|Of course my kids have friends.|
One of the ways I know that I'm getting better is how incredibly hilarious I found this random exchange I had today with another parent.
Our kids are in the same swim class, so we were chatting while the kids were in the pool. Hanging out with other parents during swim lessons is a cross between jury duty and being at the worst cocktail party ever -- you're just sort of thrown in with these other random adults that you don't know.
Anyway, today we happened to be chatting about kids and social media. I shared that my older daughters are 12, and while they do have cell phones for emergencies, they're not on Facebook, Instagram, etc. I'm genuinely not judging parents whose preteens are on social media; for a plethora of reasons, I just don't think it would be a good choice for my kids.
Anyway, the lone dad in the room proceeded to lecture me about how I'm too strict with my kids, and that if I don't give them freedom, they'll rebel. I said that Facebook requires you to be 13 to join, and when they're 13 it's something we'll consider. I'm really not comfortable teaching my kids that they have to follow some rules but not others. They also know that "their" cell phones really belong to their daddy and me, because we pay the bill. If I ever see that they have used their phone during school hours, or that they're texting people I don't know, they will no longer have cell phones. Period. And considering that I have blue hair, it's not like I'm really that conservative. My kids will have to turn into Alex P. Keatons to sufficiently rebel.
And seriously, this guy would not let up. I certainly don't feel like I have to explain my parenting decisions to other people, but I also kind of suck at just dropping conversations like this. Random Concerned Dad said that social media is important, and I explained that since social media is pretty much my actual profession, I understood that. And that my kids do use the Internet (with supervision, obvs) but that no 12-year-old actually needs to be on social media. You want to put your kids on it? You go for yours.
Look, my kids will be on social media eventually. Of course they will. But why would I rush that? They have the whole rest of their lives to deal with the ridiculous drama of Facebook and Twitter and everything else. Plus, there's the added fact that my kids haven't asked to be on social media. You know...because they're 12 and they see their friends in real life.
Aaaaaand it kept on going. This super-knowledgeable dad told me that they're 12 now, but before I know it, they'll be 13. (Yes, I can do math, too!) And then everything changes in the blink of an eye. Okay. Fine. I was a teenager and I did all kinds of crazy stuff, and I'm grateful every day that I did all of that craziness before social media was invented to record it all for eternity.
But the thing is (I explained), as parents we have to pick and choose the freedoms we give our kids. What works for each family is different. What works for us: school and family are the priorities. Extra-curriculars, which are limited, are important and fun, but secondary. Real friends are real friends, not people who just clicked on your photo.
And here is the clincher: I was thisclose to faking a phone call to end the conversation, and this man's final argument was, I kid you not,
"But aren't you worried that they'll be socially...weird?"
BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I almost couldn't speak because I was laughing so hard.
Our geeky kids are also exceptional students. They are kind and thoughtful and they volunteer in their community. They are and have good friends. My daughters are Girl Scouts. My oldest daughters are Red Cross-certified babysitters who are happy to work with special needs kids.
They are incredible, wonderful kids.
So tell me again how I'm doing it wrong?
(Photo via: R2-DB)
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