Tweens: Their Wardrobes, Their Privelages and Their Annoying Texting

9 years ago

The last few times we've been out to eat, my husband has commented on the tweens texting away on their phones while sitting opposite their parents at the dinner table.  Clearly, it bothers him, and it looks like it bothers their parents, too. I wonder -- why don't they tell the kid to stop?  When did kids get the right to do whatever they want? And where's the line between their personal freedom and our right to monitor them out of parental concern?

Because I started out thinking about cell phones and social networking, I found this advice for tweens and social networking at The Online Mom:

Ideally, parents should check out social networking sites that may appeal to their children ahead of time. In reality, you probably won't know until they sign up — when you get an e-mail seeking your approval for their new account. Most sites also take this opportunity to invite you to create your own parent's account, so that you can easily monitor your child's activity. Seize it: Create a profile, tell your child about it and remind her that you'll be keeping an eye on her.

Of course, this quote started me thinking about kids and their desire to expose themselves in the name of creative expression.  Namely:  those hussy clothes I keep seeing for young girls.  The other day in Old Navy I saw a t-shirt with the slogan "Girls Rule. Boys Drool" in size 5T.  (Shame on you, Old Navy.)

Clothing is one area I firmly believe parents have to participate in.  Just as our mothers wouldn't let us out of the house looking like a common streetwalker, we shouldn't let our daughters do it, either.  Unfortunately, our little girls are rockin' the short skirts even earlier than we would've dreamed, and it's harmful, according to the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, who say, "as parents, you are powerful, too."  In other words, own your right to monitor your kids' wardrobes.  Even if they bought the clothes. Even if the clothes were gifts.  Over your dead body should your tween girl wear a thong, and that means checking her underwear drawer on a regular basis. But you already knew this, right?

So you're monitoring your kids' cell phone and online usage, you're making sure the midriff is covered -- but do you know where they are right now?  Did you leave them home alone?

Salynn Boyles of WebMD writes:

Parents of 11- to 13-year-olds who took part in the {recent} poll were asked if they had talked with their children about common safety concerns, and if so, how much.

A poll revealed that:

  • 32% of parents had not talked much or at all about neighborhood safety issues, including when to answer the door when parents were away.
  • 30% had talked very little or not at all about Internet safety.
  • And 28% had talked very little or not at all about home safety, such as what to do in case of fire or severe weather.

Um, yeah.  Oops.  I admit to feeling a fool when I realized my four-year-old doesn't know how to call 911.  She knows my phone number, but not our address. Educating kids about safety should start early, and I've already slacked off.

Tweens think they're, like, so old.  So responsible.  And probably, so full of it.  When our kids are toddlers, we give them slowly-growing circles of freedom:  first the blanket on the floor, then the playpen, then the living room, and finally, the house.  Tweens are no different, so why are we so tempted to give them the entire world (in the case of the Internet) or the entire experience (in terms of dressing like an adult) too soon?  What is it about the preteen argument that has us so easily convinced we should let them do ... whatever?

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