If you are here on my blog, it’s a pretty good chance that you got here because of a post I wrote a few years back about teens and internet safety. Since I wrote that post in 2013, I have had more than a million hits on it and it’s been republished on a couple of other websites, including foreverymom.com. It’s like, the most successful thing I’ve ever written.
I don’t say this to brag. It’s for sure the only thing I’ve written that has gotten so popular. The reason I mention it is because I think It’s time for an update. (For one thing, many of the sites are either totally different or don’t exist anymore)
When I wrote that post, I wasn’t even pregnant yet. I didn’t have a child, and I was only two years into teaching. Obviously a lot has changed since then – I now have a two-year old and I won’t be teaching again next year. I have a new perspective.
I do not, however, have a different opinion about internet safety. I do still 100% believe in the importance of monitoring your kid’s social media and computer access. I do still 100% believe that the internet can be a scary and dangerous place. The only thing that I feel differently about is how important a role the relationship between you and your child can play in keeping them safe.
As I am raising a toddler and walking through parenthood with my husband, I am more and more convinced that the key to building a whole and complete person lies in emphasizing personal responsibility. Even at two years old, my son understands the difference between a good choice and a bad choice. He knows that a good choice will have positive consequences and a bad choice will have negative ones. The reason he knows this is because the adults in his life are lovingly and consistently reinforcing this for him through relationship. While the practical aspect of this idea changes as children grow, the concept remains the same. Love brings trust.
Now clearly we are not The Perfect Parents™. Nobody on this entire earth can claim that title. What we are is a mom and dad who are working hard to be the best we can be.
Many of the comments I received about the blog post I wrote said the same things – that I was advocating scare tactics and removing individual autonomy from the parenting equation. That is not what I am suggesting. Your children are individuals. They are going to make choices you don’t like. They are going to mess up. You can’t protect them from everything. What you can do is build a relationship with your children that promotes trust and acceptance. If your child is afraid to talk to you, they won’t. They’ll try to do it on their own, and that’s when we run into trouble.
Don’t buy into the lie that your kids are people you will never understand and will want to actively avoid. Don’t let yourself give up just because it’s hard to teach good habits and respect. Don’t believe for one second that your kids have to be people you don’t like and can’t talk to. You have the power to shape and mold your kids into genuinely good people through love and authenticity.
It’s really freaking hard to do this.
You are going to fail at this a good bit of the time. Your best efforts will be pitiful sometimes. The important part is that we are doing our best. There’s also a pretty big component of actually being the kind of person you want your kids to be, but that’s another post for another day.
Pray, work hard, be an example, love your kids. You got this.
That is all.