Monday, February 25, 2008

How much space do you give them?

My friend, boogiemum wrote a great post on the usage of MySpace and kids.

I realize this is a pretty big debate right now. The use of computers and cell phones and instant messaging and all that. I am not too shy to say that my children do not have access to the internet unless supervised. They are not members of MySpace or any other friend to friend chatty type thing. I feel the risks so outweigh the gains. They do not have cell phones. I do not see the point. Much to my oldest's dismay. She wants one. For what, I ask? Cuz they are cool. Cuz I can then talk to my friends. Okay, that is what we have a regular phone for. Yeah, she says, but it is not as cool. Maybe not, but thats what you get. You can choose not to use it. That is still a choice, but in choosing not to use it it does not in anyway increase your chances of getting a cell phone. It just decreases how much you get to talk to your friends. Even on the landline the oldest gets 1 hour of phone time per day. Yes, I am strict.

When they become older and I see the reason for them to have one my feelings may change. Say, when they are like 21! No, really, say when they begin to drive and need it for an emergency or they begin to submerge themselves in school activities and we need to stay connected. But in that event the usage will still be limited and there will be very well laid out rules.

I was shocked one time when my oldest had a friend over and I found out that she(the friend) had been making calls on her cell phone up in the bedroom. And invited another friend over to my house. All without my permission. Yes, my daughter should have been more aggressive in the way she told this friend that it was not a good idea.... Okay, first of opinion is that she shouldnt have even brought the phone with her. Much less used it without permission. The way I parent my children may be different than others, but it is no surprise. I am very open and upfront with other parents on what I think is okay and not okay for my child. So, if you choose to let your child have a cell phone, but know fully that I do not then I feel like in my home it should be my rules that take precedence. If that is a problem than I guess your child need not come over. Just like if my child comes to your place and you are aware that she is not allowed on the computer without supervision and you as the parent feel that you are not up to that task then by all means let me know. And she will not come over. I understand that we all parent differently and I so get that..but be respectful of how we each parent.

And the big one...when do you feel it is okay to leave your child home alone? My oldest knows that she is not allowed to be left alone. If a parent will not be home at all times when she is going to a friends then she simply does not get to go. As bummed as she is...she also knows it is not worth the time or energy to question me on this one. Not yet. I am sure there will come a time and I am trying to prepare myself for that. I know in the near future it will come up and I am trying to find a way to take baby steps into it.

When I was pregnant with my first child everyone always said to me that the first 3 years are the hardest. I strongly disagree. Sure, at that age kids are fussy and messy and trying to come into who they are. Trying to test the waters. But, heck, arent they always trying to test the waters? It just becomes bigger waters, right? As the kids become older and begin to float out there on their own in school or sports or whatever....the parents influence does not remain the largest. It very clearly shifts to friends and outside influences. That is why as a parent you have to work even harder to make sure that your kids are well equipt to make the best decisions possible when they are not with you. Its those times that they are away from you that become the hardest. Its those things that they see their friends doing or see on TV or hear on the radio that try to wedge their way in. As the parent, you have to make sure that you are ready to put your foot in the doorway when all that stuff tries to follow your kids home.

How about you? Whats your take on it?


boogiemum said...

Oh, A-men! I feel SO the same way. I have to say that a lot of times when I differ from these parents that do let their kids do and have all these things, they suggest, sometimes not too kindly, that I am overprotective and/or mean b/c I'm the S-mom (even though hubby and I make all decisions together) Have to love it!

Once again, wishing we lived closer... :(

Barbara said...

I was overprotective when my son (your husband) was little. First, I didn't like letting just anyone hold him. Second, I wouldn't leave him with anyone I didn't consider family. Third, until he was about six I didn't let him play outside without an adult in the yard. I do not remember when we started letting him stay alone at the house. I remember that when he got the point where I thought he was probably old enough to take care of himself for a few hours, I decided he was old enough to get into trouble if I left him I didn't. Maybe high school? For an afternoon? I don't remember ever leaving him overnight at the house by himself until he was what I considered grown -- after high school? I will also say he was good about staying with the rules when he was away from home - at least as far as I know.

I mention all this because it was before the internet, before MySpace, before cell phones. For that time, I was considered overprotective. As you know, they will not die of embarrassment even though they think parental restrictions will kill them.

