When my kids were little we watched a lot of the show Dragon Tales on PBS, to me those were the simple days. Monotonous yes and at times I did feel overwhelmed but I do think life with little ones is so much simpler that life with big kids, especially pre teen kids. Kids’ getting older is fun and can be wonderful but it is also a scary time.
Your problems were simpler back then and the consequences of bad choices are not as extreme. Back then we lived in that world Zach and Wheezy did, be nice, share, be honest and be helpful; those were your big worries. Things could usually be solved in a half hour or less and then you’d sing a cute little song and the world was right again.
Your time with them as they get older is more limited… they are at school for 6+ hours. They are surrounded by other people’s ideas, values, and beliefs. You are no longer the only one telling them right from wrong and good from bad.
The scariest part about that to me is even if they have been raised with good values and morals; they are still too young and impressionable to make the right choices every time. They still have little concept of consequences, they see the world as it is right now. Friends and fitting in become more and more important. So, sometimes the lessons of right from wrong and good from bad, along with the roots we have given them just aren’t strong enough.
We have to accept that the world isn’t always kind, and neither are people. We need to believe that no matter what happens out there they will come back to us just as we sent them out. We have to trust that more times than not they will remember and they will make the right choices. And then we pray.
As my oldest child has ventured of into the dreaded middle school years I have also learned this… they still need us to protect them. The worlds we live in today are scary and far more dangerous that the world I grew up in. (and trust me I wouldn’t go back if you paid me)
When they were little we protected them from, cars, stuff that was hot, strangers and bad dreams. Now we need to protect them from so much worse. They begin to make their own friends whom you know nothing about and the media message is much more seductive than our own.
They have access to so much more and we don’t have a clue. Full internet and their IPods for instance, I know from my own experience that Google will tell you EVERYTHING, inappropriate or not… it’s there. We have a Google search filter on our computer at home and I have still seen questionable material.
They all have cell phones, I will admit the convenience of being able to contact your child anytime, and anywhere is appealing. However, I’m scared at how easy it is to send a text and how quick the message can be deleted. It is easy to say things through a text that you would never in million years say to someone’s face. Not to mention the fact that with technology, once it is out there, it is there for good.
Sometimes as parents we have to make unpopular choices for our kid’s sake. We need to stand up and say just because society says this is ok, it’s not ok with me. We need to take away the toys that can do more harm than good. We need to turn a deaf ear when we hear that EVERYONE else gets to. We need to decide that society isn’t going raise our kid, we are. Sometimes we need to make decisions we don’t feel comfortable with ourselves in a drastic effort to save our children from harm.
We also need to trust our instincts as parents. We need to listen to that little voice that is telling us to pay attention. We need to become ok with being unpopular and be strong enough to make choices we don’t want to. More than anything we have to not give up.
Unless as parents, we start standing up for our kids we will be harming their fragile futures. We are putting our babies into a world before they are equipped to handle it, process it or navigate it. Growing up is hard, puberty is hard, parenting is hard, and the world we live in today makes it all even harder.
Obviously we can’t put our kids in a bubble. I’d love nothing more than to grab my little family, jump into that Knucker hole, like on Dragon Tales, and stay there safe and sound. I know this isn’t a real option, as wonderful as it sounds.
So for us I think protecting our kids means pulling them in a little closer, paying more attention to what they see and hear, we’ll be saying no more, because our gut says so. We will make the tough changes even though they may be an inconvenience to us, and it would be easier not to. We will remind ourselves why, and that someday they will thank us. We will do all these things, and then, we will get use to the fact that sometimes we will be sitting at the unpopular table and as long as we are there together and for the right reasons it’s not a bad seat.
~Go hug your kids! ~ S