Grown-Up Games

We all remember special events during our childhood. The first time we learned to ride a bike, our first horror flick, the first time we moved, and yes our first kiss. Recently I came across a situation that gave me serious concern and more than a moment’s pause. I noticed that a 12 year old girl was portraying herself as an older girl and had stated that she was in a relationship. There are some who will read this who will feel that there’s no problem with it. They will say things like “I did something similar when I was a child and I turned out fine” or “I know someone who has done that but nothing bad has happened” and even “back in the day girls were getting married at age 12 so what’s the problem?” and worse yet “let them make their own mistakes they will learn better”. Before you write me off completely, do me a favor and read this entire post with an open mind.

As adults I put the majority of the responsibility on us. EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE A CHILD and EVEN if you know YOUR child is not doing it. There used to be a time when every adult a child came in contact with had some hand in raising it. If a child was caught in the bathroom kissing another child, the teacher would come down on them, then the principal, then both sets of parents, their entire church family, and even the lunch lady. It was acceptable because the overall goal was the same; everyone wanted what was best for every child. Now it has become taboo to say something to a child who isn’t yours. If you step in and say something, you run the risk of having to deal with some angry parent, or some “professional” claiming that you don’t want the child to feel attacked. I ask you…should we be proud of where this has led us? News stories of 6th graders having sex at school have all but fizzled out…not because the sex has stopped but because it has become common place. Courts are FILLED with cases of men being brought up on charges because they had sex with a girl who claimed she was 18, her Facebook picture LOOKED like she was 18, but she was really 14, and every day children’s lives are ruined by decisions they’ve made that they should have never been in a position to be able to make.

As parents now days we realize the importance our children place on being accepted, and everyone wants to be the “cool” parent. Who wants to tell their kid: “No! You can’t go out on an unsupervised date even though all your friends are doing it because you are only 12!”?  Or “I am going to approve every Facebook friend you have”. Or “You can’t stay out after midnight even though that’s when the great party starts!” No one wants to be that parent, but I ask you is the alternative worth it? Is it worth it to let your 12 year old get on Facebook and portray themselves as a 16 year old just so they can have what everyone else has? Is it worth it to let your kid go out on a date because everyone else is doing it? Is it worth it to leave them open to such life changing consequences just so you can be seen as the cool parent?

For a moment I would like you to imagine the following: Your 12 year old daughter asks you if they can have a Facebook account (Facebook rules are that you must be 13). You allow them to lie and state that they are older to get an account (everyone else is doing it…what can it hurt right?). They get on and post their age as 16 (which in your state is the age of consent). A few months go by and you check their account every now and then, you see no suspicious activity so you back off for a while. A few weeks later your daughter (who could easily pass for 16), is contacted by someone who says they just graduated from the same high school which they attend! They start up a lovely conversation. The individual suggests they meet in the school yard directly after school ends so they can have a great face to face talk! Your daughter sees no harm in this and goes to meet this person after school. They kidnap her, rape her, and leave her naked on the side of a busy street…and no one notices. You think this is far fetched? Go to your child’s school at the end of the day one day and see just how many kids are running around. Ever tried to find your kid in a crowd like that after school? It’s not easy. The effects on your daughter would be permanent. She would never get over the mental scars, and it’s possible she may never heal physically as I personally know someone who was raped as a child that then rendered her incapable of bearing children.

We allow young kids to be too old these days. People are allowing their children to date far too young, and it does them more harm than good. As a substitute teacher I watched classrooms full of children play “adult games”. Fifth graders were mad because their girlfriend “cheated” on them with another guy by kissing him. Sixth graders were calling each other whores and other names I won’t spell out because they were catching one another in the bathroom making out with their best friend. There is more drama in a 7th grade classroom than on Jerry Springer. What does this breed? Bitterness toward the opposite sex. They are not mature enough to handle a true relationship and then they become bitter forever over something the experienced much too early in life.

Amazingly parents think all of this is just “ok”. Do you then also think that it’s ok that these kids grow bored with their rendition of dating and move on to what they believe is the next logical step: sex? Is that ok? Where do you plan to draw the line? When does it stop being ok? Where is it too far? When are we going to stop being cool parents and start being responsible.

For those who are not parents, or who have seen other kids act this way, I challenge you to say something to these kids. There’s a reason for the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”. A parent can’t be there every second of the day. Step in and let the kids know that there’s someone watching, who loves and cares about them and want something better for them than to end up being the youngest guests on the Maury show trying to determine “who’s the baby daddy”. Parents, when someone else steps in with your child’s best interest at heart, stop getting defensive, and start being grateful that someone cared enough about your child to get them off a destructive path.

As a mother of boys I feel it is my responsibility to raise my sons in such a way that a girl would not be ashamed to take him home to her parents. If that means that other parents step in now and then and say “hey I caught your son in what looked like a very dangerous situation” then I’m grateful. Believe me, there’s not a woman out there whose child is in jail that doesn’t wish they did something different, or that one extra person said something.

Still not convinced? A girl gave birth to a baby when she was 14. When the same girl turned 26 she became a grandmother. No this was not in a 3rd world country, it was in the UK. So the next time you are ready to make a decision that you think will make you the “cool” parent, take another second and make sure that’s really what you want to do. Grown up games have grown up consequences.

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