Mom, are you standing on the sidelines of your teenage daughter’s life? Have you thought about cell phone safety, dating safety, or on-line safety? What you learn may have you stunned.
In my profession, I see teenage girls on a daily basis that step over the lines of what should be considered safe as they use their cell phones and computers. What is worst than that is the stance of total oblivion parents take as the world slowly takes pieces of their daughter away.
If you think I am trying to scare you, YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! Remember not so long ago when the internet came out and five year olds were passing their parents by left and right with their computer saveyness? It was almost cute to be able to say that these kids were so much smarter than the adults on the computer.
If you are still the computer illiterate one in the family, shame on you. Your teenage daughter could very easily be sitting on one of the best kept secret in the lives of teens today… MySpace. My Space is an open book for anyone to check out what goes on in the secret lives of teens. Well, that is almost the truth. If the MySpace page is marked as “friends only”, then only those whom your daughter has approved of can enter the My Space page. Why don’t you ask your daughter to show you her My Space page? Check out her friends’ My Space pages and look around at the pictures and comments. Some of it is very enlightening. For some parents, it opens their eyes to the alter ego lives of teens who they may have thought differently of. I know I was surprised to find some of the “nicer girls” in our community living totally different lives. Why is it that we as parents feel that during the elementary school years, we need to know everything about our children’s friends, but once they reach an age where they have more independence and can drive, we tend to turn our heads? I remind parents during counseling sessions that they still have the responsibility to guide and help direct their children even though they may be sixteen or seventeen years old.
One parent told me about the trust issues she was having with her teenage daughter. She and her husband were slowly building their trust back up and were concerned that where their daughter told them she would be and where her actual location would be could be on two different sides of town. In their attempts of providing more opportunities for their daughter to rebuild trust, they still had reservations.
To satisfy the daughter’s desire to be trusted again and to have more freedom while relieving the parents anxiety about crossing the same bridge again, they came up with an absolute wonderful agreement as a family. They agreed to slowly integrate more freedoms, but as those opportunities presented themselves, their daughter would be prepared to take a picture on her cell phone of the movie she was watching or the menu at the restaurant where she would be eating etc. and send to her parents throughout the night as requested. This actually worked for the family and as trust was regained, they slowly eased off.
That family was certainly using their heads when it came to cell phone capabilities. Keeping our daughters safe in such a technologically advanced world is scary. Don’t be a back seat driver when it comes to your daughter’s emotional, physical, spiritual, or psychological safety. It only takes one person to get her thinking about involving herself in things that she may not have considered before.
Remind her of the dangers that are lurking around the corners. And one more thing, it is your family. You are the only people in her world who are really concerned about the components of her safety. It is your right as a parent to make sure she remains as safe as possible. Be careful of your approach though. That’s where the rubber meets the road and the ride could become bumpy. Be mindful that it’s not what you say, but how you say it that matters.
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