By Tisha Williams
Keeping family values against peer pressure
Recently my 11-year old Tillara had a sleepover for her birthday, like the gossipy, giggly, non-sleeping pajama parties I remember having in my childhood.
The difference I noticed this time was that every one of Tillara's friends brought "her" own mobile phone and iPad and all these other things that our kids just are not consumed by.
Now do not get me wrong – we use some of the latest gadgets and technology in our household too. I have a mobile "smart" phone; and we have two iPads that the children can use while I'm monitoring them. Our eldest, Damian, age 14, takes an emergency-only mobile phone and sometimes an iPad to school and he hands them back to me every night.
My husband Eddie and I have discussed with the children that none of them will be allowed to go on any social media sites or get a mobile phone until they are old enough.
We are so proud of Damian that he does not worry about things his peers worry about. For example, he told a girl who keeps asking him out on dates, "I'm too young [at age 14] to have a girlfriend."
At Tillara's sleepover party, her 10-year-old friend said to her "you need to get a camera phone so we can take photos." Tillara replied, "I'm only 11; I don't want a phone - anyway I already have a polaroid camera."
Eddie and I absolutely 110% believe in the rules we have developed and negotiated with the children. Yes, at times some of the kids (mainly the girls) ask why their friends get to do this and that; but they know everything we do is to help them when they are older.
When people (adults and kids) come over to our house they are amazed to see my kids respecting our family rules, doing chores and working in synch. They cannot believe our rules and how strict we are.
Our kids do not watch TV on weeknights: it is strictly homework/assignments and training for sports. In order to have "free time" on weekends to watch TV or play the Xbox or whatever, they have to have all their chores and assignments finished.
I was brought up by my great grandparents who were as strict as they come. If I made a mess, I would have to clean it up; if I saw something lying on the ground, regardless of whether I put it there or not, I would be expected to pick it up.
I used to clean our children's rooms but then I saw how ungrateful they were and they didn't respect their rooms or their belongings because I was always cleaning up after them and buying them new things when they broke stuff. Then I stopped and made them do it; and now I can see it has worked because they take pride in cleaning (even vacuuming) their rooms and making their beds.
I think it has taught these kids to appreciate what they have and to look after their property and that their rooms represent them. It is now very rare that I will look into the kids' rooms and they will be messy. Not many parents can say that.
I think my kids respect our rules and our family way; Eddie and I firmly believe that this will help them. We feel that working together and sticking to our own negotiated values is more important, to give them a foundation to build on, so they can make their own informed decisions when they are older.
We do not want them growing up too fast and worrying about social media or doing things just because "everyone else" is doing it.