Recently, I spoke to a friend about our youth and how we’re making them grow up way too fast. She knew someone who had modeled for “Seventeen” magazine and was 25. Good grief people, no wonder our kids want to look older. We’re putting people eight years older than them on the cover of a magazine modeling what THEY should look like! When I was growing up, we didn’t worry about make-up. We didn’t worry about boys. We didn’t worry about things grown ups did. You know why? Because we were KIDS. I think somewhere along the way, we have failed to allow our kids to be kids. Between Toddlers and Tiaras, 8th grade proms, and 16 & Pregnant, we have told our kids to grow up way too fast. And I am putting my foot down. I want Emma to enjoy her childhood. I want her to play in the mud, chase lightning bugs, and look under her bed before going to sleep at night. And I want to be mommy. I want to be there to experience all these things with her and encourage her to be this child. The one that’s care free and not always concerned about life and what’s next. The big question is how do I do this? I don’t think there’s no fool proof way, but I think there’s a way to start:
*What she watches- When I was growing up, we had restrictions on what we watched on tv. I remember always being so embarrassed that I couldn’t watch some of the shows my friends watched. I would usually try to play along and act as if I knew what they were talking about, but for the most part I would try to say as little as possible. If I didn’t say anything, maybe they wouldn’t know. Is this to say that I wasn’t allowed to watch anything? No way. For the most part, we were able to watch the same shows my friends did but there were exceptions. And there were also time limits. We weren’t allowed to sit around watching tv non stop. There were chores to do and fun to be had using our imagination. We want to be this way with Emma. We already don’t let her watch a lot of tv. We have dvd players for the car that we’ve only used once. We used them while traveling on vacation and didn’t use them once we got on vacation. It’s just not how we roll. I have a friend who said she saw an elementary age child in the theater when she went to see an R rated movie. Are you KIDDING me? Does that parent need to be slapped? Because I could do it. There’s a reason there are ratings on tv shows and movies and we should respect those as parents. Furthermore, we should investigate the tv show or movie before hand. Just because it has an appropriate rating doesn’t mean it falls in line with what you believe. Also, cling tight to what God has to say when it doubt. Your kids are what they watch. As it says in 1 Corinthians 15:33, Bad company corrupts good character.
*Who she’s with- When I was growing up, my parents kept a close eye on who my friends were and where I went. I was allowed to be friends with just about anyone at school but the people I spent the most time with was monitored. My parents wanted me to have good, solid friends who would help me as I went through life, not drag me down and cause me to stumble (trust me, I was enough of a stumbling block for myself without any additional help). If I wanted to spend the night with a friend, they had to meet the family first. I wasn’t allowed to just go wherever, whenever. If my parents didn’t feel comfortable, I couldn’t go. End of story. For the most part, I was always able to go to my friend’s house so it wasn’t like I never went, there were just precautions before I went. For that, I am grateful. There are so many stories nowadays about children being abused and molested at stranger’s houses. This terrifies me for Emma. Even the best of intentions can go wrong. I was very blessed that all my friend’s parents were good people. I know part of it involves praying for Emma’s well being because I can’t control all situations, but we also have to do our homework as parents and watch where our kids go and who they’re with when they go. This also includes who our kids date. I know that it’s easy to let your kids just go and do. It’s a lot of work to keep up with who’s who and make sure they’re up to par, but guess what? Parenting is not easy. If you wanted an easy job, you shouldn’t have signed up for this one. My parents always knew all the details on the boys I liked. And the boys I dated. It was always so embarrassing to me then, but I am so thankful now. I am blessed with an amazing husband who loves me more than He loves himself but keeps God before me. They modeled for me what to look for in a spouse, which in turn, let me to J.R.
*Be honest- I want to be honest with Emma. Honesty is the best policy. When she asks where babies come from, I won’t tell her some nonsense story about a stork, I will tell her the truth. When she asks what sex is, she won’t get some crazy story about flowers pollenating, I will tell her the truth.When she asks me anything, even if it will be hard, I will tell her the truth. I never want her to look back in life and WISH I had told her something or wondered WHY I wasn’t honest with her. There may be exceptions to this on things I truly cannot tell her, but I will not lie. I want her to look at herself and her own life later on and know that honesty is important and prayerfully, she will treat me with the same regard. I want to treat her grown up enough to share the truth with her and expect her to share the truth with me in return.
*Be mom- At the end of the day, I am Emma’s mom. I love her more than any of her friends ever could. And because of that, I must remain mommy first. I hope and pray that I am blessed with those moments to be Emma’s friend, for her to tell me things she wouldn’t tell anyone else, for her to want to spend time with me more than anyone else. I also know that to get to that point, I also have to be mom. My mom was never the “cool” mom who let me wear whatever I wanted. She was never the “cool” mom who let me go to parties or out somewhere without adult supervision. She was never the “cool” mom who let me date just whoever I wanted. Is this to say I still didn’t try to do these things? You bet I did. And I got caught. And that’s when my mom was mom, not my buddy-buddy friend. She held me accountable and responsible for my actions and brought me up in the way she wanted me to go. At the end of the day, my best friend was not responsible for what happened to me or how I turned out. My parents were and they took to heart the seriousness of raising me. And I believe they raised me well. My mom may never have been the “cool” mom, which in turn, has made her now the BEST mom I could have ever imagined. My mom is my best friend. I look to her now with admiration and gratitude for the way I was raised. I am so thankful that she didn’t allow a few years of wanting to be liked take over her responsibility to raise me. She modeled for me what I want to do for Emma. I want to be her mom first so later in life she has as little regrets as possible. It is our duty as parents to raise Emma, to take care of her, to be her guardians, and then in return, my desire is that we will always remain best friends.
At the end of the day, none of these things are fool proof. I know some GREAT parents whose kids have still swayed and gone off the path they had planned. I also know some GREAT kids who came from awful homes and turned out better than anyone could have expected. I try to cling tight to God’s word and know that in all of this, He has control. I just need to do my end and He will keep up with His. How do you plan on raising your child?
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it Proverbs 22:6