you care. They want to know you care enough to show them. I didnt get this until way after.. and I thought my mom was crazy for her rules and early curfews, etc. I mean I had rules about make up, dating, time spent away from the house, etc.. we liked rules in my house. But I look all around me and see so many adults who don't have discipline in their own lives and live for 'what feels good', completely disregarding common sense. Do we really need to keep perpetuating this insanity!? (Ok.. stepping off my soap box too!)

Nicole Everitt said...

This is so - damn - true. I don't care how much my children "hate" my for the boundaries I fully intend to enforce; there are some things they need to understand are for adults and children.
I feel like not enough parents understand this nowadays, and that's why half the planet has these spoiled rotten brats for children.
If children won't respect their creators (ha, ha), then who will they respect? But seriously - if they won't respect the people who give them every single thing they own and brought them into the world - really, who will they respect? No one, not even themselves. Because how can you completely reject your sources and those who you are every bit a part of, and still love yourself? I don't really think you can.
And this is why there are so many teens who are sexting, getting laid, getting drunk, and getting stoned. No, self, respect.
Go, good parents with boundaries, go!
I'll get off the soapbox now too..

Kate said...

Good For you Katie! Welcome to Mean Mommy School.

Sarah Weller said...

I am going to be a mean mommy too. lol Totally agree with you Katie!

shasta said...

Ok, I totally get the spirit in which this post was written, but I was one of those kids that did pretty much everything you just bashed. I started dating my husband when I was 15 and he was almost 18 and I certainly did things behind my parents back. And after almost 13 years, we're still a great couple. We also have two master's degrees, a four month old baby, and almost 8 years of marriage between us. I trusted my decision even when my parents didn't. If it had been up to them, I would never have gone on that blind date.

I'm not too keen on the whole "respect me because I created you" sentiment. That's really condescending to your kids. I believe that it's totally possible to teach kids how to become productive, responsible members of society without being a tyrant. My mother-in-law once told me, "Kids are part of your family, not dogs to be trained."

Brigid said...

Katie - 100% agree with you. Kids are not mature enough to date at that age and 99% of the time it ends in complete heartache. To the 1% that it works out for, congrats on beating the odds. But i'm still not going to bet on a 1% chance with my kids.
I would actually take it a step farther and say that you shouldn't date until senior year of HS... but that's just me. :)

magicjess said...

Good for you, Katie!! I compeletely agree as well...I was raised the same as you (no dating till 16 and such) and I know for a fact the reason I didn't get into trouble is because my parents were very, very strict about when I could be with my friends, whose parents were going to be there, etc. It's weird now because I look back and still remember how I thought they were too mean, but I am so thankful to them!! Who cares how often I went out in freaking high school?? :)