Your teenager is not an adult
Let me start this off by applauding every parent out there that is doing the most difficult job on this planet, which is raising a child. It is not easy being a parent, from the moment a child is born, till when you as a parent probably leave this planet, your job is that of a lifetime. Parents worry about what their children will eat, wear, what school they would go to, if there is enough money to pay for their child's education, while trying to keep the home-front afloat. All of this is very daunting.
But the purpose of this article is to bring to light, some of the things I have noticed with some parenting style, especially with pre-teens and teenagers. Some parents relate with their teenagers as adults, letting them do whatever they want. That is not how it should be. As a parent, you have to know where to draw the line, and boundaries have to be put in place, so your child will still have a clear understanding of who the parent is.
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Anyone who reads my articles regularly knows that I love watching crime shows (real-life documentary), and it always breaks my heart when I see teenagers get into trouble or end up being the victim of a heinous crime. A lot of these children don't know who they are, and they are still coming into their own identity, that is why a parent is needed to guide, assist, and protect them from potential predators that are continually targeting these minors as prey. A child needs to be closely monitored by their parent.
The parent needs to know who their children’s friends are, who they hang out with during school hours and afterward. With the rise of social media and the internet, parents should be more technical savvy than their children. They should know who their children are following and communicating with, in the online world. You need their passwords, and the kids need to have limited times on these social platforms.
Research shows that one in three teenagers have experienced cyberbullying, and girls are more likely to be victims than boys. Girls are also an easy target for sexual predators. These adults pose as young boys online and lure the girls into obscene things. As an adult, if someone is mean or says something nasty to me, I am in my feelings for some time, and then I am able to brush it off and move on.
And also I have the mental capacity to sieve through specific messages that come into my inbox, and not engage certain people. A teenager, on the other hand, is most likely going to get more affected by mean things people say online about them or to them, which can drive them to do crazy things. A teenager may entertain complete strangers online, without knowing if these people are sane or not. So parents need to monitor their children's screen time, and carefully watch who their kids are interacting with online.
You know this phrase we teach children, stranger danger? It should also be applied online. As a parent you should have an open line of communication with your kids, so they are comfortable telling you anything. I am of the opinion that pre-teens and teenagers (13-17) shouldn’t have social media pages, the time that they spend online and playing video games should be used to develop and equip them to become better adults.
Apart from cyberbullying, some teenagers have lost their lives, from meeting up with people from the internet who posed as someone else but turned out to be a perpetrator. So this has to be taken very seriously. I grew up in a time when there was no social media (I am not that old). We did not even have internet growing up, so all of that was foreign to us. My brother and I got creative and came up with designs for our own toys to play with. We would make up stories, act them out and enjoy some fantastic outdoor time. And guess what? We also Interacted with the people around us, which is so hard for people to do these days, adults and teenagers alike. Cellphones became popular when I was about 14 years old, and I didn’t get one till I turned 16.
I was raised in a home where I clearly knew who the leader of the house was. My parents did their best to raise me right with the necessary boundaries in place, that they felt comfortable enough to send me off to college at 18, in a different country, so far away from home. I am not saying I never messed up or made mistakes along the way, but this passage of scripture is true which says—"Train up a child, in the way that he should go, and when he grows old, he will not depart from it."
Now, this doesn't mean that your kids wouldn't make a lot of detours in life, but when you put your best foot forward, to raise them right, they will always come back to those fundamental values you imparted in them. I found this quote online very funny, but yet so true—“Going to bed early, not leaving the house, not going to a party; my childhood punishments have become my adult goals.” Children will always come back to the very things you try so hard instilling in them.
Dear parent; your teenager is not an adult, and therefore can't make rational decisions for themselves all the time. They have a poor sense of judgment, and they need you to step in and bridge that gap, even if they do not know it. Dear parent; do not be afraid to put your foot down. Dear parent; do not be scared to make rules. Dear parent; do not be afraid to set boundaries. Dear parent; do not accept disrespect from your teenager. Dear parent; your children will be mad at you because they wouldn’t like the rules you put in place, but don't fret, you know it is for their own good, and when they grow older, they will appreciate you for it. I know I did.
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Dear parent; you have the most important and fantastic role on the planet, please don't take it for granted. God gave you your children as precious gifts because He knows that you will be His best representative here on earth to guide and show them the way that they should go. If you need help, talk to your village, and they will step in and fill in for you while you rest. Your job isn’t the easiest, but remember that it is the best, and you got this! And to you teenagers, honor your father and mother, they know best.
If your children have experienced bullying, online or offline and you need further help to navigate the trauma they may feel, you can visit National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (nspcc.org.uk).