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Monday, November 28, 2016

Don't believe your child... trust your gut!

I love all of my kids... from the ex-steps (hard to explain), to the steps, from the full-blooded ones to the "extra ones".  We've always been honest with them, sometimes more honest than I ever thought I could be.  I try to be as open as possible with them in the hopes that they know they can be honest with me, without fearing repercussions. For the most part, it's worked.

However, there was a period of time in their lives where I made it a point not to believe them.  They all hit that age.  You know what age I'm talking about, you went through it yourself (or I bet at least 95% of us did).  I can't necessarily put a "year" on the age, like 12 or 13, but it starts around that time. They start distancing themselves from their parents, hanging out with their friends and thinking that we don't know anything.  We don't understand what they are going through. They don't hang out with their mom and dads and a simple family dinner feels to them like a you're dragging them to hell. They start keeping secrets, whispering and not sharing how their day went.

Now is the time for you to question everything.  Who are you going with, how long are you going to be gone. Where are you going and what are you doing?  Set rules and follow them.  Cell phones were just becoming popular when our two eldest hit this age.  We made them leave the cell phones in the kitchen when they went to bed and we kicked them off of the single computer we had at 9 pm.  The horrors!  Make them do chores before they leave, because if you don't, I can pretty much guarantee they won't do them when they get back.  If you get the feeling they are lying, tell them so.  Don't yell or argue, but tell them.  Yep, they'll get mad, especially if they are telling the truth. They'll get even madder if they are lying because they really thought they could put one past you.  Sometimes teens cry (usually girls) when they get caught, sometimes they get mad.  Sometimes you'll be wrong and they won't be lying.  Apologize, but don't stop questioning. If you've caught them lying, chances are they've lied before and gotten away with it.

Most teens will lie, some not more than once or twice, especially if you punish them when you find out. And by punishment, obviously I don't mean a spanking. Do something that will really make them feel the sting of their bad behavior.  Take away their cell phone and internet.  Take away their car.  Ground them.  They can sit in their room and read a book, that way you don't have to deal with their poor attitude when they are really pissed about being caught lying.  Hold them accountable.  If they are lying about something and get caught, they will blame someone else.  Tell them you aren't concerned with other's behaviors, it's your responsibility to be responsible for them.  If there are friends involved, tell their parents.  Being a parent is not a popularity contest. If you are good parent, your kids know that you love them and they'll respect you for it later one.

Tell your kids that if they are in a situation that makes them uncomfortable you will be happy to be the fall-guy.  They can use the "my mom would kill me" or "we have a family dinner I can't miss that night" story.  Just remember that if so and so's mom stops you in the store and says "oh, I wish that insert name here could join us for x-y-z but they said you were all busy that night" that you need to think fast enough and not say anything that might throw a wrench into their excuse.  Peer pressure today is so much worse than it used to be. I don't know why, but it seemed easier 30 some years ago to not do something to be "cool" or fit in with the other.

Things have changed.  There are pre-teens having sex, doing drugs, partying and so much more.  Is it because it's more "accepted", like swearing?  Is it because parents want to be a friend to their kids instead of an authority figure? I don't honestly know, but it makes me sad and scared for our country. Don't be afraid to piss your kids off.  And by the way, I've heard of parents being "bullied" by other kids.  Confront them and talk to their parents.  If their parents don't seem to care, at least you've let your voice be heard. And if the problem continues, call the police and turn the kids in for harassment.
I am grateful my youngest will be 21 in a few weeks and I'm through the worst of it.  But I worry about what is happening to our society as our youth are allowed to misbehave. What do you think about this topic?

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