Home is Where Your Story Begins

May 16, 2010

Something to Look Forward To

Filed under: Life,Parenting — my3daughters @ 6:33 pm

I grew up south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  A day at the amusement park meant one thing—Kennywood!  The last ride was always the merry-go-round.  But what to ride first?  When I was younger it was off to Kiddie Land, but as I grew taller, the entire park began to open up.  Each ride had a sign where you had to be so tall to ride.  This was for safety reasons, of course.  I could stand really tall, but if I didn’t make it, I had to wait until next year.  Did I always agree?  NO.  I wanted to go on that ride NOW.  But, rules were rules, and I had to wait.  I survived.  Plus, it gave me something to look forward to.

Life is like that.  Sometimes you just aren’t tall enough or old enough or have enough money to do something.  You have to wait.  But you survive.  Plus it gives you something to look forward to.

Parents, let me ask you this—do you allow your teenager to drive regularly before they have their permit?  Do you allow your child to drink regularly before they turn 21?  No?  Why not?  Ah, because those are the rules and the rules should be followed.

Well, then why do you allow your child to go on Facebook before they are 13?  That’s a rule.  Why shouldn’t it be followed? 

“Facebook is harmless.”  “They just like to play the games.”  Oh wake up!  The rules are there for a reason, just like the ride height requirement, the driving age, the drinking age and a lot of other rules.  We don’t always agree with the rules but they need to be followed. 

Now, I’m not suggesting that you join the Sheeple in mindless obedience.  If you don’t agree with a rule, there are ways to attempt to change it.  Ignoring the rule is not one of those ways.

Breaking rules generally brings negative consequences.  How many of you have ever gotten at least one speeding ticket?  Come on, fess up.  And when you do, saying “well, officer, I feel that the speed limit here should be higher” is not going to work.  The officer will most likely reply, “Too bad, so sad, here’s your ticket, have a nice day.”

“Oh, but there are no negative consequences to allowing my child to go on Facebook before they are 13,” you say.  Really?  Is Facebook as harmless and safe as you think?  The experts don’t think so. 

“What they think is nothing can actually be pretty serious,” says Charles Pavelites, a supervisory special agent at the Internet Crime Complaint Center. (from the article 7 Things to Stop Doing Now on Facebook by Consumer Reports Magazine, http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/109538/7-things-to-stop-doing-now-on-facebook). 

 Now, to be completely honest, the “they” Mr. Pavelites is referring to is young children, but his quote applies to adults as well.  He suggests that “If you have a young child or teenager on Facebook, the best way to provide oversight is to become one of their online friends.”  I know of several young children under the age of 13 who have Facebook accounts and their parents are not on Facebook.  I know because I’ve looked for them.

Let’s bring this a little closer to home, shall we?  Do you have rules in your house?  We do.  And different houses have different rules.  Maybe they are as simple as the ones found on signs & posters:

If it’s open—CLOSE IT

If it’s on the floor—PICK IT UP

If it’s dirty—CLEAN IT

If it’s hungry—FEED IT

If it’s sad—LOVE IT

 Maybe they are more detailed.  But they are there, they are there for a reason and we want our children to follow them.  What happens when they break a house rule, say they come in after curfew?  They probably say, “But Mom/Dad, I think my curfew should be later.”  To which you reply, “Too bad, so sad, you’re grounded, have a nice day.”  You don’t allow them to pick and choose which house rules they get to follow.  We as parents can’t just pick and choose which rules to follow.  When you pick and choose what rules to follow you are leading by example—bad example.  Parenting by the Do as I Say Not as I Do rule is going to backfire on you. 

At one time or another (and maybe on more than one occasion), our children come to us (as we went to our parents) and ask to do something only to be told, “No.”  Often they reply (as we did), “Everyone else is doing it.”  What is our response?  Come on, check your parenting handbook.  We say (as our parents did), “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?”  (this may be followed by a head slap and a shudder as we think—“Oh my goodness, I sound like my Mom/Dad!”)

This is a stock reply for a reason.  It’s not safe to jump off a bridge.  It’s not smart to do something just because all the other Shepple are doing it.  We want our children to think and to act and to be their own person.  We also want them to be safe.

How do these children get a Facebook account if they are under 13?  They have to LIE about their age.  Oh yeah, let’s teach kids that it’s OK to lie.  What do you think is going to happen?  They are going to lie to you somewhere down the road.  Let’s be honest–they are probably going to do this anyway but it’s always good to not encourage it.  Lying was not permitted in my house, yet I lied to my parents.  I can also attest to the fact that there is a very good chance you will be caught in that lie.  I still remember the time I went to the mall and then to the soccer game of this guy I thought was cute.  My parents thought I was at my friend’s house studying.   On the way to the game from the mall, my muffler came off my car.  One of the dads at the game helped me fix my car so I could get home but it was understood that if I didn’t tell my parents, he would.  Busted!

So when your under 13-year-old child wants to create a Facebook account NOW (or you find out they already have), don’t just say “No.”  Explain to them that rules are rules, and they have to wait.  They will survive.  Plus, it gives them something to look forward to.  If they think it’s a stupid rule, now is the perfect time to talk to them about the ways to attempt to change rules.  Ah hah, Life Lesson Time, always a good thing.  Taking Time to Openly Communicate with Your Child is also a good thing.

