Inside: raising teenagers is hard and we need support more than ever. But where did it go?
Moms of tweens and teens, let me ask you a question.
If parenting takes a village, why do I feel like I’m on an island?
When my kids were little, I coveted playdates and trips to the park because I might have the chance to interact with another adult — really any person who I didn’t have to change their diaper.
When they started school, it was so easy to make friends with other parents at class parties or assemblies or the pick-up line. We chatted as we watched a soccer practice or attended a girl scout event or a dance recital. I felt like I knew the names of most of the kids and the familiar faces of their parents.
We used to talk about sleep strategies, healthy eating and discipline. We would exchange recipes and recommend doctors. We shared.
And It used to be so much easier enforcing my rules. No, I’m not buying you Lunchables because I’d prefer if you had something else. No, you can’t stay up to midnight like your friend because our rules are different. No, you can’t watch another episode of whatever Disney show you are obsessed with because it makes me want to put pins in my eyes. Easy decisions, easy parenting.
And then middle school comes along, and Bam!
The connections are gone.
I no longer meet parents at drop off line or kids at holiday concerts. Back to School Night is a flurry of running from classroom to classroom and orchestra concerts involves me arriving 30 minutes early just to save seats for my immediate family. The communication between parents is minimum.
But the irony is, parents, I need you more now than I did back then.
We need to be connected. Our kids are depending on it.
There are parties where I don’t know the parents, and kids with more independence and access to technology that is unfathomable to my overworked brain.
There is so much information out there. It is tough to sift through it all and know what’s not a big deal and what could actually be a serious threat to my child.
Raising teenagers is hard. We need to talk, more not less.
I know your rules are most likely different than mine, and that’s okay. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be looking out for each other or our kids.
We need to share if we see suspicious behavior or a dangerous text message. We need to be aware of the latest apps or Internet dare. We need to discuss drugs in our schools and teen depression and sexual assault.
We have created a culture of non-interference when it comes to raising our tweens/teens. “Let them work it out,” we say. When someone approaches us about our kids, we put the defenses up.
“How dare they?” we ask. “Don’t judge me,” we say.
I get it.
We need to let our kids figure out their relationships. We need to let them fail. Kids will grow up into more successful adults if they learn to manage their own problems.
But the dangers teens face today are so much bigger
Our tweens and teens are growing up in a totally different world than we did.
My mom never worried that I might send a naked photo of myself to a stranger or that a roofie would be put in my soda at a party or that someone was taking cell phone pictures of me in a girl’s locker room.
And while the responsibility is mine to try and raise my kids into productive members of society, sometimes we still need help.
Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know.
So, just like I tell my kids, if you see something, say something. It may be awkward and it may not be immediately well received, but it can make a difference, it could save a life.
If you have knowledge about dangerous behavior going around school, I want to know.
If you are aware of something that could affect the well-being of my child, I want to know.
If my kid is the one being dangerous, I want to know.
Send me a text or email, leave a note on my car, or do the unthinkable and pick up the phone.
But, parents of older kids, please stay in my village. It’s a scary world out there, and we need each other.