CNN aired a special (click the above link to watch) back in October.  For me, #Being13 was an interesting, eye-opening special showcasing today’s 13-year-olds.  I was floored and thankful not to be able to relate to any of the issues.  I kept thinking, “Where are the parents?”  Think about it, how is a 13-year-old able to sext, cyber-bully, revenge-porn, take 100-200 selfies without a parent noticing?  I found that the common thread between the featured parents and their children was disengagement; neither was engaged in the other and both spent time paying attention to things less important. 

As parents, we have to be interested in what our children are interested in.  We have to pay attention to what catches their attention.  If not, we will not be aware of dangers that are lurking, until it’s too late.  We are responsible for our children.  It is our job to teach them the difference between right and wrong, provide them with a moral compass, and instill a sense of pride- NOT THE MEDIA, NOT SO-AND-SO, AND DEFINITELY THIS-ONE-AND-THAT-ONE.  Ultimately, our job is to protect their innocence.  That means that we have to recognize that not all music, television shows, movies, websites, magazines, fashion styles, gadgets, and friends are for them.  A little censorship never hurt nobody! 

In our house, thirteen is just a number; it’s the number after twelve and before fourteen.  Bedtime is still 8:30pm and story time is alive.   We raise our children to know that they have NINETEEN YEARS OF CHILDHOOD.  That means that they get to have fun, enjoy being a CHILD and relish in the splendor of not having grown-up issues to worry about.  Kids should be dreaming not anguishing.  They should be friendly, not bullies.  They should be lost in a good book, not cyber-space.  Our homes should be filled with their laughter and endless chatter not echoes of sadness and cellphone alerts.  Our thirteen-year-olds should be standing strong, confident and excited to accomplish something great in life, not stuck in front of a mirror taking selfies hoping to garner “likes”.  What happens when no one “likes” a photo?   

#Being13 reminded me why The Mr. and I spend so much time with our children, why we ask questions, and why certain things will never, ever be acceptable in our household.   Parenting is a responsibility.  If we do not make our children a priority, someone else will.  Rather than providing them with open access to the world, maybe we should consider providing them with open access to our hearts and time, if we are not already doing so.  Remember, children cannot grow down once they grow up.  

Sincerely, G.