“Why can’t I watch “Monster High”?” asks your daughter, of the web series based on the lives of teenage female monsters.
“Because you’re barely six-years-old and they’re in high school.”
“But Layla’s mom let’s her watch it and so does Rebecca’s.”
“I don’t care what their moms let them do. You live here and these are my rules,” you say, sounding just like your mom.
End of discussion.
Until the next time she brings it up. Which tends to be whenever she comes from a friend’s house. But it’s not just this show, that bothers you, it’s also “Barbie: Life In The Dream House,” which became off limits when you realized Barbie and Ken were dating. Like, what did you expect? They did create Ken for the sole purpose of being Barbie’s dream companion, but somehow it doesn’t seem right that they’re going out on dates for a show that’s marketed to little girls.
All day you find you’re asking yourself: Is this age-appropriate?
And it’s nail polish. too. Everyday she’s asking you to paint her nails and toes. What’s next? Lipstick? Heels? Once you saw a four-year-old at the park with more makeup in her purse than you. She was also sporting a pretty serious mini dress. Talk about four going on 40. By the time she’s eight-years-old she’ll be ready to get a driver’s license, and watch Scandal.
And as strongly as you feel about keeping your daughter in a little girl’s lane, sometimes you wonder if you’re doing the right thing. Maybe a little nail polish on a six-year-old doesn’t mean she’s going to get pregnant by her first period. After all, Layla’s mom does let her do it and Layla’s not a bad kid. Apparently, she watches “Monster High” too, and drinks soda, and once came to school with eyeshadow on and it wasn’t Halloween.
Sometimes you wonder when you became so conservative.
Growing up, curse words were a staple in your home from the time you understood language, now you won’t even say “fat” or “stupid,” around your girls for fear of them using it at the wrong time in the wrong way. But is it too much? How do you figure out what’s age-appropriate?
“How did you decide what was age appropriate?” you ask your mom over the phone.
“I made the decisions according to what I could deal with. Ya’ll didn’t watch scary movies because I refused to be up all night with scared kids. You know what your children can and can’t handle. You know them better than anyone else.”
Point taken. The one time you and your brother snuck and watched a movie where this woman’s head was in the fish tank had you afraid to go to bed for a week. Boy, how you wished you had listened to her.
Still, you reach out to Anita who has three kids ages 11, 8 and 6. If anyone has recent experience navigating what is age appropriate for her kids, she does, plus she’s got this Zen mom thing going on that you can appreciate.
“I think each child is completely different,” she says. “I gave my oldest child the ” birds and the bees” talk in second grade. She handled it really well. My youngest is going into second grade…and he is in no way ready for ‘the talk’.”
It’s interesting that she says that because you find that your five-year-old was much different at three-years-old than your current three-year-old is now. Your eldest had an extensive vocabulary and loved to spend time articulating her thoughts while your youngest just wants to play.
She continues, “I found myself telling my 10-year-old daughter about sexual trafficking of young girls…my mind was tripping! Asking why am I doing this! But my intuition…my soul kept asking me to go on. Well, my daughter, in turn, started an organization called Cause Kidz that raises money through street performances and gives it to causes that help kids. She raised $4,000 for a library for young women who have been sexually trafficked. I think it’s best to listen to our intuition. We know our children the best. We know what gives them nightmares. We know what inspires them. There is no rulebook. Trust yourself.”
Word. Too loose; too strict? Who can really say? You think of your neighbor who has two daughters, one in the 8th grade and one in the 5th, that she walks to and from school each day. Why is she so protective? You and your brother were walking to school together when you were in the 1st and 2nd grade. But then you think of this neighbor’s twenty-something year-old daughter who got caught up in the streets and figure she wishes she had kept her closer. We don’t like to make the same mistakes.
Like your favorite psychologist Dr. Kristin Carothers said so simply, “Rules for your house are based on what you think is right or wrong (i.e. your values).”
She couldn’t be more right. You can’t bring your kids up on someone else’s values. If it doesn’t work out are you going to blame them? So figuring out what’s age appropriate for them depends on you. Your rules are your rules and you have to be okay with that. End of discussion.