Calling All 30- to 40-year-old Teenagers
Being a parent of teens without becoming a teen yourself
I'm part of a trend, and it’s not a good one. We wanted to be aware of what our kids were doing on their phones. I even created a course that I teach on "Phone Awareness and Safety." I noticed that somewhere along the way, some lines got blurred.
It's great to be aware of what your child is texting, but where is the line between being concerned and becoming a 30- to 40-year-old teenager?
I'm seeing more and more moms gossiping about teenage girls. What? It happens faster than you think. You see a text, Snapchat, Instagram, and your daughter comments and before you know you are piling on.
I myself have gotten sucked into it, making judgments and joining in with my teenage girls, until recently, I caught myself, stepped back and said, “What am I doing?”
This is not my world, it’s their world, and I am way too involved. It is a form of helicopter mothering. Unless your child asks for your help or you see something that fits the two D’s dangerous or destructive, stay out of it!
If you see something dangerous, tell the other parents right away. It may cost you or your child a friendship, but you have to look at the big picture, and safety comes before popularity.
We are here to help all children not just our own. If you find yourself being cold or aloof to a child that you feel has been mean to your child that makes "you" the child. Rise above, be the adult you are, and lead your child by example. High road is a hard road but taking it elevates you both. Kids will make mistakes, even your kid! Lead by being consistent, loving and recognizing that everyone falls from time to time.
A few places where I see the 30- to 40-year-old teenager coming out:
Texting –Things can get ugly online, and it’s important to keep a watch on your child’s behavior and his/her phone. However, we as parents don’t need to become part of the drama. If someone is mean, don’t vilify that child, it doesn’t help. Point out different perspectives, and try to give the other child the benefit of the doubt. We, as parents, don’t want our child walked on, but teaching a child to have empathy and see things from another’s perspective raises a child who doesn’t think everything is about them. Teach don’t react! For example, if you are looking at Susie’s phone and you see a text from Megan and it says, “Did you see Jenny’s hair today, it was so gross.” Keep scrolling. There is no need for you to be involved. Your child has a choice how to respond. You have taught her to be nice. You have taught her about the phone, but you cannot be a constant hall monitor. You have to let her learn and be herself. If you tell her what to text and then tell her Megan is mean, you are being the teenager.
Now Megan’s comment is not nice and she could be testing the waters of being mean in that text, or she could be trying to be popular by putting Jenny down. If you then see your daughter Susie text back something mean, you have choice. Ask her why she felt that was a good text? No yelling. No telling her she was mean. Figure out what she was trying to accomplish by her text. Give her some examples and explain being mean may make you feel like you are in the group but is that who you want to be?
Teach! Don’t become a teen.
SnapChat – If you have it you should only be friends with your children. I understand your wanting to make sure they are not putting anything up on their stories that are damaging so watching that is fine. There is no need to follow other people’s children. If you do, ask yourself why. You are not their friend. You may love them, but they are not your peer. This app is for goofy teenage communication. You have good intentions snap chatting your daughters friends, but it can been seen as a little weird. They may only snap chat you back so they don’t seem rude. Let them off the hook and stop snap chatting them. High probability they will not snap you back first.
I saw a Dad last week snap chatting his daughters' friends…Ummmm NO…It just looks bad and well…just don’t. (Think about it).
If you are not sure if you are the 30- 40-year-old teenager then ask yourself these questions before you jump in to the drama!
- What is the problem?
- Why do I feel I need to get involved? Can my child solve it on their own?
- Am I using helping/teaching words or hurting words towards another child?
- How am I helping my daughter and the other child grow?
- Am I connecting with my child by talking about other children?
The last question is the big one. Many are using the drama to connect with their own child without realizing they are doing it. We are longing for a connection with the child that once sat on our lap so we are doing it any way we can. Find another way that is healthy and actually grows the relationship.
Be just a 30-40 year old! (Leave off the teenager part.)
Kate Paquin is the owner of A Family Coach