“Just GET OUT!” my daughter yells at me as I stand with my arms crossed and her phone in my hand. I ask, “You do understand why I have to take this and ground you, right?”
“I don’t care! I just want you out of my room!” Her room…behind her is a NASA poster of all the rockets shot into space from past to present. Her treasured gift I bought her from space camp two summers before. Behind me is her poster of Godzilla. I’m feeling a juxtaposition that is making me uncomfortable and also a realization that my daughter is going to surpass me intellectually.
My daughter is smart, beautiful, articulate and artistically talented. She is also 13 and loves to use some horrible choice words. So how do I balance out parenting such an independent, intelligent teenager who doesn’t realize she is also naive. I’m not bashing her; she believes she is “grown” now and she is not. I’m not being biased because I am her mother (well I try not to be). She truly is exceptional. Her memory is excellent and she gobbles up history, books, science and art. She also sneaks her phone after her time limit, slams doors when I delete certain social media, and believes all privacy laws apply to her — meaning I should never look at her digital personal life. Uh…nope.
She is artistically talented and works with a lot of animation so I allow her more freedom than probably normal because she uses her iPad for this. She also works with other animators online to build stories. I am constantly balancing what I should push, remove and limit. I know I’m not the only parent going through this; we all are trying to balance this digital responsibility. Quite frankly, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all. It depends on what the child is using it for, if they continuing to do other activities, and the child’s maturity level.
In my situation, I allow more time when it is artistic work and have had to take more drastic measures when it comes to who she is chatting with. This means checking her phone and making sure she is OK online.
My bigger concern has been a lack of physical friends: friends at school, doing things with those friends, outside activities. It is a rule that she stays involved in something outside of school and her artwork. I’ve had to make it a rule in order for her to keep her iPad. She doesn’t realize it now, but I hope she will someday and understand how important it is that she plays volleyball, an instrument and go hiking with friends. There has been yelling, crying, sadness and hugging, and all the emotions any teenager goes through. She has a tough time relating to other girls her age and it’s the most difficult thing in the world to watch your child struggle.
Together we have found a couple things she does and although there may still be whining, once she gets there or starts the activity, usually it’s all good. She doesn’t understand it now but it’s not her choice. I am helping her create healthy habits. If she won’t do it for herself, as her parent, I must make it a rule. It’s just hard when they hate you for it.
She is like big ball of emotional intelligence and talent along with a huge dose of stubbornness that I as a parent must navigate. If she was an adult, she would be praised for her persistence! I guess my job is to help her focus on where the persistence should be. Ugh.
We will get through it and luckily, I have friends with older children who remind me that she will like me again. It may be a while! Until then I might have to remove her bedroom door. We’ll see how hard she slams it next time.