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Keep your rebelling teenagers safe

 I have been pondering about cyber bullying, internet safety and the virtual world and its effect on our teenage children. Worrying where our children go in the virtual world and who they meet are all genuine and important reservations.

But what happens in the REAL world? Where are our teenagers boys and girls spend their “free” time, HOW they spend it and with whom? This was on the agenda of my daughter’s high school parents evening.  An undercover policeman, a Rabbi and people who “have been there” took part of a panel discussion.

Clubbing, under-age alcohol drinking, Hubbly-bubbly smoking, ID faking and drugs are all dangers that are not unique to a certain area, social status or school.  They can affect any of our children who are in their most vulnerable stage; young and naïve yet regard themselves grown up and mature. Their “duty” as teenager to rebel exposes them at risk to temptations out there. And these, apparently exist all over. Even these so called “Under-18” socials are no safe zone from those dangers.

Here are my thoughts based on the discussion held with the panel and parents:

  1. Technology, Cell phones and the use of computers are NOT the cause for our children loosing respect in us parents. They may be the reason for a broader gap between generations but technology cannot be held accountable for the fact that we don’t control our children.
  2. Setting up boundaries and rules are crucial to enable us gain control. We are not set to seek the love of our children at this stage. They will appreciate it though in a later stage in their life. Be it based on religion, tradition or your believes these rules and boundaries are our responsibilities to our children.
  3. TALK to your children, from an early stage, about the dangers out there and the reasons for rules and boundaries. All in small doses from early stage will hopefully build a child that is strong, knowledgeable and have the power to face peer-pressure when needed.

Oh, they will rebel, no doubt about it, but let them find “safer” zones to fight you about. After all this is in their “job description”.

 Please share with us how your school and community are dealing with this problem .


8 Responses

  1. Interesting post, Ariellah. Looking back on my memories as a teen, you don’t keep them safe. You give them all the tools that you can, you give them all the love you have, you make it clear that you will be there to pick up the pieces, and then you stand back and pray.

    That’s how I see it, anyway. My sister and I both made all kinds of mistakes, but our parents let us make them because they were *our* mistakes. When asked, they gave sage advice, and they were there with help and support when we wanted them. But otherwise, I don’t see that there is any way to keep a teenager safe who is determined to be otherwise, short of locking them up. And what lesson would you be teaching them then?

  2. I should add that I have a 13 y/o son (as well as younger kids) and am an observant Jew with strict Shabbat and kashrut observance in our home, so we don’t let them run wild and do whatever they want. But outside of the house, we can’t control them, and the only way I can see rules and boundaries working in the long run is if they are based on negotiation and goodwill on both sides, not raw parental power.

  3. Thanks for addressing this very important topic. I have a teen on the way to college shortly. You hit on the more critical point, that it is up to us as parents to set boundaries and set an example. It is all too easy to find external influences, such as technology, to blame. Technology is something which will further separate us from our kids if the relationship isn’t a strong, positive one; technology can also bring us closer together, if that is how we choose to use it.

  4. Hadass
    Thank you for your comment, I guess there is so much we can do as parents to protect our children and I agree with you we should let them make their own mistakes.
    But setting up boundaries is part of providing the tools. For example we are not our children’s’ friends. And there will come a time that your teen will start treating you as such. This is when I think we should clarify our role and expectations from our teens.

    Thanking you for reiterating the issue of technology. You right, we can use technology to bring us closer.

  5. I just discovered your blog and it is a very interesting one. I am in the US, and have a 5 year old and I am already trying to address some of these.

    When I was a teen I definitely tested the limits of my parents patience, and experimented with alcohol among other things. I think even then I did recognize that some things were “safer” to experiment with and credit that to a combination of parenting (from my own and my friends’), religion, and a healthy respect for not just the law but for right over wrong. My husband, on the other hand, always walked the straight and narrow line. He knows only black and white, where I spent some time in the gray.

    Together we try hard to set rules but also to be very clear and specific about what could happen. We don’t want to raise a child afraid of her shadow but we also don’t want one who will follow blindly wherever another child or adult may lead her.

    I think (and again, no teens for me yet so I may learn otherwise!) that if you teach the basics of understanding right vs wrong, safe vs dangerous, then on or off line, you’ve given your children a good foundation. what else can you do?

  6. Ariellah – your comments are right on. It does begin in the home with the parents. We are role models and our role is to build a strong foundation of love and care, responsibility, respect and trust, just to name a few, so when they do go out on their own, we feel confident that we did the best to prepare them for the outside world. There is good and bad in everything. Temptation is and always has been around us, past, present and on or off the computer. The difference is that we didn’t have immediate access like today. We had to wait for the mail, or call someone on a “land-line”, there wasn’t even an answering machine to know if someone was trying to reach you. There’s no time to “stop and reflect”, let alone smell the roses, resulting in quick, unclear (sometimes dangerous) decisions. Today, events are broadbanded, faxed, texted, or celled, for immediate reponse and/or instantaneous attendance to social gatherings. What was a party of 20 kids, turns into 120 from towns you never heard of. This applies to the young and the old. The difference is that the young are still young and are more vulnerable and we need to give them the guidance and encouragement to be responsible.

  7. […] pondering about cyber bullying led me to understand that we have to keep to the basics as far as keeping our teenagers safe . This post evoked most amazing responds from readers. As each have their own thinking regards the […]

  8. […] especially when our”little angels” are growing to become teenagers. In the post on “How to keep your rebelling teenagers safe” I found from the comments to the post that people have different approaches for dealing with […]

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