Unplug, Snoop and Grow a Spine. Please.

I don’t call it Snooping. I call it Parenting. And the job isn’t over till they’re 21 and no longer a tax deduction and dependent on my health insurance plan.

Even then, I’ll have a role, just a drastically different one than I have now, and naturally different from what I had a year or two or ten ago.

My kids like to spend time alone behind their closed bedroom doors. Fine. We give them a great amount of privacy and, more importantly, trust. Because they’ve earned it. But when they’re at school, the room and every dusty, crusty item within is mine to explore.

At any given time, my teenagers know we can use their computer passwords. Why? Because they gave them to us. Why? Because we told them too. When they wanted Facebook accounts, we insisted they accept us as their online “friends”. We visit their Facebook pages…on the computer we bought which sits on the desk next to the stack of household bills we pay; one being for the high-speed wireless Internet service they constantly utilize. They also know we can (and have) pull(ed) the plug on the modem when they need a little refresher course in the self discipline/time management/family respect arena.

Pulling plugs also works miraculous wonders on televisions, electronic systems attached to televisions, surround sound speakers. Not to mention cords which power and charge iPods, cell phones and hand held gaming systems.

Ooooh, which brings me to batteries: that one in the back of their cell phones? It can be removed for extra dramatic and practical effect.

Not too complicated or mind boggling, is it? No, it really isn’t. Please remember this the next time you start to open your mouth or update your Facebook profile with,

“I can’t get my kids away from the TV!”

“She’s always on that phone!”

“He sent over 400 texts last month!”

“He’s addicted to that game!”

“They don’t hear a thing I say because they’re always walking around with those ear buds shoved in their ears. I swear they’re going to be deaf by the time they’re 25!”

“Kids these days are so ungrateful/lazy/uncommunicative/unimaginative/uncooperative and difficult to entertain in the classroom.”

I’ve found this Parenting gig/role evolves and changes with each phase of life. There’s give and take, letting go, growing roots and strengthening wings; teaching and earning respect; letting go a little more; yanking them back by the nape of their neck, teaching a little more, earning and showing trust, letting go a little more, reinventing the proverbial wheel, standing firm or apologizing; but always…always knowing Who is the Parent and Who is the Child.

Lord knows I still have a lot of learning to do and I’d be naïve to predict my final parental score card; but I do know one thing for certain: There will be snooping, spinal taps and plug pulling.

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  • Claire

    You go, girl! That’s how it will be in my house, too.

  • Ann

    Go, Karen! Thanks for offering up an example of what real parenting is.

  • Remember that this duty falls every bit as heavily upon fathers, __if not more so__.

  • Warren Jewell

    I linked this into my Facebook page – as I have other CE and other-site articles. There, I prefaced it, thusly:

    Yo, parents! Don’t just say “NO!” – be prepared to ‘punctuate’. You know, I cannot remember getting very defiant of my parents. With little to ‘unplug’, they’d likely ‘plug’ me between the eyes. Then again, I was aware, canny and intelligent enough to know that nothing I had – food, shelter, clothing, et al – was anything I had purchased or could afford. And, no allowance – just what I could scrape up from neighbors for lawn-mowing, snow-shoveling, newspaper tips (the paychecks were banked). These kids today – affluent and stupid? ‘Impoverish’ and educate them.