I have a girl crazy 16-year-old stepson who has given me some great experience to help me deal with my own five boys (ages 2-10) in a few years when they are acting the same way. I have a boy crazy 11-year-old stepdaughter, whose dinner table conversations about her future boyfriend fantasies make the hair on my neck stand on end. I hope we somehow never meet Niall from 1D.
Allow me to paint a background picture for you. As a physician, I get to know lots of kids. And as a physician, I unfortunately get to see a lot of the sad, shocking, and disturbing things most parents may only read about or hear secondhand: pregnant teens, minors catching STDs, minors making sex tapes, date rape, minors using illicit substances, etc. Young girls with low self-esteem finding inappropriate ways to feel loved, wanted, or popular. Was all this stuff happening when I was in high school? It probably was but I don’t think it was so ‘in your face’ as it is today.
I was compelled to write something after reading a journal article about teens who engage in frequent ‘sexting’ are more likely to have sex at an earlier age. The article reminded me of when my wife was nearly brought to tears learning of her son, then 14 years old, and his adventures with his then 13-year-old girlfriend. This was her baby boy and she didn’t want to believe it. My wife quite quickly facilitated that break-up. Our talks about sex and drugs were sabotaged by his father who does not have the same house rules as we do and let her spend the night, essentially unsupervised, when the kids were at his house.
At the mall one night after a movie, some young teens were having too good a time in the roller coaster simulator, the lad’s jeans around his ankles. My wife wanted to confront them and I stopped her. Kids are not the same as when we were growing up. In my youth adults could still embarrass kids and scold them effectively. Nowadays if we had said something to these youths, we might end up looking down the barrel of a gun with very ill consequences.
On rounds in the hospital the other day, I had to see a young gal who overdosed on pills after finding out she was pregnant. The baby’s father is her boyfriend’s best friend. They hooked up after she went to him for consolation, since her boyfriend that she was living with kicked her out after a fight. The conversation we had was uncomfortably casual on her part as if we were talking about her English class and not the events that had transpired the night before.
My son has almost 1000 “friends” on his Facebook page. I don’t think I had met 1000 people in the world by the time I was in college. Social media makes the large world in which our kids live that much smaller. So that it isn’t even 6° of separation for them to be exposed to the things I am writing about.
My wife and I share stories and keep ourselves on the same parenting page to be involved, preachy, and sometimes intrusive in our kids’ lives. We aren’t above checking on their Facebook page or reading phone texts. We express our disappointment or embarrassment to our kids over their bad decisions, and we also congratulate and thank them when they make good decisions.
We know he still sneaks around, and may lie to us on occasion, and bad things may still happen despite our efforts. But it won’t be because we had a blind eye or deaf ear to our kids’ lives and the stories they share of their 1000 friends. Really? 1000?
So parents, “will you fight? – insert Braveheart battle cry here . . . or will I be writing a prescription for “Mr. Thinks-he’s-a-man” or “Miss Oh-no-she-didn’t” – oh yes she did.
Dr. Curvy, aka Dr. Stephen Camacho, is a family doctor practicing in the midwest. He’s a busy guy, married with 8 kids, no typo here, 8. He loves singing, dancing, reading, cooking, playing all sorts of sports, doing outdoorsy things, being artistic and creative. Every day he tries to learn or do something different to make himself a better person for others, and for himself. You can follow Dr. Curvy on twitter.