Young girls are a mystery whose personality keeps changing everyday. I have a nearly eight year old and lately, there have been so many instances when I feel she’s already a teenager. The changes in these neither teens nearly tweens are so subtle that it is easy to miss the changes if you don’t keep a close watch.
Moreover, with the exposure the girls today have to social media, internet and television from a young age; it is extremely hard to shelter them. As a mother, I want my daughter to be in sync with the changing times without being exposed to the harsh realities, a price that goes hand-in-hand with modernity.
While my daughter may not have a social media account of her own, that hasn’t left her impaired as she expertly navigates content on my Facebook and Instagram handles. The International school that we are paying a steep amount to contributes in the digital knowledge as she’s taught to code, surf and navigate the virtual world while learning the nuances of Math and Science. Undoubtedly, this is a necessity as the kids today have to be experts in the virtual and the real world.
What can we do as parents, then? We are torn in drawing a line between what is acceptable and not. Foremost, we have to ensure that the content they are exposed to any devices are kid-safe. The rising number of lurkers are just waiting for one slip to happen, to target young, naive daughters like ours every single day. There is no greater task for us as parents to raise kids who are self reliant yet street smart.
Before I became a parent, I had always assumed that I would be a cool mother, a friend and a person whom my child could confide in. Now, after becoming one, I realise the fine line that I seem to tread on between being a mother and a friend. When I was young, I always used to think that this would be an easy thing to accomplish especially if I have a daughter. The rosy images of mother-daughter duos sharing make up, going on shopping escapades and sharing a laugh as we walk hand-in-hand into the unknown seemed just like it was going to realise in a matter of years when I had my own daughter. What I didn’t realise then was that being a friend to your own kid is easier said than done.
While I would love nothing more than giggle and shop and have fun with my wonderful mini-me, I also find myself responsible for how she’s behaving in a social setting. As a parent, the way my child dresses up, talks, socialises and even ‘breathes’ is a direct reflection on the values I’m teaching her.
The child is a direct reflection of the parent and you can never be your child’s friend no matter how much you desire and try. In the beginning years, I had to parent my daughter to teach her the right from the wrong and as she grew up, I was too ingrained in juggling the role playing the good cop, the bad cop, the teacher, the driver, the doctor, the beautician, the chauffeur and every other role, the moment demanded to ever just be ‘her’ friend.
And the more I see my child spreading her wings, discovering herself and entering the big world , I realise what I am doing is exactly what I am meant to be doing. She has ample friends and what she needs is friends of her age group who play, learn and grow vicariously with each other. She doesn’t need a 30-something woman who is actually her mother being her friend because I can never switch off being a parent to truly be her friend.
Let us, as parents, go away with the guilt of trying to be multitaskers at everything. Most of the times, all we need to do is just be there, be calm and happy hoping that this positivity and love will translate in raising happy and healthy children.