Yes, I am Sheltering My Kids

This morning I read a post on my friend Jennifers’s blog Hip As I Wanna Be called No, My 12 Year Old Won’t Visit Your Bedroomand my first instinct was to pull my kids out of school, throw away all technology, draw the blinds, and play board games together in happy family harmony until they’re twenty-five.

Of course I can’t really do that. But it doesn’t mean that I won’t shelter them.

Somehow we have come to a place in parenting where some grown men and women are worried more about their children’s fleeting popularity and “happiness” than they are about helping them to become healthy, whole adults.  I have no problem being the mom of “uncool” kids if that means that I am keeping them from developmentally inappropriate situations, protecting them from having to make decisions for which they are not yet psychologically and emotionally prepared.  I don’t mind telling them that they can’t read a certain book yet or see a certain movie, that it isn’t time for a cell phone, and that at the tender age of eight boys are friends, they are not “boyfriends”.  And when the day comes that cell phones make it into the hands of my children – God help me – I am ready to be that mom who enforces seemingly ridiculous rules about who we text, when we text, and where we text.  My children already know that computers and phones stay out of bedrooms, and when technology is in their hands, doors are open.  That rule is not changing.  And just to be clear, I will enforce these rules as much to keep my children from initiating these inappropriate conversations as I will be to keep them from receiving these sorts of communications.

Kids mimic what they see and hear, what those around them are doing and talking about.  My husband and I have tried to find a balance and keep the lines of communication with us open for our kids to discuss what they’re observing.  Our definition of this balance involves our kids riding the bus, but sitting near the front with kids their own ages.  They go to the movies, but not movies with romantic storylines or a focus on being pretty to get the boy/athletic to get the girl.  They watch TV, but not shows with rude or degrading characters.  My daughter helps choose her clothing (recently heard “No more butterflies, okay?”), but will not own a cleavage enhancing, off-the-shoulder shirt like they sell at a popular children’s clothing store until….well, never.  Okay, maybe when she’s twenty-five and we finally unlock the doors and let them out of the house.

The point? It is my responsibility to care for and protect my child’s emotional, spiritual and psychological health just as much as it is my responsibility to keep them physically safe and well.  And it is a responsibility that I take very seriously.

I am thrilled that my friend’s son came to her when he received that series of shocking texts.  I’m happy for him. I’m happy for her. And I’m happy for that little girl – because let’s face it, that’s what she still is – that this boy chose to walk away from the conversation she initiated rather than engaging in it.  I can only imagine the confusion she must be feeling about her decision to write those words and about the responses she may have gotten to them from others in the past.

I hope that when my children someday face similar situations, they will know to come to me.  And they will know that I will continue to be the shelter in the storm that they need.  And for all of this, I make no apologies.



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  • Love this post! My 10yo son has had a very hard time in 5th grade this year because many of the boys in his class swear (a lot) and tell a lot of inappropriate jokes. He says the conversations about sex and girls and the language they use make him very uncomfortable, and he gets teased (bullied is a better word) for not joining in. When talking to his teachers about this, one of them admitted that the boys in her class were pretty raunchy, but that she thought my son was too “immature” for his age. UM…wha??? While she had sympathy for how uncomfortable my son was (and how he’s being bullied for not being more “mature”), the implication was that my son was being too sensitive and needed to kind of “man up.” At 10. The situation makes me sick.

    • The idea that a 10 year old should hear, let alone participate in, conversations about sex and the objectification of his female peers sickens me. If my children are called immature for being children, then bring it. I would rather help them through that teasing than throw them to the wolves. I am so impressed that you are taking a stand for your child and thank you for sharing!

  • ps: and for any who might tell you that sheltering your kid will only result in having super rebellious teens, I say: I have 3 teenage daughters with whom we have always been very strict, and they are AWESOME teens. So there. 😉

  • Yes to the YES. It is our responsibility to shelter, teach, protect our children. It does not always make us the popular parent with our own kids or other parents/kids. But it is the route I choose. I tell my kids I can be friends with them when they are young adults.

    • I totally agree. Then again, I kind of come from the school of parenting that says, “Oh, you hate me? Then I must be doing something right.” I love them, they (usually) love me … but being a pushover and failing to exercise my adult judgment? Would be doing them no favors in the long run.

  • I too love this post! While my own child is some time away from these scenarios (just 2.5 yrs old now), I do have several nieces and nephews in the throws of what you speak of in this post. I agree with everything you said and hope that more parents than we realize feel the same way – for our children’s sake.

  • I am just stunned after reading your friends blog.

    I have a 5 year old daughter and I have a 15 year old half brother. I hear how my brother talks about school, friends, etc. and it makes me terrified for my little one to grow-up.

    I blame the grown-ups. How did we ever let ourselves get to a point in society where kids have such free access to sexualized images on TV, the computer, Facebook, etc.?

    When I was little, you didn’t see the crap you see on TV. I turned on a local pop station the other day just scanning through the channels and the ad for the radio station was talking about being sexy… won’t make that mistake again. I had to have the conversation with my child about what sexy is. I tried to explain to her she wants to be a “pretty” girl and not a “sexy” girl.

    I plan on fighting the “powers that be” and my child won’t dress like a tramp (although every store in the world that sells 4-6X clothing thinks she should), she won’t have a cell phone with texting, she will have monitored computer time, absolutely no social media and we already have to make sure all tv and movies are G rated… we don’t bend.

    I feel like it’s up to us parents to tell society no. Somehow we have gotten off track… I don’t know how we let things get this out of control. It’s very scary. I try to help shape my daughters friendships by having her involved in church, but once she hits “big kid” school, I know I can’t shelter or protect her.

    So, I guess I am proud member of the “uncool grown-up” club.

  • I recently read one of the books my child was reading for school and was surprised to find it had some sexual content. Is this normal for a 7th grade book? Please give feedback.

  • […] Then my first child arrived and I became a conservative despot. […]

  • Olivia

    There’s just one thing; as adults, every day people have to make decisions they’re not prepared to make. Rarely do they have enough information to deal adequately with what to do. They don’t know. All the time. And the answer isn’t to go to a parent, it’s to make the decision. Of course, guidance is needed. There has to be a balance- some challenge, but then not too much. Besides, today, it’s hardly possible to control a child’s life completely enough to ward off all of the influence (e.g. advertising! Thousands of ads per day, just by driving a few miles. Product placement, ads on websites, etc.).