FOR MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER AND HER FRIENDS:
I haven’t blogged in a while …. I’ve found it hard, have had priorities and personal stuff to deal with….. as a parent, my personal stuff often takes a back seat…. as a parent it’s hard to prioritise! I have 3 children: they are all very different, each with different needs. My eldest Daughter is having ‘issues’ of her own and whilst I’m being a parent (and OMG as these are the teen years – yes, they ‘are’ challenging), I wanted her to know that I am aware, I am listening, I might sound off a lot, but yes – I do understand and more importantly – as corny as it sounds I still want to say to her “You Are my World”.
Teenagers of today do have the same issues and problems we had. But you might have noticed that they stop indoors more (yes, well the technology is better – unbelievably better. We would have stopped in if it was this good!). You might have noticed they write less – text more, talk less – snap chat more. Facebook is at times your worst enemy (try holding a conversation with your teen while it’s switched on). But, then is it not ‘their’ worst enemy (try doing your homework when the DM’s keep flashing up when you’re are online researching or on the school website for homework)? Because social pressure has increased, it stands to reason that social acceptability is also increasing – I’m not sure I’d be coping with it either. But not to have access to social media comes with problems of it’s own – like not being socially acceptable in an ever growing world of technology.
Like for looks – Like for a paragraph – NGL – You look gorge’ babe (No, that’s you, but thanks), What? DM me now – You’re invited to…..
My advice – get with it, get on it and set ‘your’ terms sooner rather than later. If you say no, they’ll find a way. If you don’t look, there are things you will need to know. Keep your own account separate, resist tagging them and keep an eye on the game. Know their password, give them some freedom, ignore the bits you don’t want to see, accept there will be bits you really don’t want to see …. but be glad that when you are comparing the “What’s the worst that could happen Mum” of your day to that of today …. you ‘DO’ know what could happen! They will, as you did, keep things from you. But, their friends will, as your friends did, talk to you (or make the odd comment or ‘like’ to what you say). The undesirables though are much easier to see and recognise – to your Daughter, they are comments of approval or complements – to your husband, they are entrapment from walking hard ons! (his words, not mine).
My Daughter, like many other teenagers, is having a hard time in this ever changing, quickly developing world (where even in school they change the goalposts to utterly confuse them and yet expect results and commitment). I’ve forgotten when my Daughter last came home from school on time as opposed to doing catch up or additional ‘needed’ work for the options she has chosen ….. assessment after assessment and yet supposedly very little of this will count toward their final marks (as they are yet again changing the way these budding, young adults are accepted into the world of higher education). Most subject are now graded by final exams (despite 10 previous years of pre-GCSE systems and preparing for how to write assignments and coursework). My youngest (almost 7 yrs) has needed to learn joined up writing (whilst still larding the phonics, meaning and spelling of these words) since being 4 years old – to keep up!. What the? I was jaw droppingly shocked to hear “But she is not mastering the need to do ‘all’ of the letters the right height” in her Y1 (that’s 5 going on 6 year old) parents evening. My response “She’s very creative. Can you see how beautiful the letters are? Just like her pictures!”
The school are, even if they don’t mean it to be the case – totally useless at the barrier breaking between parents and their teens. They are also totally useless at making any effort to build bridges of communication between parents, teachers and their students (your children). They have much to learn in that whilst they are having to keep up with changes and try and keep to old traditions – they are changing them too fast for the children to know what it is they really do want – or what it is they are supposed to do. Then they want you to insist the targets are met, support your children – but refuse to tell you when they are not. “Your child is a very good and capable student” will be the scripted response … but when your child has done 2 lunch time detentions this week (that you only found out when you prised their school planner from them), you start to thinking – why aren’t you telling me this?
My Teen has learned a new freedom … it came with having a few pounds in her pocket from doing a paper round (I talked her into this around the Summer time). She learned it was OK to occasionally get the bus and promise to be home on time. She has met new people, enjoyed new space. She desperately wants to be accepted – but this comes with a price of learning new responsibility … there has to be some rules. They are not always met! I’ve found that as well as having your Teens friends numbers in your phone, it pays to have their parents numbers too. I have a few rules, that no matter how many times the pleading kicks in, I draw her back to them …
1) I need to know where you are
2) I need to know who you are with
3) Is there any alcohol? (she’s 14)
4) Are there adults/parents present
5) Do your friends parents know about this
She knows if she is on the bus I say she can come home on (9.30 at weekends) I’m happy to trust she will make good judgements – all of the above must apply!
If it is something running later or further away. I insist I pick up from where I dropped her off – all of the above still apply!
On occasion, social media has ratted her out …. I remind her of the rules and sometimes she doesn’t get to go.
So as I complain about lack of communication, I am not surprised my Daughter cries herself to sleep.
I’m backing off – but keeping tabs and
My response on my Facebook timeline was this (I did not tag her, mention her by name and it was not on her timeline) ……
You ARE beautiful – you don’t need a ‘like for looks’ to hear this
You ARE bright – even if some of your decisions are a bit misguided
You DO have my back – even when you do your best to cover up
You WILL make mistakes – just be sure to be with those you trust when you do
Yes, I have made mistakes, I have felt the way you do, I have lied to my parents and thought I knew best, I did think enough of myself to do the things I thought best for me……
I had some pretty bad friends and some that weren’t looking out for me.
But, I was very lucky to have good friends who were there to share these experiences with me and yes, they did watch my back…..
More importantly, there came a time when I realised that my parents, no matter how annoying, were right to nag me, right to keep on at me, to tell me the answers to my flippant “What the worst that could happen” and only now do I realise how unbelievably terrifying it is to ‘allow’ your Daughter to make mistakes and pray that she will have the same insight I did and the good friends I had to get me through my teenage years of thinking ‘I knew best’.
YOUR MUM IS NOT PERFECT – She has had years to experience, years to make mistakes, years to get over them, years to put things behind her, years to make the best of what she has, years to make things the best she can.
She also had her parents there to watch her do all of this and I’m grateful they were there.
YOU ARE YOUR OWN PERSON – BUT YOU ARE ALSO MY DAUGHTER – I’LL ALWAYS BE YOUR MUM – AND I’LL ALWAYS LOVE AND SUPPORT YOU xXx
P.S. You also have two other parents that watch your back and fight your corner more than you realise…… Do your best. Have fun. Make good friends. Try new things……. but do what feels right, not what you think others will like you for. You are beautiful, amazing, intelligent, creative and much more capable than you give yourself credit for. We are here for you – ALWAYS!
*Amongst the responses (quite a few from my Mum’s of Teens friends), the one that had the most impact – ‘I literally burst into tears’ was the response of my 14 year old Daughter – “Love you mum :’) xxx”