I have to admit that I got the title of this post from reading my favorite magazine, Family Circle, wherein Rosalind Wiseman has the “Ask Rosalind” section. Rosalind is not just an educator but also an author who works with kids, parents and schools on the very real issues of peer pressure, bullying prevention and media literacy. Needless to say, she is my absolute favorite so I am going to piggy back on the information provided in the January 2011 issue because it has been on my mind for a while to post about same.
It seems in our fast-paced society of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Tumblr… our children are growing up so fast. In fact, some teens and even tweens are having sex earlier than in times past, smoking, drinking and leading lives that can end up being destructive. Navigating the real world in this day and age is a daunting task and one that we, as parents, really need to focus more on in order to help them get there without going down the destructive path that some have decided is the only way to go. In Rosalind’s article, she references two parents who learned that their 15 year old had sex with her boyfriend. The parents grounded their daughter and forbid her to see him again. I loved Rosalind’s advice. She advised them to re-read Romeo and Juliet because that was the dynamic that they had just created. She told them to face the fact their response did not address the goals, which are to help their daughter develop into a sexually responsible adult and to have her boyfriend respect their values. Rosalind is right. With this situation, it is important that we have an open discussion with our child and try to step back and try to see their position. By doing this, we only build a more trusting relationship with them. We don’t have to condone the behavior but we need to realize that our reactions to these type of situations will control the way the whole conversation with our children will go and the lesson they take from it in general. We have to remember that we cannot fall into the “out of touch” parent category because of how we were raised or because of how “things were” when we were younger. Our children are living in a totally different world than we once lived in. Now, obviously, I am aware that “taboo” teen sex has been going on, but in today’s world, we have to remember that it is almost expected even if we obviously don’t agree with it.
I feel one of the most important things we can teach our tweens and teens is that we can trust them to have some independence but as Rosalind says, “freedom has its limits.” Our tweens and teens need to know that they can rely on us and our responsibility to them is to teach them how. We have to have open conversations with them about the dangers of STD’s and the dangers of too much social networking. We have to get them away from the television and out of the house to explore nature and we have to let them know how absolutely precious they are to us.
Listen parents, even though we are gauged to keep and try to protect our children from all harm, danger and even bad life decisions, they have to and will make these decisions sometimes whether we like them to or not. Life happens when we aren’t around and that is something we have to accept. However, by being loving, open and even by giving our children a little space to make the right choices, we give them so much more than just advice. We teach them how to make adjustments along the way. Those adjustments or as I like to call them “survival skills” will be what carries them through life.
To learn more about Rosalind’s work and programs, go to www.rosalindwiseman.com. You won’t be disappointed!
Happy New Year,