I do not understand why anyone under 16 needs a cell phone. I do not think it is wise to let kids have parties without adults in the house. I do not think kids should ever be with people the parents don't know. I do not think it's a good idea for anyone under 14 or so to be alone in the house, and totally unreasonable for anyone much under 18 to be alone in the house overnight.

Read the paper, watch the news. It's not over-protective -- it's common sense.

beth said...

Great to read about like minded parents...
We have no cell phones, no TV and very little computer time. I have let my kids know that some day when they are older(much) they will most likely get a cell phone for emergencies. Yes, I am the "weird Mom" but now the other parents are used to it and ask if my kids can watch TV or play a video game.
We talk to our kids a lot about these issues and how it is not automatic to do what other kids do, or have what other kids/families have.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your parenting style and intend to be the same when my children are older. With one exception. We're going to let Aden have a prepaid emergency only phone because of her anaphylaxis. That way she's always connected (can call 911 or us) if something should happen. Especially since she may also have excercise induced anaphylaxis.

J.J. said...

I agree with the cell phone. My 12 year old is never anywhere that he can't reach me, at school there is a land line, at ball practice there is an adult with a phone, etc. As far as staying alone, I think it depends on the child and not the age. I've left him home alone while I run up to the neighborhood grocery store. He knows the rules about answering the door (don't), answering the phone (mom's busy, take a message, then call me on my cell). He's not ready to stay home in the evenings alone because he's afraid to still. We also have good neighbors that keep an eye out for us. You'll know when she's ready.
The computer is a whole other story. I go on every website they want to go on first. Luckily the only ones they want to go on they get from school or ones that have been recommended to them from people I know and trust. They are not allowed to go on chat sites and as of now they have no desire to. We've talked about that alot around here.
Trust your motherly instincts on everything. You are a fantastic mom. It's just hard to let them grow up and make decisions on their own.

frugalmom said...

boogiemum: I am not a stepmom and I still get that from other people. That I am too strict and need to allow them to do more things.

beth: Thanks for stopping by. We, too, are very open with the kids on why we make the decisions that we do. I feel like that open communication is a must.

farm mom: I understand how your daughter would benefit from having a cell phone when she begins to be away from home more often. For emergencies, I think they have saved lives. Indeed.

J.J.: That is a good point. Every child is different and I too, think that you have to make your decisions based on your specific child. Even if that means not all of your children getting to do certain things at the same age. It really does depend on how each child is and when they are ready.

Sandy said...

Hi, I agree with you - weren't those first 3 yrs so easy? I look back to when my kids were little. Piece of cake. Our two oldest do have cell phones and actually have a lot of priviledges. They are responsible and it works for our family! :) We have strict rules where our kids are going etc. Just can't be too trusting these days! If you get a chance, read No More Jellyfish, Chickens or Wimps. Great book!

Henny Penny said...

I hear you. I doubt I'll make the same decisions when my kid is older, but my hubs and I are already thinking and discussing this.

Anonymous said...

Raising children becomes more difficult when you can no longer tell them what they think. Once they learn to think for themselves it doesn't get easy until...well, my oldest is only 23 so I'll have to get back to you on that.

My house, my rules. It never takes more than two "we don't do that here" for visitors to figure out I mean it.

My 14 year old does need a cell phone. I need her to have a phone. We live 20 miles from the high school and she's active in after school activities. I'm not willing to turn her into the kid who borrows a phone and uses air time someone else pays for. She has a pre-paid trac phone. She's used 23 minutes since Christma.

We've taught the girls the difference between good and bad, how to think for themselves and how to make smart choices. They have a lot of freedom with the understanding that if they screw up once life as they knew it was over. They've never given me any reason to not trust them. They know our expectations are high and they respect that. Even at 23 my oldest calls to ask our opinions and suggestions when she's in doubt.

All that said, we live in a very rural area in a tiny community of 67 residents that hasn't had a police report of any kind filed in several years. It's 2008 but we live in Mayberry RFD. No videos, little tv, lots of fishing, kick the can, hanging out with friends at our store fireplace in the yard and no mall for 100 miles. It's hard to get in trouble when an entire community is keeping an eye on you and knows your parents' phone number! =)

Love your blog! I followed a link to it this evening and have been reading.

frugalmom said...

seasonseatingsfarm: Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you like the blog. Raising kids is hard...but well worth it. I think if you empower kids with good ideas and information it is much easier for them to make better decisions. It is for sure a learning process all the time. You are never done!