When I was 10 I thought a Doctor put a baby inside the Mothers tummy and then cut it out when it was big enough! Then a year later, I thought it came out of the anus. I know! so weird, but my family weren’t keen on early sex education. In fact, Mum didn’t sign the consent form in year 7, so basically I relied on what other kids told me, what I listened to adults whisper and what I made up my own mind.
Fast Forward to the teen years and the thought of an old person ( a 40 year old!!) having sex was enough to make me dry retch. In fact I told Mum that she made me sick when she fell pregnant with baby number 4, just a couple of months after having baby number 3.
I’m the oldest of 5 kids, so I was the ‘test kid’, the kid that parents test out all their shitty parenting techniques. Don’t act shocked, you know it’s true. My parents were super strict on me, it was an era of “eat everything on your plate”, “don’t speak unless spoken to”, maybe not quite that bad, but smacks were a common occurrence and I lived in fear of pissing Mum off. Mum had a serious temper and throwing a shoe across the room at me for being a smart ass was a part of every day life.
It wasn’t until I had my own child at age 21 that I finally understood my Mum and had a close relationship with her. Twelve Grand kids later Mum is a career Grandma with a heart of gold. She also knows her faults and has apologised for poor choices in parenting. She’s a good egg.
Anyway, this isn’t about my childhood, though inevitably our childhood sneaks through in our parenting style unless we are very conscious of it and work on changing patterns in behaviour.
I like to think I’m a good Mum. This hasn’t happened over night. I’ve been parenting for 18 years now, some of my parenting decisions were shitty AF (that’s ‘As fuck’ for those not up with the lingo)..haha. I started off all ‘militant’ and ended up “hippy as”. I am an intuitive , gentle parent these days. It’s much less stress when you give up the things that don’t matter and focus on what does.
My middle child is 11 in January and very much a pre teen. The years have been challenging for him at times, broken relationship, dysfunctional behavours, court system. It’s been hard.
The last 12 months we have really focused on stability. The constant element has been love and communication.
Last term Mr.10 came home with a form for sex education at school. It was a non issue , we have an easy relaxed style of parenting. He wanted to go, we signed the form.
Last year Mr.10 asked me what a Prostitute was. I answered in simple language that was age appropriate. He then went and asked his step Dad. Clearly Mum’s don’t know everything and “cooler” step Dads do!! haha
Mr.10 has strictly monitored internet access, because we want to have as much control over his world, for as long as we can. We live in a world where kids have access to things we hadn’t even heard of, until we had the intellect and emotional maturity to deal with.
I asked my husband what it’s like to be a man, also what it was like to be a boy. All the bizarre questions wives come up with. I also asked about his access to porn as a pre teen.There was basically a stolen magazine and the potential for a serious punishment.Now kids have instant access to things via phones, the internet and even the content on T.V is far more graphic.
I told my son when he googled “boobs” that even though it’s absolutely “normal” to be curious and want to see boobs, the internet is full of horrible violence against women. That with each click on link or pop up it could lead it him graphic violent sex, that watching these things might change how he feels about women, himself or the world. That once we are exposed to things it changes us. When we lose that innocence for things we can’t get it back. I am not anti porn (though its not something I actively look for) I am anti ADULT things which a child with a developing brain could easily stumble upon, I also told him that it would set him up for disappointment when he was ready for a relationship.
Porn is far from the worst problem, there are people who use the internet to contact children. It happens and not just to wayward kids, but kids from loving families. Think your kid wouldn’t chat with a stranger? think again, unless there are absolute hard and fast rules it’s possible. Pedophiles pose as kids in gaming chat rooms.
Then there is online bullying. No social media, no bullying. It’s a HUGE problem and something a pre teen doesn’t need to be a victim of. Let’s get all the tools and self esteem in place ready for High School and social media.
This post was about my best parenting tips for helping your pre teen navigate the world so here they are :
- Rostered Computer/screen time. We print up a schedule of allocated time, so there is no confusion. Time off being active ; riding a bike, skateboarding, dancing, reading all lead to good self esteem and health. Find one thing they enjoy if they are techy geeks like my son.
- We check computer history, if anything thing is deleted during his allocated times, there is a discussion and a punishment (so far so good)
- There is to be no social media. No Facebook, snap chat, chat programs, emails. Nothing. Any accounts made means instant removal of internet privileges.
- Honest open communication. Even when you cringe, even when you feel embarrassed.
- Age appropriate info, don’t give too much or too little, you know your child.
- Healthy food, lots of water. Growing brains and bodies need good nutrition during this fast growing period.
- adequate sleep.
Love and understanding by the bucket load. Remembering how hard it was when our hormones started going crazy!
Mr.10 has open forum to ask what he wants, when he wants, knowing we will answer the best way we can. If we don’t have the answers we will find out. He also knows things are open for negotiation each year. At this stage he will have access to a basic mobile phone when he goes to High School. A phone for making and receiving calls only. He will be allowed to join Facebook at age 16, only if we have seen that he is emotionally ready to deal with online drama and relationships.
He tells us that children in his class all have their Mums old smart phones, that they have access to whatever they like. We tell him that’s up for their parents to decide, but while he lives with us, we will continue to make his life as simple as possible.
Just Wingin it
Diffusing : Clarity
Listening to : the cat complaining about lack of attention
Wearing : PJ’s and peace and calming