What's the biggest argument we get when we tell our kids "no"?
"But _____ is allowed." (insert your child's whiny voice and their classmate's name).
Even the most determined of us will crack sometimes when we find out it's true. Every child in your daughter's class DOES indeed have an instagram account/iPod/cell phone of their own.
Do they need all this adult stuff? They are, after all, kids. There are some exceptions, I'm sure. And I know a lot of kids whose parents had good reasons to give them a cell phone. But, I have yet to hear a good reason for kids under the age of 13 to have a social media account, when the age limit on all social media clearly states that the user must be at least 13 years old. The first thing he would have to do to get his account is lie about his age. Has anything good ever happened from lying about one's age?
I'm not sorry if I sound like a wet blanket. I'm sure plenty of people are going to think I've taken this too far. Fine. You don't have to agree, join me, or even comment. But I would like to see a majority of parents lean in a more conservative direction to save our kids from growing up too fast. If you don't agree, you don't have to. But your kids will no longer be an influence on mine.
So, I came up with a simple starter list that we parents can use as a standard to cling to. A list I will hold my kids to, despite what "everyone else is doing." Here's my list. Join me!
a. Immodest clothing - Why, oh why, would we want to draw attention to our daughter's bodies by revealing them to everyone on the street? No one in our house is allowed to wear a bikini or a shirt short enough to reveal a belly, but I would propose a guideline that puts this revealing clothing off limits to our kids aged 4-18. (Under age 4, bikinis really are more convenient for diaper changing and potty training, and after age 18, she can make her own choices.)
b. Name Brands - I don't mean to run any company out of business. But some companies don't have our wallets in mind (especially those of us with several children). Let's leave the name brands to those who can afford them. The rest of us will take the knock-offs!
2. Soda/Junk Food:
a. Soda- My kids are only allowed to have soda on special occasions. That doesn't have to apply to everyone, but may I ask what need any child has to drink soda? What if everyone stuck to the guideline of "only for special occasions?"
b. Junk food - Dessert food only for dessert, not for a snack.
a. Social Media- NO social media accounts for kids under the age 13. (It's the rule anyway!) Here's my reason, besides it not being necessary. First, we are all aware of online predators, lying about who they are to take advantage of kids. They befriend our children, who just aren't mature enough to know any better. No matter how tuned into the world they are, kids still lack the maturity to realize that even adults who seem nice might have bad intentions.
OK, so my child's argument is that she would only friend people she knows. As we know, a lot of context can be lost in a text conversation and our kids, who are naturally self-centered, can assume their friends mean something worse about them than they actually do. Do we need more drama, invading our peaceful home base? No. Let's let the home be a place where parents can help to solve conflict, not where uninvited guests online could possibly make this circus never-ending.
b. Cell Phones - The rule in our house is that you don't need a cell phone before you are old enough to drive. As my oldest becomes old enough to babysit, however, I am considering letting her use mine when she babysits. However, she will not have one of her own until she is driving.
c. "The latest electronic gear" - (be this the next gaming device, the next iPod, or whatever!) We, in our family, are very slow about making sure our kids have the latest thing. We did get a Wii for our kids and several games that encourage movement. (Since then, I admit, we have accumulated many games that do not require much movement.) Other than that, our kids each have one device of their own (with limited amounts of time). And they better be happy with them, because we do not plan to let them upgrade until what they have is completely obsolete. (They still enjoy the Leapsters from preschool days.) In our belief (mine and my husband's, mind you, not the kids'), they do not even really need the electronics that they have, but it does make long car trips a little easier.
d. TV time - I think 2 hours a day is more than enough, don't you? (Of course exceptions can be made here for a special program that is longer. That's not being inconsistent if you are talking about one program that is longer than normal ones. That's TV being inconsistent.)
e. TV's (etc.) in the bedroom - If a child has access to TV, DVD, or the internet in the privacy of their room, parents can't monitor what they are watching. Kids don't really need that temptation to disobey by watching what they might not be allowed to watch.
4. Bed time:
a. I understand bedtimes can vary with children, based on how early or late they can wake up. But, since sleep is necessary for health's sake, let's agree to let our children between the ages of 6-12 have a bed time that relates to about 10 hours of sleep. (As recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.) That would mean, if your child gets up at 7:00 in the morning, they should have a bed time (meaning, in bed, with lights out) no later than 9:00 p.m.
b. Younger kids should have more, teens might need less.
a. Can we stick with the guidelines? Kids under the age of 13 not watch PG-13 movies and under 17 not watch rated R movies? Our family goes a little tighter than this and reviews movies ahead of time for content, but I'd be happy if the general public stuck with recommendation.
There are probably exceptions to everything above. Some doctor, somewhere, may have told a parent to make sure their child gets plenty of soda each day. And maybe the visually deprived children out there require a TV on in their room all day. But, I would say for most of us, these guidelines are do-able. It may take some work or back tracking, but we can get our kids back.
I'm asking you, parents, to comment below to let us know that you're in on our commitment. If you recommend changes to the list, or only agree to part of it, fine. Note it in the comments. But let's take a stand! (And remember, it won't work if we don't stay CONSISTENT!)
Our old answer of, "If _____ jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?" isn't going to work in this generation raised on sarcasm and competing to be class clown. You know they all will answer, "Yes, of course I would. And I'll bring you too."
So now, when our kids give us, "But _____ is allowed...," we can come right back with THIS list of so-and-so's who are NOT allowed. Maybe they will feel less lonely.
And before we know it, we'll be sitting in our retirement homes, being served by a more responsible generation.
Passion Under Grace,