Often I will hear the parent of a school-aged child or children say they eagerly await the time when their young one turns 18 and they no longer have to worry about them. My brother Dave and I share a laugh when we hear that, as we — along with anyone with grown children — understand that there is no magical age when you stop worrying about your kids.
“When they’re little,” my brother has often said, “you just have to worry about keeping them alive.” He’s right. Make sure they look both ways before crossing the street, refrain from putting keys into the electric sockets, stay away from unfamiliar medicine bottles, don’t run with scissors, and finally, understand that if they cross their eyes, they might stay that way.
What keeps a parent awake when it comes to their adult children are worries about their job security, concern that they are making good decisions for themselves and their families, confusion about what our limits as parents should be when it comes to money or advice. Oh, and wondering if they remember that if they cross their eyes, they might stay that way.
That being said, I must admit that children between the ages of 10 and 18 are about the most stressful responsibility when it comes to parenting. You want your children to become independent, but are just hoping and, yes, praying that all of the lessons you have been teaching them — or trying to, anyway — have been heard and learned. Because let’s face it, for the most part, they are on their own. They will tell you the truth or not. They alone will face the peer pressure and the temptations. They will learn that it often seems lots more fun to be naughty than it is to be nice, no matter what Santa Claus says.
When my siblings and I reared our children, it was tough enough. But that was before social media reared its ugly head. Our children might have faced teasing by some kids in their class. There might have been a class bully who picked on our little darling. But the harassment was a lot — A LOT — more limited. Nowadays, if a little brat want to bully your little darling, they can do so on a mass scale using any number of social media platforms. And a picture is worth a thousand words, even if the picture is untrue or misleading.
What’s more, social media provides total anonymity along with allowing nearly limitless access to what your child sees or posts from their own cell phone. Just about anyone can reach your child via social media, and your child can reach nearly anyone right back.
Yikes. I’m scaring myself.
At the end of the day, I’m confident that our children are teaching their children to be wise about social media, to have confidence in themselves so as to ignore peer pressure, and to understand that they all have lots of people who care about them and are watching out for their welfare.
Remember kids, we’re always watching you!