I love my stepson. I do, He is awesome. But like many other kids those manners you have been teaching since embryo stage applies most often when you child is a guest in OTHER people’s homes. It’s so not cool to use those manners where you live! It simply is not done!
“Oh he is so helpful!”
“How do I get a child who helps me clean up the kitchen, set the table, walk the dog, and helps make the salad?”
“He is the PERFECT guest! And so articulate and conversational!”
Yes, I love hearing all this nice things….but here I sit laughing to myself that I wish I knew that person inside the four walls of our home!
Perfect manners. Outside the house.
Here I have a mutant ninja teenager. He loves the inner sanctum of the bat cave, err his room. Enter at your own risk.
Or the gaming palace, errr I mean the FAMILY room.
Want to make a teenager twitch? Have the temerity to actually sit in the FAMILY room and use it for anything OTHER than video games. Or hide their phone for a few minutes.
And when said beloved teenager is in the FAMILY room, you see him practicing to be a future corporate mogul and reclining like Julius Ceasar. He has the head set on to communicate with his friends (and sometimes I swear they are more on the head sets to communicate than game). Then he has the super battery charger thingy in case he needs to plug in, text messaging/snap chatting/whatever on the phone, and for the technology trifecta, the tablet….with another game going on.
Teenagers contrary to popular belief can actually multitask VERY well and ever so efficiently….it just has to be something that interests them. (Which aren’t parental units, naturally.)
When a certain someone was a little boy he loved hanging out with us. He even showed interest in the kitchen. When he was 10 he used to make me his world class favorite snack: he would cut up an apple, put it on the plate and carefully like he was mortaring bricks, would spread on peanut butter and even drizzle a little honey. And we would make hot cocoa together.
But at 17, you do not get that. It is about friends, school, girl friend, gaming and not necessarily in that order. Parental units are to be tolerated and used for rides to get places or buy stuff. It’s not cool to hang out with the parental units, I do actually remember that much from being a teenager myself back in the olden days of yore.
Living as the only female human in the house I have resigned myself to a couple of things. One is socks form their own strange colonies along with random piles of dirty clothes. The second is laundry looks much better when artfully displayed on the floor aroundthe laundry hamper.
Another thing is the male of the human species have their own special, often somewhat primal non-verbal language. They can move about the house essentially grunting to each other and well sometimes the female feels somewhat invisible….until you cook or bake something that smells REALLY REALLY good.
One thing that doesn’t seem to happen very much in my house anymore are family dinners. Teenager might turn into a pillar of salt or something if he couldn’t spend his time after homework on his games with his friends. So I have pretty much given up on that ideal. Which saddens me, but too many instances of teenager face (that special they are-bored-don’t-want-to-be-here-face), made me give it up.
But there is one thing I won’t give up on. If teenager wants to be master of his own universe after homework, fine, but it is not my job to be the maid. Yet somehow, I end up being the maid because teenagers never seem to know where the dishwasher is where they live…you are the maid and dishwasher.
Last night I cooked a lovely dinner. Teenager did not join us. But when he got off of his games and brought up his dinner plate (which was fixed and delivered to him by his father), it once again got deposited in the sink for the fairies or someone to take care of.
Proverbial straw meet camel’s back. Time to go on strike. I am not the maid.
So I decided to do to him what we once did to a summer beach house roommate who was a supreme kitchen slob: deposit his plate back in his room on a towel with a note (as seen above). Mind you I am being much kinder to him than I was to this woman once upon a time – we took a BIG beach towel and put it on her bed and onto the towel went a week’s worth of dirty dishes and glasses and detritus she had left trailing around for an entire week. We had thought if we let her stuff pile up, she would take care of it but when that didn’t work, it was time for towel on bed. That worked and the rest of the summer she didn’t leave a mess in the kitchen.
Whether this leaving the plate back for my teenager to find will work or just be perceived as another parental unit nuisance remains to be seen. I suspect I will have to go on strike a few more times. Sorry not sorry but when I was his age I could not only cook, my sister and I were expected to clean up or help clean up.
Parents of teenagers are reading this and laughing, because you have to have one to truly get this new parenthood club. I don’t ask for much, I just want a little help and cooperation once in a while. And I am waiting for the feedback from some of my friends who do NOT have teenagers. They feel free to liberally sprinkle parenting advice and while I appreciate their efforts, telling me what to do when they do NOT have a single teenager in residence is not helpful…and I will be sitting there with popcorn gleefully on the sidelines when their kids who “would never do that” become teenagers.
Who else wishes that sometimes the easiest way to communicate with the teenagers wasn’t to send them a text even when you’re in the same house?
I am like the land of no fun in our house some days I think. And today I’m sure I will be even more because I decided it’s time for a mom vent. We’re allowed even as step parents, right? Where is my parental “dislike button” that solves all problems instantly in forever LOL? What??? There is no magic wand or button? No magic app? Come on! Sonot fair!
