“Mum there’s something I want to tell you. Promise me you won’t get mad.” Your pre-teen or teenage daughter implores one day. Being the good, modern mum who doesn’t fancy resembling your own mum on how she handled communication with you while growing up, you sit down patiently and nod your head in encouragement for your daughter to go on.
“Well, you see mum_that boy who lives next to that grocer’s whose mum you are friends with_” Your daughter stammers. “Well, we kind of really like each other.” BAM! She finally drops the bombshell. Something you didn’t quite expect to happen this early for her and weren’t the slightest prepared on how to deal with it. What do you do about it?
I once spoke to a mother of a 16 year old who rambled on, on how she and her daughter had this amazing mother-daughter relationship. She mentioned how her daughter could tell her anything and how she in turn impacted her wisdom to her daughter. This mother seemed pretty sure that her daughter wouldn’t fall by the wayside seeing how perfect their relationship was.
Then I spoke to yet another mother who was every bit the African (the first one was Asian) and she equally mentioned that she encouraged her daughters to talk. Both of her daughters are pre-teens and she is the modern Kenyan mother who conforms to the school of thought, that you should be friends with your children. It was quite interesting listening to her as we children of the late eighties and prior did not have that kind of open minded mothers.
Our parents weren’t very equipped to give us that sex ed and most of the things we learnt about sex later in life, we figured out by ourselves or through watching movies and experimentation. They were also not the kind of mothers who fancied being friends with us. They were disciplinarians where the slightest form of truancy from you elicited a beating. However, I do not blame them for the old fashioned way they raised us.
According to an article on the Ceasefire website/ Radar reports dated October 7th 2014 and reported by Susan Yara from Mombasa, Kenya;
Kenya has seen an alarming rise of teenage pregnancies forcing thousands of girls to abandon their education early and spurring a debate over the causes and repercussions of the issue.
Susan goes on to list probable causes of the rise in teenage pregnancies in Kenya as early marriages, broken families, rape, peer pressure, inadequate sex ed and alcohol and substance abuse.
So being a knowledgeable mother aware that your daughter is experiencing raging hormones, already has confided in you that she has a boyfriend and is in need of thorough parental guidance and not anger, how would you go about it?
Quite a number of mothers may be tempted to conclude that friendship with their children is needed at this point, so that their children can be open with them at all times. That way, they figure it would be much easier to keep track of their children’s activities and therefore, avoid the worst from happening.
Rather than being this overly strict mum who comes across as tyrannical and in the process scares away her children from opening up, why not act like a friend your kids can confide in about anything? Some mothers tend to reason.
However an article on the website http://www.modernmom.com titled BE YOUR KID’S BEST PARENT, NOT THEIR BEST FRIEND! tends to disagree and expounds why. A section of the article states;
A parent should be the one person a child feels he can talk to about anything, while at the same time being the person who sets the rules, boundaries and expectations for behaviors.
This structure is what provides children with a sense of safety and belonging.
If done well, this is how an open relationship between parent and child is established. When a child breaks the rules, boundaries and expectations (as they are sure to do – this is how they learn), it is the job of the parent to give the child consequences for those behaviors, while using the experience as a teachable moment.
How can we learn from this? How can we do better next time?
Our job as parents is to prepare our children for life. To be able to talk with our children about real issues, with the intention of teaching them life skills so they, and we, will feel confident that when they go out on their own, they will be best able to make the safest and smartest choices. “Friends” do not have that type of relationship; active parents do.
So as a mother, who wants to be a best parent and not a best friend, how will you handle your daughter dating or wanting to date in her pre-teens or teenage years?