Lazy Parenting Hack - KNOW EVERYTHING
Monitor their phones.
Check their DMs.
Make sure they know you will do so.
I firmly believe that we, the parents, have the right and duty to check up on our kids. I also believe it is important to have an open dialogue about doing these things with them. I don’t hide it from them. They know that I monitor what apps are on their electronic devices, what electronic/video games they play, that I check their DMs, that I read the same books as them and that I call and check about parental supervision/what movies are being watched at parties (to name a few). Does this make me a control freak? An over bearing parent? Super strict?
My guess is that many of you will say yes...and I’m ok with that. I encourage you to keep reading because I strongly believe that a HUGE piece of my parenting puzzle is this. “I believe that because I have held the reigns tightly from the beginning, I am able to loosen them as they get older instead of making them tighter.”
What I mean is, if you have never kept an eye on these things with your children, all of a sudden doing so as a teen will NOT work. If grades start to fall, curfews begin to be broken, behaviour gets bad...having punishments that take away things that they have always had or had access to will be very difficult.
I believe that trust gets built over time and if we have been very strict when they are little about our expectations around behaviour, clothing, curfews etc., then the goal is to be able to loosen up as they become teenagers. If they have always let you know where they are, called when asked, come home when told, been honest and forthcoming about what’s going on with them and friends and maintained their grades, than they have built up the trust. It’s a slow and gradual progress this growing up thing. If they have always had really loose boundaries and allowed to do whatever whenever, then it is really hard to “lay down the hammer” when they are a teen. Especially as a punishment. It won’t work. This is what I believe rebellion comes from. Taking away privileges they have taken for granted and never understood as something special or earned will just be seen as you being unreasonable and a b$&ch.
I have worked hard from a young age to in still in my kids that there is nothing that they are entitled to. Everything they get to do is a privilege. From the clothes we buy them to the activities they get to participate in to anything that we spend money on/give of our time for them, for their enjoyment = privilege. And they earn these by being a positive and contributing member of our family. By building trust and not breaking it.
Have they ever broken that trust? YES, of course! And every child will. Do I call them out on it and have a conversation about it? YES. Do I provide them with opportunities to regain that trust? YES. Do I bring it back up over and over again? NO. They learn that every action has a consequence and then we move on.
I will never accept the old adage that “teenagers will be teenagers”. Raise the bar. They can rise above it, if they know why and have been taught/given the tools to do so.
My final thought on this is around a deal that my oldest and I now have...she is allowed to “gently” remind me that she is 16. I have admitted to her that I sometimes forget this because she is my 1st baby and always will be. But because we have an open dialogue, a mutually respectful relationship and she has never proven otherwise, I trust her and her decisions. I also know my time parenting her is coming to an end. In 2 years she will be off to University and on her own. This thought both scares and excites me. It scares me because I am her mom and I will always worry about her and want only the best for her. And it excites me because I see what an amazingly confident, determined and capable young woman she is becoming and I am so excited to see how her life unfolds and what she accomplishes. I know she wants to make her parents and her family proud and I believe it is this fundamental value that will keep her grounded.
We only have 18 years to give our children the tools, the character, the values and beliefs they need to take on the world and make a difference. I want to know, without a doubt, that they are ready when they head off. That is my job and I take it very seriously.