If you’ve already allowed your under 13-year-old child to create a Facebook account but now you’re having second thoughts, it’s time to swallow your pride and say, “I made a mistake.”  Too often as parents we think that we have to present a perfect front to our children.  Try that and watch them laugh.  They know we aren’t perfect.  In my experience, admitting this has been a good thing.  So, sit down with them, explain your mistake and why you are changing your stand on this.  Again, Taking Time to Openly Communicate with Your Child is a good thing.

If you still feel that the age limit is too high on Facebook and your child agrees (trust me they do), why don’t you brainstorm together ways to go about changing it?  Who knows, you might succeed.  You’ll never know until you try.  What if Henry Ford would have thought of the car but then never tried to make one because he thought he would fail?  What do you have to lose?  Some time, but then, time spent with your child is never a waste.  Give it a go.  Keep in mind, though, that you are also teaching them how to approach you when they feel that one of your rules needs to be changed. 

If your child really just likes to play the games—let them play on your account.  Sometimes Gillian’s chores include Farmville ones.  Again, it’s something you can share with your child.

One last caution—even if your child is over 13, you need to monitor their Facebook account.  Keep an eye on their friends list and their activities.  Sometimes the things they post or the groups they join seem harmless to them.  They are children and they need a parent (or other adult) guiding them.  Encourage them to become Facebook friends with other adults you can trust and ask those adults to help you keep an eye on their FB activities.  In today’s world, it really does take a village to raise a child.  Just ask the girls at our church.  They will tell you that Ms Dawn (along with other adults in the church) let them know when they are doing something unwise.  We do it out of love.

Being a good parent has never been an easy task.  Today’s society makes it even more difficult.  But anything worth having is worth the effort.  Having children who grow into happy, healthy, responsible adults is worth the effort now.  Teaching your children to follow the rules, to be honest and to learn to wait can be hard.  But if they don’t learn these lessons, its going to be even harder to watch them struggle financially because they didn’t learn to wait, to see them fail in relationships because they didn’t value honesty, or have to go visit them in jail because they didn’t think they had to follow the rules. 

Parenting comes with no guarantees.  Those things may still happen.  At the end of the day, all you can hope for is that your children will stand up at your funeral and say, “I know I was loved, not because my Mom/Dad let me do whatever I want but because they did what was best for me.”  Hang in there.  I’m told it gets better.  I guess that’s something to look forward to.



  1. This is so true. I craved that adult supervision and guidance when I was younger, and because I never got it my behaviour got more and more outrageous and dangerous in a cry for attention/help. Just think of how much I could have accomplished during those years if I’d had someone telling me “No!” and paying attention to what I was doing. It’s scary how few parents actually raise their children nowadays.

    Comment by Heather — May 17, 2010 @ 6:42 am | Reply

    • The Lack of Parents Who Actually Parent is a subject for another day. Look for it, coming soon to this blog. LOL

      Comment by my3daughters — May 17, 2010 @ 8:43 pm | Reply

  2. I understand exactly where you are coming from. I believe that there is not enough accountability of the internet. I would not trust a child (especially one under the age of 13) on the internet, but then again, you can’t trust adults either.

    The internet has opened up a kind of “Pandora’s box” of problems. It opens children up to viewing explicit content, and it opens children up to potential risk from predators. These problems are not just for children as I stated before. The opportunity for an adult to be lustful, or commit adultery is so readily available that it doesn’t take much more than 1 or 2 clicks to completely throw yourself into the fire.

    I think there should be so much more accountability. Joseph will be monitored very closely when he uses the computer. The internet, although touted as something benign by most is anything but. It opens a plethora of disgusting, nasty, degrading, harmful content. I don’t know of any other place where it is possible to commit so many different sins in one place and at one time.

    The filth on the internet is so prevalent people have become desensitized to the severity of it. I mean it used to be a private, taboo thing to have porn, or look at it. Now, it is widely accepted, promoted, and even encouraged. People talk about porn, joke about porn, share the best porn websites as if they were swapping recipes for a new dessert. Our society have become ignorantly tolerant of the internet. It’s a terrifying place not only for parents, but also for spouses.

    So, I don’t think you’re wrong. I agree completely. There are rules there for a reason, and it’s meant to keep them safe. And even though we can’t always keep them safe, we should always do our best to try.

    Comment by Kathryn — May 17, 2010 @ 9:30 am | Reply

  3. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
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    Comment by ordiplerorder — June 6, 2010 @ 8:53 pm | Reply

  4. I agree completely. Jimmy has asked for a FB account because many of his friends have one, but understands why he can’t.

    Before I knew of the age limit, Mack went to create an account and came across the age barrier. As soon as she saw it, she was perfectly fine with having to wait 5 more months to be on FB. First thing she did on her 13th birthday was create her own account.

    If you give a kid everything they want when they want it, there is nothing to look forward to.

    Comment by Lisa — October 4, 2010 @ 10:30 am | Reply

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