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?