Iphones and teens, not always a good combination…..

February 1, 2014

The ostrich effect is the easiest parental theory to implement. There are so many heart aches avoided, so many disappointments averted and peace reigns in our home. It’s just so much easier to look away. It’s so much easier to hide under the pretense that teens need to be trusted. It’s just so much easier not to pry…..

But my wife, bless her heart, pries, sticks her head out of the sand and pokes, pokes and pokes some more. She casually mentioned to a close friend the other day to check her daughter’s texts and Instagram in order to be aware of what her daughter is being exposed to. Her friend responded: But you need her Iphone code to do that!

I have a friend that says when everyone around you seems crazy, maybe it’s you that’s really crazy! My wife and I are in the minority regarding monitoring Iphone use for our teen. The Iphone is a wonderful entertainment piece and a very efficient business tool. However, it is also a conduit to all that is dangerous with the internet.

We have been flabbergasted with the texts we have read and the pictures we have seen from girls we thought were prim, proper and respectful. Many texts each other with regular use of profanity. They send provocative pictures that would destroy their reputations if posted on one of the many social media sites available.

They seem innocuous to the ramifications that could come about with their Iphone activity. Colleges are now scouring social media to find out more about applicants. Employers are doing the same. Schools have joined this effort to monitor for inappropriate behavior. The consequences are dire.

I know it’s easier to look away, but we MUST get involved. No, a young teen has not earned the right to be fully trusted. No, they do not have the life experience to properly asses a situation and deal with it accordingly. We are abdicating our parental responsibilities by turning a blind eye to the unfettered power of the internet.

You pay the Iphone bill, you have ALL the right to monitor its use. A few tips:

  • Get the code and forbid them to change it without giving you the new one.
  • Take the phone away for an hour at a time while at home.
  • Do not allow the phone in the room while they are sleeping. Group chats keep them awake for hours!
  • Do not allow the phone at the dinner table. Today’s teens have lost the art of looking people in the eye and holding a conversation.
  • Use the taking away of the phone as a way of prodding the type of behavior you seek from them. Take it away for a week so you will see the attitude adjustment that creates!
  • On a weekly basis take the phone away without forewarning. Look at the text threads, look at Instagram and Twitter. Search her camera roll.

Parenting is a full-time job. Teens need parameters now more than ever.  They need our life experience to teach them how to deal with the constant moral threats they are receiving.  At the end of our life, we will partake in the ultimate exit interview and final entrance exam! We will be asked what we did as parents to bring our children to God. What did we do to warrant the beautiful blessing we were given? How did we protect them from harm?  Did we pry and poke?

I for one do not want to fail that exam! Eternity is in the balance…..

Mother Mary pray for us……

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It’s so much easier to just drop off our daughter….

September 23, 2012

The shame of it is that we are one of the few parents, and the only in my daughter’s peer group, that already raised a girl….now 23 years old.  That doesn’t mean we didn’t make mistakes then and that we don’t now….But if I had that resource of experience and knowledge in my parental peer group, I would certainly try to learn from their actions and try to understand their rules concerning our 13-year-old daughters….

Sunset Mall was also the location of choice 10 years ago when our first daughter was 13.  She wasn’t dropped off without supervision until the beginning of 10th grade…..  It seems my now 13-year-old, just starting 8th grade,  is the only one requiring adult supervision while at the mall.  It’s so much easier to just drop her off and let her fend for herself with other 13 year olds… 

Mind you, Sunset Mall is in a challenging neighborhood and police patrolling the mall openly talk about gang problems, drug use and petty crime. Plus, there is enough peer pressure on young teens.  Having them fend for themselves in an anthill of other teens and young adults is an unnecessary pressure on their young psyches.  There are two variables going on here. One is that with a parent close by, basic human psychology states that the young teen will be more wary of her decision-making with a parent close by.  The other variable is that if something were to happen at least a parent is in close proximity.

Regardless, it is our choice as a parent to not leave her alone regardless of how tired we are.  Yes, it’s a hassle, yes, it’s boring for the adults and yes, we rather be doing something else.. But what about parental responsibility?  Instead of helping ourselves and working as a team, covering supervised mall trips, sharing drop-off and pick ups….We will be forced to have our daughter choose a different peer group…A group more in line with what we believe to be responsible adult actions.

For at least the remainder of this year. my wife and I will go to the mall with our 13-year-old and have an old fashion date night.  That way we share some one-on-one time with each other and are there for our daughter as well….

