At this point in time, Soleil is close to becoming a 14 year old. Luna will hit 12 soon. This is a fascinating time to parent children. We have a political mess in the US. Our children see it and are old enough to comprehend what hatred is being spewn from the other side. They see others pushing their ideas on people. They see their friends being pushed down with words and they are not happy.
Things parents need to manage with parenting teens:
- Bullying. It has never gone away. Zero tolerance doesn’t work. We push the kids to stand up for others, but goddamn that is hard to do. All kids are bullied and most kids join in on bullying even if you don’t think yours do. Yes. Mine do too.
- Sex. What? But Nance, your children are only 14 and 12 (rounding up). How can you talk about sex? We need to because the schools can only give so much information and we have to fill in the gaps. It’s our moral ground. There’s a rumor that a kid in 7th grade (in between my kids) has been caught sexting and she has had sex with several boys. A few boys have bragged about their sexual exploits. THESE THINGS EXIST. I have promised both kids that if they ask for a condom, I will hand one over, no questions asked. I will admit that I will ask if they want to talk about it.
- Gender. What is gender? Why do we not only have male and female? What does it mean to be transgender? They already have gay friends. They will meet a transgender person in their lifetime. Time to start building up the laizzez-faire attitude we want them to have. It doesn’t matter. It’s the other person’s life.
- Racism. It’s real. Kids don’t always see it. We address it often. We talk about systematic racism and blatant racism. We talk about how our economic system has worked against People of Color. We talk about how there’s little cultural history compared to European families. How does one deal with the entire group of blacks, who are mostly from different cultures 400 years ago, as one group because they have the same skin color? We talk about that.
- Rape. I’ve got two girls. They need to know when they can say no and how to keep saying it. They also need to know that yes is okay, but no has to be listened to. It’s scary out there. I know more than a few women who were date raped as teens. I’d prefer my kids not be in that group.
- Politics. Teens are starting to learn about politics. Whenever our kids start parroting us, we will suddenly start with the opposite side’s argument. This keeps them on their toes and forces a bit of thinking to happen. Yeah, thinking. We’re evil parents.
What do you discuss with your teens? I have more that we deal with on a daily basis (including Hamilton, the Musical), but these are the important ones.