Slow Down: How To Prevent Your Kids From Growing Up Too Fast
My eight-year-old has been fantasizing about the day that she gets to wear a bra – and the day that she has something to fill that bra up with. She also daydreams about being old enough to drive herself around and independent enough to transform her long dark brown curls into a short funky haircut that is dyed bright Kool-Aid red.
Without a doubt she is a quirky little kid who desperately longs to be a teenager. I’ve noticed that most of her friends are just like her. They are all into growing up too fast.
As her mom, I know that while she THINKS she’s ready to be a pre-teen just a step away from the glamorous world of teen-dom, she is absolutely not ready. She is a baby who has so much to learn before she can even think about becoming independent. And it’s my job to make sure that she doesn’t grow up too fast and find herself in situations that she isn’t emotionally equipped to handle.
Call me overprotective – I don’t care. She is still my baby. The preteen and teen years will come soon enough with all the angst, drama and tears that come with raging hormones. I can’t make time stand still, but I’m determined not to help Father Time move any faster.
I believe that our children just have too many outside influences today that are causing them to grow up too fast. And I don’t believe that growing up too fast is healthy at all. Being a child should be all about innocence and learning about the world without the pressures of pending adulthood.
So I’ve put a few simple measures in place to limit some of the “grown up” influences in my daughter’s life:
1. Limiting her television – Have you noticed how all the shows on kiddie TV have very adult storylines? There is always boyfriend-girlfriend drama and parents on shows seems to be either clueless or nonexistent. My daughter only gets to watch TV on the weekends (she needs to focus on homework anyway). And when she watches, I’m usually hovering around ready to change the channel to something wholesome if I need to (if I can find it)!
2. Monitoring her friendships – If my daughter starts hanging out with a child that acts too “grown” for her age, I’m pretty quick to squash that relationship. I can’t dictate who my daughter’s friends are, but I can wield the power of the car. And I am absolutely not driving my daughter to playdates with little girls who think they are teens.
3. Vetoing her wardrobe – There have been times when I walk into a kid’s clothing store and wonder if I have stepped into the pediatric version of Victoria’s Secret. Clothes that are too tight, too short or show her tummy are NOT allowed no matter how much she begs to wear this grown up gear. End of story.
Of course my daughter doesn’t always like or understand her mom’s old-fashioned rules. She sometimes talks about the things that her friends are allowed to do that she is not. I’m quick to remind her that I’m HER mother and my job is to care for and protect HER at all costs. The other parents get to make decisions for their children.
Childhood is a magical, beautiful moment in time. It only comes once. I’m doing my best to make sure that my daughter actually has a childhood – not just mini-teen years.
Do you ever feel like your children are growing up too fast?
Yolanda Darville is a wife, mom and freelance writer focusing on issues that make a difference. To read more of her writings connect with her on Twitter at @YolandaDarville.