Take video games. I really don’t like video games, they have never intrigued me. I am definitely considered square as a result by the males in my house. What they don’t seem to get is I have less of a problem with video games, when things happen in moderation. But if you have a teen who is super into gaming, moderation goes right out the window. And all fairness to teenagers, I have seen adults do the same thing. It’s like they get sucked in and their brains with it.
And if left to their own devices kids totally into video games will literally game an entire day away or until their eyeballs bleed, whichever happens first. And some times they don’t even stop to eat or have anything to drink. And after a couple hours straight, they can get downright cranky, yelling at the TV screen and so on. And of course there is that social aspect where all the teens meet in their virtual world of gaming and talk to each other through their headphones. So how do you strike a balance without being the bad guy?
Which is why when to comes to videogames I think a bank of hours works best. When the kid goes through the hours it’s their time management lesson. Sounds harsh but I almost miss the good old days when they went outside or read a book or had an actual conversation.
Next up? Social media/chat programs.
A friend of mine commented recently on how she thinks teenagers today are actually missing out on old school dating rituals for lack of a better description. She talked about the “good old days” when you took your girlfriends to check out a guy or vice versa, the furtive late night phone calls, and the fact that we have such awesome music to choose from growing up!
Here, I found it. This is what she said:
“Perhaps technology is taking away from the teen crush/dating experience. So many ways to communicate without the dreaded visit or phone call to the love interest’s house and through the parent “screening process” or the visit to their (potentially rival) hang out (like a pond or park) and through the friend “screening process.” This, combined with bad music, makes me feel badly for them.”
To that I add they are missing out on the talking and having actual conversations that enable them to truly get to know each other because all they do is TEXT. And I also wonder if that has something to do with how dates are planned now, which is often fairly last minute.
There are a million chat and text programs and apps out there. They change as quickly as clothing styles and hairstyles. Apps come in apps fall out of fashion. Do you really know what your kids are doing on any of these apps or programs?
Where is the balance of giving them their privacy but wanting them to be safe? Some parents are overly involved in this aspect of their kids lives and some rival Captain Oblivious in this area. Where is the middle ground?
Today a member of a parenting group I belong to posted what I am about to post. I will warn you it’s a little graphic, but it’s reality. Here it is:
Hey guys……. Let’s talk PHONES. Laptops desktops. iPads and Internet. Filtering. And social media and our kids. Especially as it relates to sexual conduct. I’m going out on a branch here to open up this conversation because Id like some feedback from this group.
I have recently become aware of some VERY disturbing things going on with kids. Are you filtering? Do your kids have iPhones? Data? Are they allowed on Instagram? Snapchat? Kik? Do you restrict their access to porn? Do you allow phones in room at night? Do you allow sleepovers? Are they allowed with phones in rooms at night on sleepovers? Are you aware of parents at other houses police any of this? Do you care?
I’m curious what others are doing, or not doing, because I have been made acutely aware that they think certain “things” are considered normal and common such as “group masterbation while watching porn on phones general porn watching on phones, “bro jobs” soggy waffle (nice) “Pansexuality” anal sex among 14 yr olds and a variety of other activities that are being cast as the new “norm”.
Number one. Are you aware of this? Number two what is anyone doing to help their kids. Thanks. Hope this post doesn’t deliver *crickets* lol
Unfortunately she’s not just whistling Dixie. How do you strike a balance without being the parental hate police? Tweens and teens are by nature secretive. They also think they know everything.
I am all for electronics being taken out of the bedrooms at night. I can only control what goes on in my house, I can’t control what goes on in the houses of the kids my kid is friends with. And for the most part I’m really lucky he knows good kids. But still….these programs and apps are worrisome.
A lot of these chat things the tweens and teens use promote ugliness like cyber bullying. I’ve seen it I know it happens. One website I find absolutely vile and astounding that any parent would allow their kids to have is an account on ask.FM.
And then there is what kids post. The young teen girls in particular don’t get the whole Lolita of it all. But then again you have to look at what some of the parents are posting. No one gets it some days.
Maybe I’m more aware of a lot of this because I’ve been a blogger for a few years. Maybe I’m more aware of some of this is because as an adult I was cyberbullied for a few months straight. Or maybe I just think too much and I shouldn’t post this post after all…
Whisper , YikYak, kik ,ChatRoulette , Omegle,snap chat, Tinder (This app, and similar apps such as Down, Skout, Pure, Blendr are all about the hook up), Poof (hides apps on your phone screen),
Now this website is a faith based one, which isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, but they aren’t necessarily wrong about raising awareness of apps and what they do. I don’t see Vine as particularly harmful, either.
They left off Ask.fm . Seriously that site is vile. An article released today indicates they are trying to “clean up their act”:
LOS ANGELES — In the five months since Ask.com has taken over the controversial anonymous app Ask.FM, usage has dropped as the new owner has tried to clean up practices.
From its peak of 200 million users before Ask bought Ask.FM last summer, the app now has 150 million monthly users. Ask.com CEO Doug Leeds doesn’t mind.
