we are not strict - we are just parenting
A little while ago I did a survey on 'parenting'.
With 2 teenagers, and another soon to be (read: may as well be!), I was just intrigued to see where Mr T and I sat in the realms of 'strictness'. Often accused as being the 'strictest mum on the block' (a title I'm not ENTIRELY disappointed with!! ), I was curious to see just how true this is.
It (the survey) was short, sharp and sweet and in hindsight I could have probably asked for a bit more info, but the results are super interesting as it is.
Parents - we stand united! We are not strict - we are just simply parenting!
I'll now go through the questions - you can see the results and I'll summarise various points of view at the bottom.
NB - the questionnaire has been filled out by a total of 64 people made up of parents, non-teenage parents & non-parents (and I only know that cos some people told me!)
Some of the OTHER responses were:
- find out who else is going
- speak/meet the parents of the child who's having the party
- driving to and from party & going in at drop off and collection
Some OTHER responses
- depends on who they're going with
- depends on beach (lifeguards, swimming ability, friends)
Some OTHER responses
- separation of boys and girls
- manners, manners, manners!
Some of OTHERs
- Party or Gath???
(as I understand it - a Gath (Gathering) is 15-30 people at your house, a Party is 50+ at a hall!! - FYI this is a teenage definition - in my opinion any more than 4 is a party!!! :) )
- the rest of the Others were more reiterating the available options
- lots of age restrictions on this one (taking into account anyone under the age of 18 needs adult consent anyway)
- again - reiterating available options and why
- ask more about the friend etc.
questions 7 & 8
7. How does your parenting affect your relationship with your teenager?
8. anything else you do that is/has been considered too strict.
As these were open questions, I'll start the overall summary here.
It's pretty clear we stand united.
(NB - I'm also pretty aware that this went out to mostly similarly minded people - so not an absolute overview)
BUT it's clear, we're not too strict - we're just parenting and just doing what we believe is right for our children.
You are not the strictest parent on the block.
Because it's clear from the results, that where you stand super strong on some issues, you may be more lenient on others (you're not able to see this from the above summaries, but I was able to drill down and see an individual's responses to each of the questions) So as far as I can see - it all levels out.
We all stand strong behind 'COMMUNICATION IS KEY'.
Keeping an open conversation with our children can be hard work sometimes, but for Mr T and I, it's one of the most important things. We work bloody hard at being open and honest with them - and making sure they know they can come to us at any time to talk about ANYTHING. And we do. Talk about everything.
And for the most part it's working.
For all of us.
There are times when our teenagers don't like us very much.
And that's OK. They don't have to like us all the time.
That's not our job. It's not our job to be liked.
It's our job to 'parent' and sometimes our children don't get it.
And that's ok too.
So when you're having a tough day parenting, and 'you're the worst Mum in the world' or 'no one else's parents do that' or 'I have no freedom' or 'my room IS tidy' - just remember......|
You are not alone my friend!
Now - for some specific points.
Some of these were mentioned as examples. Some are stats I've come across myself while looking into this. Some are from people who have messaged me directly. I'm putting them in here, not to scare the crap out of you, but just as food for thought. All our children are different, and we all parent to the best of our abilities - but every now and then it may be worth taking the 'rose-tinted' glasses off and just considering what we might consider to be the 'worst case' scenario and whether it's worth the risk.
Again - absolutely NO JUDGING here please, and please don't think THIS COULD NEVER HAPPEN TO ME.
FYI - some of these things HAVE happened - and to parents who you would never think it would happen.
Remember - this is a collated view of what parents have said works best for them - it's not an instruction manual! ;)
Don't let them sleep in an outside area - external garage, out-house, etc.
Nowhere that is easy to sneak out of.
Check bags before arrival - stealing small amounts of booze from parents' booze cupboards.
Either remove devices at a certain time or turn off Wifi at a certain time so that arrangements can't be made to sneak out - also nice for them to talk to each other face to face and not via their screen!
Make sure you know who is going to be at the house they're sleeping over at and have the same rules as you.
Internet goes off every Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sun at 10pm, It is not turned on until 9am. Friday and Saturday it goes off at 11pm and is turned back on at 12pm. If they misbehaviour or break rules, they lose all technology for a week.
Laptops are only permitted for homework at the kitchen bench.
Find my Phone is always on - if turned off, they get grounded - for quite a while.
Have access to their accounts - passwords, logins and do spot checks. Just don't over do it. It's a different time to when we were younger (for most of us). Social media and devices is very much how our teenagers communicate. If you take it away, or too strict with it, they'll go underground (in terms of communication) and then you'll never know what's going on.
'If you wouldn't want your grandmother/grandfather to read it, then don't write it'
Before going out, put an alarm outside parent's bedroom set for the agreed return time. The teenager has to get back and turn off the alarm clock before it goes off! (I quite like this one!!)
Daytime curfew of 5.30pm
No public transport after dark
No 'two nights in a row' going out.
Encourage them to have self respect in everything. Including the clothes they wear and how they present themselves in speech or act.
Being kept updated. Plans change - they do for everyone, but we just want to be kept up to date as to where our teenagers are.
Insisting on collecting after an evening out rather than going back to a friend's house.
Expect them to help within the household as it is the family home and like them to learn how to look after themselves.
Although there weren't any specific questions on it, it has been mentioned.
And it's an important one that I've done a bit of extra research into.
The average age in Australia for teenagers to have consensual sex for the first time is 14! (heard it on the radio - but can't find anything on the Internet to back this up)
That means there are some kids a lot younger and - older.
Either way, whether that is correct or not, they're getting younger and younger.
Talk about it.
Make sure they're prepared - and not just for the physical side, the emotional side too.
As teenagers, their brains are simply not developed enough to understand the whole quandary of emotions that goes with having sex. No matter how many times it's been talked about in class, or in the home.
When they're caught up in the moment, they're not thinking about protection. They're not thinking about what will happen when the other person shares this info with all their friends. They don't think about that if the other person does share this info with their friends, that it means the whole school will find out. That all the teachers will know - teachers listen to the kids' talk. They don't think about all the tests they're going to have to have if they do have unprotected sex. They don't think about if there ends up being an unwanted pregnancy. They don't appreciate that they're simply too young.
Not when they're in the moment.
So keep on talking about it.
Even if you think that would never happen.
Make sure they do have protection - boys AND girls. It shouldn't just be up to the boys to have protection - girls should too.
You might think they're too young to talk about condoms and that abstinence is the best policy. But they are going to have sex. Hopefully later, rather than sooner.
But it's going to happen.
Surely it's better if they're prepared.
Mistakes are made.
The short of it is, they're going to fuck up.
We all do - even adults fuck it up sometimes, so we just simply cannot expect our teenagers to be perfect.
It's not how we make mistakes, but how we learn from them and go forward - I'm sure someone of importance said something like that! And it's true.
( actually I think it's a Batman quote!! 'What defines us is how well we rise after falling!' )
And not just for our teenagers, but for us as parents too.
When our teenagers make mistakes - it's how WE deal with them, that will help them learn and rise again.
I think, ultimately we want them to be able to come to US, their parents, in their hour of need.
Cos they ain't gonna fuck it up just once!!
Again - all our children are different.
This is not a set of instructions,
I'm certainly not trying to tell you what to do - or to change your parenting - unless you want to.
If nothing else, just let this be food for thought.
And finally - give yourself a massive pat on the back.
You're doing a great job and you're an awesome parent!
Even if your teenager doesn't think so all the time.