Just say no…

I’ve always been the kind of mom who struggles to keep kids young as long as you can.  We’re in this society where everyone wants to grow up too fast.

I remember my first phone.  Remember what a big deal it was to be sixteen years old and FINALLY your parents let you have your own phone in your bedroom?!  I was still limited as to how much time I could spend on the thing… but I could finally have a private conversation without having to head out of the kitchen with the curly extension cord to hide myself in a corner somewhere for a bit of privacy.  We all learned to talk in a whispered voice… and listen to the person whispering!  My best friend at the time was jealous that I was getting a phone that Christmas… my BIG gift that year.  She’d run into my Dad at the mall and he’d told her… so she told me.  I was pretty thrilled… even though she’d ruined the surprise.  A phone/clock radio in one!  It was a big deal getting that thing at sixteen!  Now… kids want cell phones when they’re still in elementary school!

When my oldest was around eight, the Spice Girls were HUGE.  I remember that year trying to find the appropriate dress for her school Christmas concert… searching desperately for something that didn’t have spaghetti straps, see through bits or cut out sides… and you wouldn’t believe how hard it was to find a pair of shoes without a heel!  I was horrified.  There were all these little girls dressed like “tarts” for lack of a better word.  I didn’t think there was any need at all… and yet… that’s all you could find at the Zellers and Walmarts of the world… that’s what was affordable.  If you wanted something half decent you had to pay the price… and that to me is so unfair!  What on earth is wrong with the people marketing to our children that they think it’s ok for little girls to look that way?

Same as now.  Here I am with a ten year old and do you know how difficult it is to find a bathing suit for her!  So many of them have padded tops.  Really… am I missing something?  Do six and eight and ten year old little darlings really need to wear tops that make them look years older than they actually are?  Why?  I get that you might want a padded top at 18… but at 8?  What are we doing to these young girls.  Why is it that we’re in a society that allows our children to grow up before they’re ready.  What’s wrong with growing up the way you’re supposed to?  What’s wrong with play and imagination.  I truly believe we’re doing something horribly wrong… a great injustice to these wonderful little beings.  So many of us look at the Jon Bonet’s of the world and wonder what’s wrong with their parents to dress little girls up in makeup and fancy dresses… waxing their eyebrows… shaving their legs… fake lashes and thick make-up… making them look grown up and God forbid I say “sexy”?  Gross.  That’s just gross.  Little girls are supposed to be cute and darling and sweet and lovely and pretty and precious… but sexy!  GROSS!  Padded tops are not for eight year olds!  No matter how much they ask.

Then there’s facebook.  I’m a fan… a big one… but do I really need my kid’s friends friending me?  They’re 10 and 11 and want to be my friend!  I’m shooing them out of my living room because there’s “adult conversation” going on… you think I want them to read my status updates and things others write?  Not at all!  I politely send a little “Thanks for wanting to be my friend” email followed up with an explanation that “I don’t have kids as my friends on facebook” followed up with an “I love seeing the pictures your mom posts and looks like you’re having a great year in your sport” followed with a “be safe on facebook” little note.  That way when I hit “Ignore” I’m not so afraid of bruising their little egos… or do they really care?  Chances are they’re only trying to get more friends than all their other friends on facebook!  They don’t want to be my friend anymore than I want them to be friends with me.  But the simple fact of the matter is… why on earth do they have facebook anyway?  So they can update their status from their Blackberry or their iPhone?

TV’s in the bedroom, concerts at five, cell phones at ten, crazy late curfews in Junior High… seriously!  If we give our kids everything right off the bat… what do they have to look forward to?  I believe there are exceptions to every rule… for example… if your family is a big “music” family and as a family you attend concerts together… then by all means… make it a family affair.  But do you think I’m saving my money to send my kid with a bunch of their friends to go see The Eagles before I do?  Forget it!  More and more I see the trend leaning towards giving a child everything an adult might possibly have or desire… and often times the child has it before the parent does!  Exceptions are made… sometimes the opportunity of a lifetime presents itself.  But for the regular… day to day raising your kid stuff… what’s wrong with making them wait? Don’t they appreciate and respect things more if they aren’t given everything immediately?  They’re kids after all… they’re going to push every boundary that you offer them so why give them too much too soon.  Surely you’re doomed if you do.

My first TV came into my bedroom when I was thirty, pregnant and placed on bed rest.  But what are we doing if we give our children so much stuff in their rooms that their rooms become their sanctuaries and they don’t need to have social time with the family anymore?  They’re tied up with their computers and video games and any number of gadgets along with their cell phones in their little caves… with doors that lock! And then you wonder why they don’t communicate with their parents!

You know…. it’s ok to say NO!  They need the boundaries.  They need the discipline.  They need to know that there are expectations placed on them.  They thrive by having boundaries and expectations placed on them… if you expect them to do well in life… chances are they will!  If you expect and demand respect… chances are you’ll receive it!  If you do it with love and communication and understanding… it’s not going to be perfect… but it’ll be pretty damn amazing.

My children have a lot.  They do… way more that I ever had or my parents ever had.  I’m sure I’m spoiling them in so many ways.  I’m so far from the “perfect” parent.  But who is?  I’m making mistakes and learning from them as I go.  But the bottom line in how I raise my kids is this… I want them to be kids… as long as they possibly can.  Because the fact of the matter is you’re an adult… with adult crap and adult stresses a lot longer than you’re a kid.

And wasn’t it so much nicer when you were a kid?

Prada made a “Faerie Habitat” in the woods with her daughter today.  It was pretty awesome.

“Little-One” got her sons cell phones when they moved to Dubai… totally different circumstances.  I would have done the same.

High heels belong in dress up trunks… so do boas and cowboy hats.  There’s nothing funnier than seeing your son wear all three at once!

It’s been a long time since I was pregnant and put on bed rest… but I still have the same TV… just like I have the same clock radio.

Sporty Spice was the cool one.

7 Replies to “Just say no…”

  1. Could not agree with you more on this topic! I remember getting my 'clock radio telephone' when I was in high school.

  2. I love this blog, I think it is my favorite to-date…..you have hit the nail on the head my friend

  3. I agree! Coming from a Mom who often says NO but feels like she says yes wayyy too much.

    Great Blog….now I'm ready a book on parenting teen agers effectively. Any advice? km

  4. I totally agree and you've said it perfectly. Have you seen the ad for Booty Pop?!!! Puh-leaze!

  5. Wonderfully said! I wonder sometimes if his peers are going to laugh at him because my son doesn't have any kind of video game unit (not even a wii) and so therefore knows nothing about them, and instead loves to play with bubbles and his cars and other kid things. And he's only 4! That's the pressure I get just from observing around me. I'm so glad I have a boy! The parents of girls have it worse. There's a term for those little girls who try to dress older and sexier than they should: "prosti-tots". It sounds as sick as it is.

    Come visit my website for a message somewhat on the same idea…