November 28, 2011 in Features

Annie’s Mailbox: Protect teens by setting limits

Kathy Mitchell/Marcy Sugar Kathy Mitchell
 

Dear Annie: My husband and I are raising our two teenage grandchildren. Our grandson is 15 and recently started going out with a girl. They attend the same school and are Facebook friends. We don’t know this girl, but after their first outing to a mall, she posted pictures of them kissing. The following weekend, they went to the movies, and she posted another kissing picture. She posts nonstop on his page about how he’s made her life better, and she texts him constantly.

We think this is rather disrespectful on both their parts: hers for thinking these are acceptable public displays, and his for thinking we wouldn’t care.

Are we true dinosaurs to think there should be limits for teens and that parents should know what their kids are doing on the Internet? What is reasonable in today’s world? I’ve become the evil ogre because I have taken a stand. How do I deal with this? – Not on My Watch

Dear Not: Teenagers push parents in order to see what the boundaries are. Having no limits creates confusion and insecurity. Embrace your inner ogre. The world can be a dangerous place, and 15-year-olds do not have the best judgment. The Internet makes it likely that your grandson may regret some of what is floating around that he cannot control. It is your job to protect him.

Yes, you should have access to his Facebook page (although we don’t recommend posting on it), and it’s fine to limit his phone privileges because texting costs money. Invite the girl for dinner so you can get to know her. You don’t need to meet her parents, but you ought to have a way to contact them. Most importantly, talk to your grandson about your concerns, especially about this girl’s aggressive behavior, which is all about her social status, without any concern for him.


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