My daughter changed the password on her phone again, which left me with no choice but to take it from her until she could let me in on the new code. My son tries to sneak his laptop into his room all the damn time. I poke around on their social media and have to contact a parent before I allow them to go to a friend’s house.
This drives my kids crazy. At 13 and 15, it is very clear they think they are invincible, I know nothing, and they think my diligence in checking up on them and setting limits when it comes to their social life has nothing to do with trying my best to keep them safe and from acting like an ass.
In their mind, this is a fun hobby for me and my best attempt at ruining their lives forever.
Parent to parent, you know that’s not why I do these things, but if that’s what they want to think, great. I’ve stopped trying to convince them otherwise.
First, I partake in this game of push and pull because I am their mother, which will always trump being their friend.
Second, I realized the energy I was using to try and convince them I was doing all this for their own safety and because I loved them more than anything else in the entire world was seriously cutting into the energy I had stored to exercise and scrub the baseboards, so it had to stop.
I don’t know how else to parent my teenagers. Some may call it being an overprotective mom or use terms like “helicopter parenting” or whatever it’s called. People can throw me into a parenting category; I don’t care.
As a teenager, I got into sketchy situations when my mother wasn’t paying attention. But I also feel like this is the time I need to be watching my kids as they navigate their way from tricky situations. These years aren’t made to set them free and hope for the best because I trust them, which I do.
I give them freedom in small doses even though it feels like they are being held captive to them. They’ve broken my trust, and I’ve let them earn it back, and I believe the only way to do that is to give them an appropriate consequence, make them do their time, then try again.
But as parents, we are all different; we have different kids; we are comfortable parenting in different ways, and sure, some of our past experiences come into play here because that’s what makes us who we are.
I will always believe our kids are looking to us to set boundaries for them, and I no longer question my parenting by comparing what I allow my kids to do against what other parents allow their kids to do. I just can’t — it makes my head spin and shows my kids I’m unsure of myself. I am sometimes, by the way, but my gut never lies.
If I don’t feel good about sending my daughter to a coed sleepover, even if she’s the only one not going, I won’t let her go. I’ve gone against my intuition enough times in my life to realize when I do that, it’s always the wrong decision.
I think if you are a parent and you’re wondering how far you should go to protect your kids, how involved you should be in their social lives, and what measures you should take to make sure they are following the rules, you should go as far as your comfort zone lets you, and change your rules accordingly.
You might feel okay about something today but have a reason to change your mind the following week, and you don’t need to beat yourself up about that decision.
My thirteen-year-old might not understand at this very second why I’m not cool with them going over to a friend’s after school (a friend I don’t know at all) while being chaperoned by said seventeen-year-old sibling and his friends when there aren’t any parents home, but someday she will. And I’ll be here for it, waiting for her to thank me.