Slow Down Girlfriend!

My tween daughters are far more sophisticated than I was at their ages, 9 and 12. But they’re still kids. To keep them from growing up too fast, yet without being too prohibitive, I follow a few simple rules.

1)  Yes to iCarly, no to Glee. I wish my girls were still watching PBS shows, but through friends and older cousins, they’ve discovered there’s far more exciting television out there. I try to steer them toward programs with strong female characters and where dating is a minimal part of the narrative.

2)   Yes to texting; no to Facebook. Though texting is a distraction at times (I’ve had to tell both not to bring their iPod touches to the dinner table), it lets them set up their own social calendar rather than relying on me to do it. For now, I’ve nixed Facebook. Counselors at my older daughter’s middle school have told me that cyber-bullying through Facebook is one of their biggest problems.

3)  Yes to concealer, no to mascara: When my older daughter started middle school, she became self-conscious about the occasional pimple. I could easily remember how that felt so I decided letting her use a little concealer wasn’t the worst thing in the world. But I’ve repeatedly said no to her requests for other kinds of makeup. She can wait until high school for lipstick and eyeliner.

4)  Yes to school dances; no to dating. Today, it’s not unheard of for fourth-graders to be “dating” each other. Neither one of my girls has so far expressed any real interest in boys. Still, both my husband and I have made it clear that we think they’re too young to be dating anyone – even if dating just means occasionally sitting next to each other in the cafeteria.

Yes to popular brand names, no to suggestive clothing. One of my older daughter’s favorite clothing stores is dimly lit and full of photographs of bare-chested young men. I don’t like it, but I recognize that the label carries certain panache with her tween friends. I let her shop there but she’s not allowed to buy anything too revealing and no shorts or sweatpants with words across the backside.

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chrystal l.
I think that the additional pressures of the school work that kids are expected to accomplish contribute to our kids growing up mentally faster than their bodies and even with boys which I have age 6 and 13 you have to make sure to set clear guide lines and also allow them to be themselves but step in when needed or when you feel they need guidence making a better choice. Bottom line kids need to be kids, get them outside and allow them to play and act their ages and they will be much happier in the long run.
Solange C.
Great article! Kids are definitely growing up too fast these days, especially girls. I have a 7 year old boy, a 5 year old girl and a baby girl. Several times while playing with her dolls I have heard my daughter talking about dating boys and being a popular girl. She is also fascinated with my make-up and keeps wishing to be old enough to wear it. When she knows that her brother will be having some friends over for playdates, she changes her play clothes for dresses. Sometimes it is hard for parents to control the influences that our kids have outside our homes. My kids go to a daycare during the day and I know that they learn some of these things there.
Tiffany P.
I love this list. Makes me nervous about what my daughter will want/do when she gets old enough. She is only 14 months old now but gets her way lol :)
Raquel S.
great article, with great advice. I oldest granddaughter is 9yrs old and we tell her no to any texting or phone till she's 12, even though the school gave every student a I-Pad, so we monitor, that use.
Christine A.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this article! I think you are doing an amazing job, and I love your ideas and rules for your kids! Kids, especially girls, are becoming far too adult, far too early these days! Great job!!
Rekha J.
Tell us your thoughts... (and remember, it is all about the details)
Roxanne L.
I follow some of the same rules although I have boys. Yes to school dances. No to dating. Yes to texting. No to Social media (no facebook, twitter). So far they seem happy with these rules. Thank you for your story.
Connie L.
These rules are ones to live by. Especially with girls cause they are known for pushing the envelop. If you give them an inch they will take a mile and then you have a fight on your hands. The best advice that I ever received was make the rules and stick to them ALWAYS.
Tammy M.
It's funny you think this way because I have four kids - two of each - and I thought the girls were much easier. Boys want to try everything more extreme. One of mine was with his cousin and actually tried skateboarding off a roof of a shed when he was thirteen. He wanted to try all sports and was pretty good at all of them. He dislocated his shoulder and broke his hand in football in high school. My girls were pretty tame, they did get a smart mouth on occasion which would get them grounded at home. My rules were pretty much the same.
Helene A.
My children still in toddler and baby time... But they say that babies grow fast... And one day I will awake, and they will be teenagers too...! Thanks for sharing, that is an inspiring fact that makes parents. like me, have courage to best rise their own kids; even against the popular thoughts in this society.