Often, I hear adults talk about how they just can’t figure out the new gadgets these days, or keep up with all the social networks coming out. I’m telling you now, if your child has it figured out, then you had better learn quick. New phone? Learn all its tricks. New website? You better sign up.
Parents, pay close heed to what your children are doing. Become familiar with their interests, their passions. It is not only about getting to know them, but getting to know what draws them- for in doing so, you know them better than you would otherwise.
Don’t just censor their music, their reading. If they gravitate to a certain genre, or a certain style, look at it closely. Become familiar with the product, for in that you will find the message that your child cannot tell you himself.
The quickest way to lose your child is through what you do not know, do not understand. Many parents have heard the mantra of an angry teenager, “You just don’t understand!” Consider whether it may be true. Perhaps you remember what it’s like to be a teenager- but what is it like to be your teenager? To be the child that you have raised, suddenly finding themselves on the cusp of this brave new world, no longer a child, just becoming an adult in a new and sometimes frightening society?
If you do not understand the world that your child is drawn to, you will be sure to lose him. The more they discover, the further you are left behind, until one day, you find that they are gone from you – willingly or unwillingly.
The prime spot for predators is through social networking. He will befriend your daughter, provide a listening ear for your frustrated son. The social network that you do not understand becomes the channel by which your child is lost to you. The new gadget that your child knows in and out, but which you can only just turn on, is now an open door into a very dangerous realm.
As your child emerges into the independent teenage years, it is no longer enough to simply ban certain things from the house. If you have done well in the relationship you have built with your child, if nothing has happened to come between you, they will often (but not always) remain within the parameters willingly. But if they are not willing, then no amount of rules you have set will serve to chain them. A teenager will always find a way around the rules, that is a promise. And even the most solid relationship has strain at times, and it is those moments that provide the cracks which a skilled abuser can manipulate to widen into a chasm before you’re even aware of it.
What are you doing to stop them? Punishment is a vicious cycle of disobedience and arguments, and in the end nothing is achieved. Now, it will not be the rules that will keep your child to you, but your relationship to them, and in this is grounded your understanding of what draws them.
What is the music that they want to listen to? Listen to the songs on your own time, when they are not around. Look up the lyrics, find what the music speaks of. In music more than any other subject, you will find the answer for your child’s disturbances. But do the same for what they like to read, and the things they search online.
Many parents look at it with the mindset that the music influences the child, and while this may be truth in part, it also serves to obscure another even more important truth. The music may influence the person, but first the person must be drawn to that music – and to that, there is often something deeper at play, something in their psyche that calls to them. In the beat and the lyrics you may yet find the explanation and expression for your child’s emotional turmoil, something which they themselves are not able to put into words.
Set restrictions – it’s what parents are there for. Boundaries serve as a means of protection. But at the same time, be aware of what draws your children. It just may be your means of saving them.