The hardest part of parenting is…….Other Parents! Yeah – I said it.
I’m not saying I am better at it. I think I’m mediocre or maybe a pinch higher than that. I keep them clean, fed, educated, teach them life skills and all that jazz. I think we first notice a shift when they become exposed to other children. As a working mom, my kids were almost always in daycare. So I noticed it early. But it really kicks in when they start school.
Kids pick up everything. They try it on, see if they like it, see if it gets a reaction. And they choose to keep some of it, none of it, or all of it. It’s neat to see. Watching these magnificent little creatures grow into groovy people. It is an incredible responsibility. It’s also how we all turned out to be who we are today and who we will be tomorrow.
I find myself having conversations with my ten year old that I wasn’t expecting for three or four more years. This week we had a conversation about weight. At ten. When I was ten I was hula hooping, trying to figure out a side pony tail, chewing Hubba Bubba, and playing with Barbies. I didn’t know how much my friends weighed or what size clothes they sported.
The parenting battle is allowing the influence when it’s harmless. Fighting the uphill battle when it’s hurtful, unbecoming, or toxic. Balancing technology with human interaction. Letting them try on new slices of personality while enforcing manners and respect. It’s hard stuff.
She is going into fifth grade. And she wants a phone. The answer is no. An answer that would be easier for her to cope with IF ALL THESE OTHER PARENTS would NOT give their ten year olds phones. But it isn’t about just a phone. It’s about fitting in. Not feeling left out of friendships. This is bigger than a piece of tech. This is a middle school/high school conversation about being your own person and loving yourself. This is stuff ten year olds do not have the capacity to comprehend yet.
I have a philosophy about cell phones and kids. It’s simple. They shouldn’t have them. For a thousand reasons.
There are important life skills buried in the use of a telephone. A shared family phone line. Old school shit. I think kids should learn how to have verbal conversations before they start texting. This is not just about learning proper salutations and phone etiquette. It’s also about learning what you call for versus what can wait until you see the person. It’s about respecting a person’s accessibility.
Guess what. She is ten and doesn’t get how ANY of those things are important. Then I have to sprinkle on ALL THINGS safety and responsibility when it comes to cell phones. She could care less. All she hears is “no, you cannot be cool and have that shiny device.”
I’m stuck. I have to figure out how to get that message through in addition to that huge never ending conversation about not needing to have everything everyone else has or be like everyone else. So, thank you to the Other Parents for giving your kid a cell phone. Mind taking it away now?
I get it. It’s hard to say no. Although, I am super good at saying ‘No’. Like, really super good. But I try to accompany each ‘No’ with logical backing. But it is hard. And this cell phone thing is extra hard.
Children need to be children. They need to learn in logical order. They need to learn as their ability to comprehend grows. They may look and act older than you and I did at ten but that’s a façade. Their brains are the same as ours were. What we are seeing is influence, not evolution.