My boy is officially a preteen. He’s twelve and he’s changing. No one ever told me that you would have to relearn how to parent once they outgrew your awesome elementary parenting style! grrr… Now, this middle-school mom thing is just not as fun. I can’t take pictures of him. Can’t embarrass him. And, must feed him constantly. (Don’t let me fool you, it’s actually pretty fun having a preteen. He can do all sorts of things, he’s becoming a man in some ways and still is a boy in lots of others. It’s sweet and I am loving every second of it.)
This summer, my son and one of his friends wanted to ride their bikes to the downtown of our suburb. His friend told us that they had “big plans.” (I believe these plans were entirely based on making bodily function noises behind people walking down the street. :)) I think I acted pretty cool with him (ha!) but, I was a nervous wreck the entire time he was gone. But, it really is time that he has freedoms that go along with his increased responsibilities.
What are his increased responsibilities?
- he mows our yard every week. (No, we don’t pay him. We are a team at our home.)
- he mows yards for others and has a couple side jobs to earn money this summer.
- he has handled his money well – giving – saving – spending.
- he has been trustworthy with his electronics.
- he treats his sister (mostly!) great. 😉
- doing well in school.
- he serves at our church every week and attends our student ministry.
- completes his chores.
I’m not saying he is perfect, but I don’t think that is a fair expectation anyway. The things we major on are; can we trust you? are you keeping up with the important things? how do you treat people?
Friends, if you have a preteen, I’m sure you’ve wrestled with some of these freedom issues just like we are. It’s up to each family to come up with what works for you in your context. I am going to share a little bit of info that went into our decision-making processes. And, if we didn’t make a decision yet, I’ll tell you that as well. Please feel no pressure to do what we do. You’ve got to parent for your kids and your family. I simply want to nudge you to think about these things and make decisions on how to handle them before they are on top of you. Think of it as my “heads up warning”…this is what is coming down the road!
Freedoms we are considering:
Cell phones? I’m planning a more in-depth post about cell phones. Our kids have iPads and plenty of access to computers, so I don’t really want them to have a cell phone with internet. I’ve heard (& counseled with) too many moms that realized their kids had pornography addictions at young ages. Not worth it! (and no, eight is not too young to have a porn addiction. Be aware what is happening on those phones. p.s. if they delete their browsing history, take the phone away.)
Questions to ask yourself, to help make your decision:
- Do they need internet access? (My answer is nope, not necessary.)
- Number two, is this only theirs or is it a family phone? (We are doing a phone that our kids share when one of them need to take it to a practice, etc.)
- Number three, how much do you want to spend on a monthly bill?
- Number four, mom is a total buzzkill. 😉
Dating? We are really not very close to the dating ago so no hard and fast decisions have been made. But, no dating before 16. We love group dating and will encourage that. The line a wonderful mom has taught her girls, “Thank you for asking, but this isn’t the time for me to date anyone. I’m too young.” And, if a boy wants to date my daughter, he will have to ask her dad. I hope this will weed out knuckleheads, but I’m sure a few will sneak through. No decisions made yet.
Bed-times? This one is a toughie! Some people don’t have regular bed-times for their kids, but I don’t know how they (or I!) could function without them. Our society truly doesn’t understand the importance of rest, sleep and schedules. I feel like one of the reasons my kids are even-tempered is that they are well-rested. Sleep works miracles!
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 6-13 year olds get 10-11 hours sleep each night. How to fit everything in when they have activities, homework, etc.? We are considering no TV time during the school week.
And then along comes good old puberty (this article explains how puberty affects sleep):
During puberty, children start to secrete melatonin later at night than they did in earlier childhood. This affects their circadian rhythm. It means that your child will want to go to bed later at night and get up later in the morning. Also, as their brains mature during puberty, children are able to stay awake for longer. http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/sleep_early_teens.html
That’s just great, right? 😉
A few things that helps our kids go to sleep: (obviously, this is just us – use what works for you and throw out the rest!)
- no electronics in their rooms
- reading for 30-45 minutes once in bed
- no caffeine at all (especially after noon)
- trouble sleeping? diffuse a relaxing lavender essential oil
Room cleaning? I am not terribly picky about their rooms anyway. So, I won’t make a change. Actually, our doctor told the kids they should be making their beds everyday because it helps your brain with organization, etc. Yes, I totally high-fived her on the way out!
Sleep-overs? I’m terrible, but I am just not a huge fan of sleep-overs. They have each had maybe one sleep-over and what generally happens is they don’t sleep all night and then they get sick. ugh! I can’t really think of a reason to have one. 🙂
Social media? All I can say is be SUPER CAREFUL about allowing your children access to social media. I have very strict restrictions on the kids’ iPads. Click here if you want to read more online safety & setting up your tablets/phones for safety.
A few safety take-aways for social media:
- Choose one social media outlet (why one? because that’s probably all you can keep up with! :))
- Know their passwords and check social media regularly
- Communicate what is acceptable what to stay away from (types of content)
- Communicate who they can befriend
- Have high level of protection on all your devices (parental controls)
- On most social media sites, spammers will send sexual images to try to get you to follow them. Our rule is that mom and dad look at the friend requests first.
YouTube? YouTube has tons of awesome tutorials, fun music videos and cat videos…what could be more awesome than that? If you’ve spent any time on YouTube at all you’ve seen the graphic images that come up continually. My kids only watch YouTube Kids unless they are with us. It’s just too graphic.
I know this was a ton of stuff, but I hope that you enjoyed it and it made you think and laugh. And, even more, I hope it begins some conversations with your spouse &/or your preteen.
p.s. If you enjoyed this post, I would love it if you would share this image to Pinterest! Or Tweet or FB it! Thank you!
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