Being Involved Matters (Even When They're Teens)
Learning how to be engaged in our kids lives, even their online lives, matters more than you think. And it's not just with teens.
“Mom, check out this hotel.”
I froze mid-step on my way through and admired my son’s handiwork. “Oh, cool. Is that a pool?” For the next five minutes I watched and listened as he took me on a virtual tour of his new hotel.
My son is fourteen, not forty. His hotel was created in Minecraft, not on a professional architectural website. Why would I care about something he made in a video game? Surely, I had better things to do with my time?
It is so incredibly important to be an involved parent. Do I sit and play video games for hours, or watch intently someone else play? Of course not! So then why did I interrupt my schedule, again, to express interest in his game? That’s exactly why—it’s his game.
I want to take an interest in the same things my kids are interested in, whether it be a video game, what book they’re reading, who said what at school, or even their social media.
Know Social Media
Speaking of social media, recently we encountered a little snafu with one of our children and his social media site. It had to do with certain followings and posts that appeared on the feed.
We came across it completely by accident (I am forever grateful that we did), but because we found it, we needed to tackle it head on. Let me tell you, it was almost the last thing I wanted to do that night, right up there with kissing a snake. But if I didn’t do it, who would?
Thinking about the lasting effects on my kids if I don’t play an active, engaged role now, as their parent, is enough to motivate (okay, sometimes scare) me into trying to be the best parent I can. Even if it means, at the time, I seem like the worst parent.
Talk About It
After the social media incident, we had a long talk with our son. It was amazing. He agreed, understood, shared it had not been intentional but saw it from our perspective, and in fact, the next day his social media account had already had its “spring cleaning.” I shudder to think if I hadn’t checked the feed, what kind of attractive garbage would still be filling that young, impressionable soul.
Why It Matters
I’ve been reminded to ask myself the question, “Am I focusing my thoughts more on the things that don’t matter, or earthly things, like making money or my own social media, or am I focused on the eternal, like being a good steward of the precious treasures I’ve been given to care for until they’re ready to spread their own wings and fly away? (Okay, so I don’t think about it quite in those words, but you get my gist).
All too often, we desire to give our kids what they want. Specifically, their privacy, in order to foster independence. Not to mention, I don’t particularly want to be known as the “Meddling Mom.” However, being involved is not meddling. We’re doing something much more worthy and rewarding: we’re parenting!
My teenagers expect random checks of their cell phones. I ask them questions about social media posts, and I expect open lines of communication as well. And you can bet I will send my son down to the rec room in the basement when my daughter has a boy over, and expect a report back on anything I should know.
I understand some have different opinions here, and that’s okay. Maybe you’re still in the infant/toddler stage and long for the day to shower without entertaining a mini version of yourself. To those of you mamas with younger children, be involved, and be present!
My children and I have always had an honest, open relationship, partly because of my involvement as a parent early on. Now, they understand why I do it.
Sure, there are things I don’t know about my teenagers—I’m not naïve, but I can only hope as they continue to grow and mature that they will want to keep sharing things as we gather around the dinner table in the evening, or in the living room before bed after cell phone hours.
This is the time to put down the cell phone, log out of Facebook, and be present, and be involved. Because at the end of my short time of (hopefully) great influence, I want to be confident my kids will soar.
Tracy Popolizio | Tracy works as a preschool teacher and early childhood consultant. She writes inspirational middle-grade fiction, with a passion to enrapture preteens in a discovery of God’s truth between the covers of a book. Tracy and her husband are navigating their way through the jungle of raising two teenagers, and have been “blessed” to experience raising both a daughter and a son. Through some family struggles that center around personal insecurities, Tracy allowed God to use these difficulties to help others through her blog. Find out more on her website, Instagram and Facebook.