“We’re in it for the long haul. We’ll get great growth when we get the message that it’s now a safe place to be,” he says.
With the app, used heavily by teens around the globe, you can anonymously ask people questions, ranging from “Do you think I’m cute?” to “why are you so unpopular?”
Before IAC unit Ask.com bought Ask.FM, the Latvia-based app was targeted by several district attorneys after teens committed suicide, apparently after bullying from users of the app.
Tech4Mommies lists their problem app list as Poof or Hide App, SnapChat, Whisper, Kik, YikYak, Tinder, Vine, and Ask.fm. CheckupNewsRoom.com lists their problem app list as: YikYak, SnapChat, Kik, Poof, Omegle, Whisper, and Down. EducateEmpowerKid.org lists as their list Tinder, SnapChat, Blendr, Kik, Whisper, Ask.fm, YikYak, Poof, Omegle, Down.
My take away is it doesn’t matter if it’s a faith-based website or just a parent-centric website, there is a commonality in as much as the list of what problem apps are. So are we paying attention to these things? Are we being too laissez faire or too hypervigilant? Or none of the above? And what are our schools doing really? Are they leaving this up to us as parents or are they really in fact an active partner in figuring this all out? As far as schools go, I’m leaning a little more towards the lip service category. It’s like cyber bullying – they seem talk a good game and have “policies” but what do they really do?
19 year old, Andrew Watts, is a sophomore Management Information Systems major (marketing minor) at the University of Texas in Austin and penned an interesting glimpse into the world of teenage (and college) consumption (or lack thereof) of the biggest social networks. We see studies day in and day out from Gallup or Pew on polling that is then interpreted by all the hot tech blogs, but very few articles actually cite real, blood pumping teenage humans. And by the time the studies are published, most likely, the stats are dated – as teenage trends move in and out so quickly. What do they actually think, in their own words, about the various social networks? Watts lays it out:
Watts states: “It’s dead to us. Facebook is something we all got in middle school because it was cool but now is seen as an awkward family dinner party we can’t really leave.” ….“Snapchat is quickly becoming the most used social media network.” He explains, the difference between Snapchat and Instagram is in the etiquette. On Snapchat people will post photos and videos of their night as it happens. The good, the bad and the fugly. On Instagram they post “the cutest one of the bunch.”…..Yik Yak is simple. There are no profiles and no followers. Anyone can post anything and it gets up or down thumbed (ala Reddit). Everything from “I just farted” to “Going to the girls basketball game tonight at 8.” He says everyone is on it before class, during class, and after class to find out what is going on around campus. Yik Yak is hyper local (only shows posts within a 10 mile radius). So he says completely unused during school breaks.
I discovered a website that seems to make things pretty pretty balanced. It’s called ConnectSafely.org . It’s geared towards teens, parents, and educators.
The thing is this: we want to encourage kids to make smart choices. We want to keep the lines of communication open as well. The problem is we’re talking about tweens and teens and they don’t want to talk to us a lot of the time. Get real ……did you want to talk to your parents about stuff you didn’t want to talk to your parents about it when you were their age?
It’s frustrating. I am the first person to admit it. And I have been at this parenting game a lot fewer years than a lot of the rest of you out there. How do you strike the balance? A lot of that balance has to do with being a friend versus being a parent. Add to that when your kids come in contact with the parenting styles of their friends’ parents. And what works and some families doesn’t necessarily work in others.
You can’t wrap your kids and cotton wool and you can’t shield them from the world. They have to experience life on their own terms, and one of the hard things I’m learning about being a parent is trusting them and letting them go enough to do that. You can provide them with a good moral compass, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to shield them from the inappropriate in life. It’s part of life, after all.
To me, I keep coming back to balance and moderation. I also have to be accepting of the things that I don’t like and what my teenager doesn’t like that I don’t like. Somewhere in the middle I think lies the answer. Rules and common sense don’t hurt either.
But as parents we can’t be ostriches a stick our heads in the sand and say. “La la la la this isn’t happening” any more than we can be the parent police. So I guess as much as it can be uncomfortable for both sides of the fence as in teens and parents, it’s an ongoing work in progress and necessary conversation isn’t it?
I will close by saying I’m a modern woman with an old-fashioned side I’m discovering when to comes to parenting. I’m not the cool parent who going to say let’s have a co-ed sleepover I think that’s bunk and to an extent asking for trouble. I am the parent who is going to ask questions, because in as much as anything else it’s how I learn about things….not just the inner workings of the teenage mind.
I try not to be the Parental Spanish Inquisition but when you’re dealing with teenagers sometimes everything is the Parental Spanish Inquisition. And in a way this is a brave new world for me because growing up there was a lot I did not feel like I could talk to my parents about safely, so I have to learn how to talk to kids about certain things.
The flip side of course is sometimes teenagers could give their parents less of a hard time. I know, I know. That is the age old battle time in memoriam isn’t it?