I attended a meeting recently with about 30 or so other parents, mostly moms. The organization that ran the meeting uses an acronym. (I won’t mention the name of the organization because I don’t want to diminish the good intentions of these wonderful women who are trying to rally parents for a common good.) Its goal is to bring parents and the community together to discuss how they can work jointly to guide and parent today’s tweens and teens in this new, technology-driven world.
It was advertised as an informal get together where parents can talk freely and share their concerns about the many difficult issues our kids face in today’s world: drinking, sex, drugs, social networking, etc.
I had hoped to walk away from the two-hour discussion feeling inspired. I had hoped to learn what other parents were doing to address these difficult issues in their homes. I had hoped to feel a little better about the future.
Unfortunately, my hopes were crushed.
It wasn’t the organizers fault. It wasn’t the parents’ fault. It is simply the world in which we live in, or, to quote one of my favorite sayings: It is what it is.
Today’s generation of teens and tweens face many of the same issues that we faced when we were growing up: drinking, drugs, sex, etc. There is nothing new here. Unfortunately, when you add technology to the mix – cell phones, texting, Facebook, Twitter - things become a little more difficult.
There was one brave police officer at the meeting, willing to face and attempt to answer over two dozen frantic mothers’ questions. As he explained it, the biggest issue we are dealing with concerning today’s teens is texting - this immediate communication that can reach dozens of teens in minutes.
There were mothers there at all stages of life - some had children in middle school, just entering the fray; others in high school, in the midst of it; while others had a mix of college, high school and even middle school children (that would be me).
The comments I heard ranged from “All kids drink; accept it.” to “I read every text message my child sends out” to “Can’t we just ban kids from Facebook, texting and cell phones?”
Really? There has to be a happy medium here, doesn’t there?
Shouldn’t we give our kids some rope, some freedom? Must we read all their inbox messages and monitor all their texts?
My parents didn’t know half of what I did (Thank God!) and I survived. Do we, as parents, know too much of what is going on in our kids’ lives? Or is there no such thing as knowing too much when it comes to our children?
While I commend this group’s vision and their goals, I have to say I won’t be going back to any more meetings. Through the years, I’ve gathered a rather good support group made up of family and friends with similar ideals and beliefs whom I look to when I have questions.
And, while we may not always get it right, we are always willing to listen and change and encourage each other as we work our way through this battleground of teenage life.
And I’m thinking of giving us our own acronym: STOP – Surviving Teens and Overreacting Parents!
Care to join us?