Hey Momma’s! How was the summer? What were your kiddie-Os up to?
I cannot believe we are starting another school year. My oldest is going to be a sophomore. How did that happen??? My middle is going to be in 8th grade and my baby is going into 5th! Time is flying and I am soaking up as much of them as I can.
Some days are easier than others! And I have to admit that the end of the last school year gave me a real run for my money. But it is great to look back at it now and know that we made some tough decisions that have really paid off. I say tough because parenting is never easy! And there are times when we are called upon to find a balance between making our kids happy and being the parent that has to lay down the law and take things away from your kids. And it is never fun!
There is also absolutely no rule book for all of these things. We make the best decisions we can at the time and we deal with those decisions as we continue to guess our way through most of it. I try to use my gut to lead me and my love for them. I try to guide them with morals and values. “Be kind.” “Treat others as you wish to be treated.” “Help those in need.” These are just a few of the guiding principles I use.
And there are times when we make a decision and then we find we have to take it back. In March of last year I found myself in that very position. In January my 7th grader asked me if he could get Snapchat. My daughter was half way through her freshman year, and she had Snapchat. I work with many people who have and use Snapchat and it is a part of their social lives. I felt compelled to let him experience it and saw that it was very “normal”. I decided that I was going to say yes to this request. I can tell you that when I look back now, I was wanting to make him happy. I was wanting to give him something he wanted. Normally, I would be more apt to say no to a request like this and I had said no to my daughter at the same age.
I am telling you this as I reflect on it now. And I am being honest about my desire to make him happy. And looking back on it now, my brain was cloudy. My logical good judgement skills were definitely lacking and I had decided not to listen to my gut.
That’s never a good combo. What happened next, I wouldn’t believe if I hadn’t experienced it. I watched as my sweet, wonderful son was transformed before my eyes. He was a high honor roll student who didn’t have to study much to get good grades. He never brought home homework and when he did have it, he finished it on the bus on the way home. His coursework came pretty easy to him up to this point and he was diligent about getting it done and turning his assignments in on time.
Fast forward to the 2 months he had Snapchat and it all changed. I don’t mean just some of it changed. I mean all of it changed. He no longer cared about his schoolwork. In a blink of an eye it was non-existent in his world. He stopped doing ANY of his work. He stopped turning in his assignments. For two months he did absolutely nothing else but Snapchat. You think I am kidding? I am not. He sent 55,000 Snapchats. You read that right, 55,000 in two months. When we would tell him to put his phone down or get after him for always being on it, he would appease us by putting it down for a minute and then pick it right back up. He had streaks with 250 people. And he was lost and cared about nothing else.
My husband and I were aware things were happening but we didn’t know the true extent of it until we had 2 of his teachers reach out to us. They asked if something had changed in our household or if there was something wrong. We then logged into the report card system for our school and saw that he had not handed in 1 assignment during the last 2 months. His straight As had gone to Cs.
We sprung to action with family meetings and discussions about responsibilities, schoolwork etc. Nothing was sinking in. He was not listening to us and showed no signs of caring about what we were saying. We had countless discussions, we yelled, we threatened. But nothing was hitting the mark.
Finally, I knew I needed to just fix it! So, I rewound the situation. I took Snapchat away. I can tell you it felt like I was violating his rights. I know that sounds crazy, but that’s h0w it felt. I love him and I didn’t want to hurt him. He was so upset with us. I knew it was on me. I was the one that had decided to give it to him. And I was now the one that had to do the hard work of disappointing him and hurting him. Does that sound crazy to you? Are you shaking your head? Well, I know as I type this that it sounds crazy, but it is as honest as I can be about the whole situation. He cried when I took it away. He was so mad at me. And I had to tell him, “You can be mad and you can hate me, but I am your Mom and I am not here to be your friend or be liked by you.”
We are human. It sucks to have to say any of that! And it sucked to have to go through it. These months were beyond stressful.
But taking it away was the best thing that I could have done. And although it was hard, it was the best thing! He has recovered from being angry. Although it took a few weeks. And now, 3 months later, he has fully come back to me. He is my sweet, amazing boy. He is thoughtful and caring. He hugs me and tells me he loves me. There was a time in the middle of this that I wasn’t sure if he would ever do that again.
So, if you are considering giving your middle schooler access to social media, my advice is NO! I was shown that my son was not ready for the responsibility. And looking back, my gut knew that!
Social media is a responsibility that some adults don’t know how to navigate. It is not realistic for us to think our middle schoolers can do it.
I’m not sure what the next challenge is, but I can tell you I am tuning back into my gut and I will be following it very closely from this moment on.
Parenting is a tough job! But it is also the most important one! Cheers to raising humans! May they love you and may your children never send 55,000 snapchats!
Peace, kindness and sanity! And maybe a little bit of wine! Happy Wednesday my HMH Moms!