There is a fine line between controlling what your kids can do and giving them the freedom to make their own decisions. As parents, we want to protect our children from the world they live in and shelter them from the evil that is out there, but I also think we need to give them the ability to make the decisions that may not always be best for them because this helps them learn.
I can make an example of this with being able to drive a car. All of our children will be at an age when they need to learn how to drive, and I think most of you would agree with me in saying there are two different sides to this. One is, what are the state minimum requirements for being able to legally drive a car? The other is, can they really drive a car safely? So, in my world both of these statements have to be true before any of my children are released to the open road. There is a third requirement for my children: both my twin boys and daughter will have to be able to fully change a tire from start to finish with no help from anyone on their own in our driveway before being able to drive.
You see, in order for them to be able to make decisions, they have to have real-world experience and some knowledge on what to do when X happens. How do you get that without making some mistakes and being given that room to make mistakes in a safe place? I think this is like what we did when they were little and we took the training wheels off their bikes–we had to be okay with some bumps and bruises before they learned. We have to give them the power to make the right choices by giving them choices and not controlling the options they get
We have so much control over what teenagers do and where they go. They have hopefully grown up with us sheltering them from the bad things, but I think we need to release some of that control. For example, we lock down their phones and only allow them to get the apps we approve, and they know we see what all happens on the phone. When we lock these things down so hard and don’t allow them to make choices, we push them to find other options, or worse, to start hiding things from us, like a burner phone. Trust me, it is happening. Your child may have a phone you don’t even know they have. I think the answer is to start loosening control and giving them the freedom to fail and make their own decisions while we are still there to run alongside them just like we did with the bike. No one wants to just have their child check all the boxes at the DMV and pass the minimum standards and then send them out into the world driving alone. We still have so much to teach them
So, with that said, I think it is time we find a balance for them by letting them know we respect their privacy and will not be controlling everything they have access to, but still checking in with them and reviewing the choices they made while you’re still there to help them learn from the choices
I guess this is a long way of saying some of those Parental Controls we use may end up hurting us in the long run.