Thursday, March 14, 2013

To be, or not to be... Overprotective

It's becoming almost a daily discussion - my 11 year old son not-so-subtly expressing how he feels about my "overprotective" parenting. Here's a list of things that "all" his friends have that he doesn't: a cellphone with texting capabilities, an Instagram account, Call of Duty and Black Ops for his Playstation, freedom to run around the neighborhood, and access to all the latest R-rated super hero movies.

He's 11! I'm quite sure all his friends don't have all these things, but enough of them do, to make my parenting style an on-going topic of discussion. And my go-to explanation, "I guess your friends' parents don't love them as much as I love you." just isn't cutting it!

Here's the deal. When I was in Jr. High I had to watch the Adam Walsh movie in Health. Do you remember that movie? I believe my overprotective parenting style was born when I was 12! I also live in St. Louis, where not so long ago, a Pizza Hut employee from a neighboring community kidnapped a boy, who was held for four days before being found by police. In the process though, they found another boy who had been held for four years! My son plays sports, and the high-profile Penn State tragedy required me to have an extremely hard conversation with him regarding locker rooms, and adults he may perceive to be safe but act strangely, etc...

I know that violent movies and video games affect young minds. I know that you have to be 13 to sign up for Facebook or Instagram. I know that Google+ is dangerous for kids.  I also don't believe my 11-year-old is mature enough to handle having instant access to texting, emailing and calling on a device that he keeps in his pocket. I think it's well within my normal parenting rights to exert this type of protection over him. In several of these cases I have the law (or "rules") on my side. In others I refer to my instincts. I think I'm doing what is in his best interest.

On the other hand... Is there another hand? How can I step back from doing the things I think are necessary to keep him safe, in a society that is full of crazy people and greedy business people who may very well do what they can to hurt and exploit him? Am I paranoid? Am I overprotective? Am I somehow messing him up, in my attempt to keep him safe?

Really, I'm asking you! What do you think?


  1. ok power bow...this has been my experience with my now 15, 13 and 9 year old...the two older ones have had fb and their own phones(which they pay mo. for by the way) (and the phones dont have anything but calling and txting capabilities-no smart phones,which most of their friends hav)..we are now regretting allowing them to hav fb accts. i try to monitor it and hav frequently asked them to "unfriend/hide" certain friend's inappropriatte postings or even had them inform such "friends" that they are not allowed to receive inappropriate postings. it just never seems to be enough..although there are some positive social things that going on fb like youth group bonding...there is a lot of negative like "rating kids", etc...its all so disturbing and now we are at the place where we are going to have to decide to do somthing drastic like shut fb down completely or limit is drastically, which is worse i think than not having them have access in the first place. as for the texting issue...thats a whole other thing we ate getting ready to make some drastic changs on...these things are stealing family time....even when we try to limit it..i dont know its just very difficult to monitor it all and in many ways i regret allowing them access at such a young ag...i dont think they hav the ability to handle it...

  2. i have always been the type of mom to teach them to handle the tough things (i.e.attend public school, talk to them/expose them to tough issues) as opposed tojust keeping them shielded from it all and i still believe that, but i think there are
    some unneccesary exposures that we need to shield them from and they will not understand our reasoning until they are older, but just bcause they dont doesnt mean we stilll shouldnt stick to our guns on the issue. i also think each of us was made for our kids...and there is not one decision right for all s dont misunderstand me to say you "shouldnt" allow fb or texting. i have just been thinking lately how i dont want to raise " bobble heads"...always checking whos texting, who replied to theirbstatus many of us adults do and im aware i need to do better with this as well and intend to make changes along with the kids for my own good and the goood of our is
    very counterculteral and i dont have all the answers but i know it isnt working thevway wer doing it now so some changs need to be made. sorry for the long windedness and sp. errors(as im a mommy with a masters too) but its been on my heart lately in a big wayband didnt think it was by coincidence that you had it on your heart as well....ill be praying for God to clearly lead you and give you wisdom on these things for your family,power bow, asi hope you willl do for me...i need it!

  3. Thank you so much for this, Jennifer! I really really appreciate your sharing your experience on this! It's true that what is good for one kid and family is not necessarily the answer for all kids and families, but it's so good for me to hear how it has worked and is working for you. I think it's important for me to think, too, about what kind of example I am setting for my kids, because I have a smart phone and I check my email and fb and stuff on it all the time. I definitely think that it's important for them to know that some things are ok for adults and not for kids, but I also want to be more aware of how my phone usage affects them. Thanks, again! I will definitely pray for you, as we both navigate these waters!