I came across this article today, and I gotta say, I’m seriously confused…
Since when do I as a parent need a law or any sort of permission to see my child’s text messages? Since when do I need permission to know exactly what’s under her bed, exactly what she is watching on television, or exactly what she is looking at online? Since when do I need permission from some government entity to be actively involved in my child’s life? Since when do I need permission to be a parent?
Call me crazy, but I think that parents have one of the most important (and often underrated) jobs in the world. I don’t say that to make myself look good, or to toot my own horn. I say that because it is the God’s honest truth. From the very moment of conception, men and women are entrusted with the very daunting task of bringing new life onto this planet. They must care for and nurture and raise the next generation of humans and help them to become well-adjusted productive members of society.
That’s the goal anyway. Sometimes, it just doesn’t go according to plan.
All parents make mistakes. All of us. There was never a child born on this earth that came with an instruction manual. Not even Jesus. And if any kid was going to come with an instruction manual, you’d figure it would be the son of God. Nope, we parents are thrown into these jobs with no training, no instructions, no guidance, and no safety net. We are given one shot to do our jobs the very best we can, and we can only pray that our best is good enough.
I don’t know about you, but my idea of good parenting is being involved in my child’s life. Yes, there are days when I get frustrated. Yes, there are days when I raise my voice, when I need a break, when I question whether I’m even fit to be a mother. But even when I am at my wit’s end–exhausted and feeling like I’m one toddler tantrum away from having a complete mental breakdown–I can’t let myself give up. See, I’m a parent, and if I give up, who is going to step in and finish the job?
Feel bad for Cadence if you want, but she’s living in a home with parents who feel it is our duty to be actively involved in her life. Sure, right now she’s 2, so actively involved means lots of playtime and healthy snacks and teaching her to clean up her toys and use the potty. But as she grows, so will our list of responsibilities. See, it’s our job to know who her friends are, who she is spending her time with. It’s our job to make sure she is behaving in school and completing her homework. It’s our job to make sure she abides by rules and curfews. It’s our job to instill morals and values, to teach her the importance of being honest and respectful of others. It’s our job to know how she spends her free time, what she likes to watch on TV, what she looks at when she goes online, who she is calling and what she is texting.
Does that mean we have to act like prison guards and scrutinize her every move? No. But there is a fine line between respecting your children’s privacy and slacking off as a parent.
See, I saw another headline today that got me thinking about all of this, and maybe it’s just my twisted mind, but somehow, the two stories seem strangely related…
These headlines always make me sick and, sadly, they are becoming far too common in this country. With the events in Ohio just unfolding this morning, there aren’t a whole lot of details being released just yet, but I’ll go ahead and make my predictions.
I predict that we will eventually find out that the gunman was a bit of a loner, that one or both of his parents was either physically or emotionally absent from his life. I predict that he was considered an “outcast” or that he wasn’t one of the “popular” kids in school. I predict that he spent a lot of time alone and/or unsupervised and that he didn’t have a very strong emtional attachment to any steady role models. I predict that he was likely bullied by his peers. I predict that he probably exhibited some attention-seeking behaviors that may or may not have been seen as warning signs of what was coming.
See, the thing about kids is that they need stability. They need guidance. They need someone to hold them accountable, to teach them right from wrong, and to be there to help them find their way in the world. They need to know that they are loved, that they are important. They need someone to give a shit.
So yes, I’m going to make it my business to know my daughter’s friends. I’m going to make it my business to know her teachers, her coaches, her mentors. I’m going to make it my business to find out how she spent her day in school. I’m going to make it my business to have conversations and to stay informed and to tell her I love her every chance I get.
And someday, when (if) she gets a cell phone, I’m not going to need some stupid law to give me permission to read her texts if I feel the need to. That, my friends, is just plain stupid.