Hopefully one day she will understand and appreciate the tough choices we make.  These choices however, shouldn’t be made tougher by parents that should be part of our support network….


Family vacation and Mass….Not mutually exclusive!

July 9, 2012

As we were nearing our destination of our first road trip this summer, we passed by a Catholic Church. My backseat was filled with two,  just turned teen girls and my daughter, a soon to be teen. As I was focused on finding the hotel my daughter stated, as a matter of factly, that we were passing a Catholic Church and one of her friends asked me to drive slowly to see what times the Masses were on Sunday! 

Now, I shouldn’t have been surprised and was in fact very proud that my wife and I apparently got through at some level to our daughter!  And it speaks volumes of the upbringing the parents of her two friends had done.  But I was surprised at this brief moment of religious clarity on their part.  I had spent 3 hours hearing the latest music, most of it sung by the three at the highest possible decibels, listening to gossip on boys and of course the requisite whining on material items they wished they had.

But at that specific moment they had a beautiful pause, albeit it for a brief instance, to wonder about Mass times!

I remember not too long ago on my walk how Mass was reserved just for Sundays and when we took  a vacation, it wasn’t only from work or school – but also from other “responsibilities” like Sunday Mass.  

One of the first things we  have done for years, is to seek out a local Catholic Church close to the area we are vacationing in.  It has always been a wonderful experience.  We learn about the universality of our religion and enjoy the different cultural differences each community has to express in a Catholic Mass.

In this past Sunday’s case the priest was there to greet each family before the Mass as they entered; not afterwards like at our parish.  This parish has the custom of having all parishioners share in the Blood of Christ as well as in the Eucharist.  We all share in the same faith but it’s really interesting to see how different faith communities worship  – while still staying within the parameters set by the Catholic Church.

We had a wonderful, relaxing and fun vacation, including a spectacular sunrise enjoyed from our room every morning.  The least we could do was to take an hour to thank our Lord for the wonders he has given us, as well as to thank Him for the opportunity to vacation as a family…. 

As this summer starts I hope we all share the same Mass opportunity with our family.  I am listing below a link to be able to find a Catholic Church and Mass times in whatever area you are vacationing.  Just input the zip code of the area you are visiting. Make this a natural part of vacation planning for you and your family!    www.masstimes.org or 734-794-2100.

                        Sunrise at Melbourne, Florida


Tweens and high heels….what a funny combination!

June 9, 2012

My daughter celebrated her 13th birthday last weekend….even though it’s not until August! One of her closest friends is also a summer baby and is leaving for Spain for the summer…So of course they came up with an idea of celebrating their 13th first teenage b-day together. She promises she won’t ask for another bash on her real birthday in August… wish me luck on that one!

My wife and I are on the same page in not allowing our daughter to wear high heel shoes….So our daughter, the lawyer to be, came up with a compromise – wear platform shoes! Hey, they are actually not heels, but still 2-4 inches high; depending on the type of shoe… Since my wife and I are learning not to make every decision World War 3 and trying to choose what battles to fight, we let her buy a pair of platform shoes….talk about viral communication…. Every single girl at their party had huge platform shoes!

It was hilarious to see the girl’s tower over boys of the same age since the boys have not yet begun to develop their bodies….yes ladies, I know, even as adults we still haven’t developed our brains……. We parents had a ball watching these otherwise coordinated girls trying to maneuver their platforms! It was a miracle there were no broken ankles! My wife went to the girl’s bathroom at one point and saw about 10 girls on the floor exchanging shoes with each other because they were so uncomfortable! About mid way through the night most of the girls were shoeless…beautiful, fanciful outfits and no shoes! I have to give my daughter credit though, she actually took a second pair, these were flats, and at least wasn’t barefoot the rest of the evening.

It was your typical pre-teen party, with the boys goofing off and the girls dancing by themselves. At one point there were around 100 tweens partying. My wife and I couldn’t believe we made it through that night! We learned one important lesson though. We could have been stricter with the heels issue, but we already raised one girl – now 23 years of age. We know we have many, many rounds of battles in front of us. Many battles we had with our eldest daughter were great learning experiences for us.…

Hopefully we are wiser with our youngest…. we are definitely more tired! But we learned that by giving in a little, with something that didn’t involve a moral issue, she had fun and learned a big lesson about heels, platform or otherwise!

In fact, this evening they are off to another birthday party and guess what! They are all wearing flats!