Parenting is a very tedious, glorious, upsetting and tiring job all at once. Not all parents raise their children the same way and not all children are the same. Thus, it is very necessary for parents to do their parenting in such a way that the child doesn’t feel pressured or broken or upset.
However, parenting is always easier said than done, and this week Annie received many a query from very confused parents wanting an answer or two on what to do during a difficult situation with their child.
Q: Annie, my husband has a son from his previous marriage and he is 12 years old. We have got along quite alright for the year with which I’ve been married to his father, but recently I found some inappropriate content on his laptop and I tried to confront him about it. I felt that he was too young to be going through such websites. However, when I tried to speak to him he yelled at me saying “You’re not my mother so don’t try to be.” My husband wasn’t home when this happened and I don’t want to put him in trouble by telling my husband either. What should I do?
A: Well, first of all, I agree with you when you say 12 is too young for whatever content you might have found on his phone. You must make it clear that even though you’re not his mother, you are an adult and a parent figure in his life. The trick is to do it discreetly so you don’t alienate him. You don’t want to be too harsh. Talk with him. Have a nice conversation where he will feel that he can trust you, and quietly teach him what is right and what is wrong.
Q: Annie, my 14-year-old son just got super upset when I told him I wanted to look at his phone. I was telling him that it had better be “cleaned up.” He gets upset and states that it’s his only privacy. I get that but I pay the bills and he was really upset for a reason. I backed off for now and kept hold of his phone. I don’t want to have trust issues with him but I want to be the parent. I found something inappropriate before. Do I push this and demand to see it? I’m really torn.
A: The real issue is not that you pay the phone bills but rather that you’re the parent and have concerns about how your son is using his phone. Tell your son that you want to be sure he is using his phone in safe and healthy ways. Together with your son, establish clear rules and expectations, and remember that parents have to take actions sometimes that their children are not happy about. Help your son understand that it’s not about you having control over his life but rather about guiding him as he grows up and explores the world.
Do you have relationship issues or any problem you think might not have an answer? Try sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . Maybe a different opinion might help!)