Too old, Too fast

Ever wonder why we’re in such a hurry for our kids to grow up that we treat small children as if they’re teenagers and teenagers as if they’re adults? We let them watch the same movies, listen too the same music, provide them with the same technology, wear the same clothes, and even have a twitter, MySpace or facebook account; sometimes all three.  We let them watch movies that promote sex and disrespect and we wonder why they do the things they do.  It’s like putting cake in front of a small child and wondering why they ate it.

We don’t stop to think about the consequences of those actions.

After working with teenagers for 15 years I’ve seen the damage it does.  Heck, they’ve even admitted the damage it’s done.  It never ceases to amaze me how teenagers even know the correct way of parenting.  Even they know the difference between what they “want” compared to what they “need”.

They may “want” to watch what they want to watch, listen to songs about sex, sex, and more sex, have every piece of technology known to man, have multiple social media accounts and wear clothing so short and tight that we can see their “gender parts”, but is that what’s right for them?  I want to be healthy and fit but is my unhealthy diet and lack of exercise really what’s best for me?  The same is true for our kids.  

We allow them to get their way and we wonder why we say, “Ah, teenagers!  What can I do?” 

The answer? You can parent them and stop trying to be their friend first.

Why do we give in so much? I think part of it is because we’re afraid of not being liked by them.  We forget that their “dislike” only lasts for a little while but their respect lasts for a lifetime.  We also take the attitude of, “Everyone else is doing it.” Yes, even parents give in to peer pressure.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not talking about controlling them, I’m talking about guiding them and protecting them from themselves until they’re able to do it themselves.  Ten-year old, even sixteen-year-olds don’t have the foresight to know how one thing leads to another.  How flooding their brain with the wrong music and movies leads to lack of self-respect or multimedia leads to drama.  I’m not saying not to allow them to watch movies or listen to music, but don’t allow a ten-year-old or even a 16-year-old to watch The Hangover.  Yes, I’ve know tweens whose favorite movie is “The Hangover.”

In the case of teenagers and social networking, I’m not saying don’t allow them to have it, but at least be their “friends” so you can monitor what they’re saying and who they’re friends with.  I’ve seen facebook status’ that BLOW MY MIND and I wonder why in the world parents are allowing it.  How are they? Either because they don’t know about it or because they try to be just as “cool” as their kids.  And if parents aren’t aware of what’s going on, why not? I think it’s one of two reasons, maybe both, possibly more.  Maybe they don’t have the time or energy to give to it, or they don’t want to feel like they are “policing” their kids when, instead, they should look at it as coaching their kids and teaching them right from wrong.  They NEED us and are relying on us to step up to the plate. 

We need to take a step back and look at what we’re allowing vs. what we should really be doing. 

When it comes to our small children, let them be children and not teenagers.  When it comes to our teenagers, let them be teenagers and not adults.  Instead, teach them how to become a successful adult when it’s time to let them fly.

In summary, each parent and child is different and I can’t really tell you what you can and can’t do, all I can tell you is what I’ve seen first hand and what I’ve heard from hundreds, yes hundreds of children and teens.  If my child tells me they want chocolate milk then why would I give them strawberry milk?  In the same way, if our kids really want to succeed then why do we set them up for heartache, lowered morals and an attitude of entitlement?

Please don’t let your kids grow up too fast.  Cherish the stage they’re at right now so they can enjoy every other stage of their lives later.

~ Melanie


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