Allow me to tell you a story.
This was on ID, I am pretty sure. There was the mom of a teenage girl who thought she had it completely locked down concerning her daughter’s internet useage. The family shared one computer, parked in a conspicuous place and password protected. When the girl wanted to go online, mom would log her in and back out later.
One day, mom had to dash out of the house in a hurry, something to do with the girl’s brother. So, she neglected to log her daughter out.
That would be the last time mom would see her daughter alive.
She took her hands off the wheel for a split second and she will blame herself for her daughter’s murder for the rest of her unhappy life.
One of the things I saw over and over working with kids, particularly adolescents, is that they want limits. They may not verbalize it, though it has happened, it may be unconscious, but kids want to believe that grown ups care enough and are strong enough to stop them from hurting themselves.
I worked often with a male counselor who had a similar strict, but nurturing style. We were tough. We were limit setters. But, we never lost our temper with the kids. And we were predictable. Every new kid would put us through a battery of tests.
They resisted us every way they could. They yelled at us. They called us names.
Would it suprise you to learn that many of the kids ultimately got very upset if we had an evening off? And would cry when our time together was over? For once, they had been able to enjoy the experience of feeling safe.
Kids test limits. With teenagers, some pure rebellion is normal and healthy as the primary task of adolescence is separation/individuation. But, I cannot count the number of times the kids intentionally put themselves in harm’s way, just to see if any of us would put a firm stop to it.
Permissive parenting is all the rage these days. It will eventually fade out, and for good reasons. Parents are too invested in making sure their kids like them, which is a matter of no consequence. Parents want to be the child’s peers, their friends, which always damages the child.
The one unshakable guiding principle for every parenting decision should be: what is in the best interest of the <strong style=”font-style: italic;”>child?
The parents’ wishes, needs, hopes, and fantasies have to get pushed out of the way sometimes.
And, sometimes, you take the risk of your child being angry at you. If you’re a halfway competent parent, your kid already has been mad at you. Lots of times.
Let’s see, do I avoid the chance that my kid might get really, really mad at me and convince myself that everything I’ve told her about the Internet has sunk in? Has everything else you have taught your kid sunk in?
In my pre Internet era, the menace was Mr Stranger Danger. We learned not to talk to strangers, because any of them could be Mr Stranger Danger. We learned it in school. Our parents would warn us about the Mr Stranger Dangers of the world. Over and over.
And it was quite effective. Unless, of course, Mr Stranger Danger had a puppy, or candy, or something. It’s the nature of kids. They trust.
Or, do I roll the dice that my kid might hate me for awhile (forever is quite unlikely, and would be symptomatic of deeper problems)? Is it worth it to scare the crap out of my kid to force a behavior change that could keep her from being raped, killed, or both?
There is a lot of conflating on this thread. A catfish sting is not the equivalent of taking doors off hinges, reading diaries, or doing forced drug tests. That argument is not at all logical. A kid may have a reasonable expectation of privacy around her diary, but what reasonable expectation of privacy does she have when arranging meet ups with Internet predators?
If one experience is enough to make your child permanently lose all trust in you, I would be very concerned.