February 8, 2012

A Safety Net...





There have been Mums and Dads raising kids since the dawn of time. Trying hard to get it right. Sometimes getting it wrong. But mostly aiming to raise happy, well adjusted functioning adults.


It's a journey full of twists and turns. Highs and lows. Graduations and/or groundings. Most of us get there in the end, for better or worse. I turned out alright but I know I gave my parents a few 'OMG, WTF?' moments along the way.


Now it's my turn to walk the walk and talk the talk.


But, wait... wait. Have you looked at the parenting landscape nowadays? Like whoa. Whole different ball game. There's the internet and mobile phones. Cyber bullying. Anorexia and bulimia. And don't get me started on the kinds of synthetic drugs available.


Everyone over 30 would have read this email that did the rounds a while back, I'm sure:


To everyone born in the 1920's, 30's 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's !!

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us and lived in houses made of asbestos.


They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes or cervical cancer.


Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paints.


We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets or shoes, not to mention, the risks some of us took hitchhiking.


As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.


Riding in the back of a Ute on a warm day was always a special treat.


We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.


Take away food was limited to fish and chips, no pizza shops, McDonalds, KFC, Subway or Red Rooster.


Even though all the shops closed at 6.00pm and didn't open on the weekends, somehow we didn't starve to death!

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.


We could collect old drink bottles and cash them in at the corner store and buy Fruit Tingles and some fire crackers to blow up frogs and lizards with.


We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soft drinks with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because......

WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!!


We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.


No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.


We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. We built tree houses and cubby houses and played in creek beds with matchbox cars.


We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-Boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape or DVD movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms..........WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!


We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.


Only girls had pierced ears!


We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.


You could only buy Easter Eggs and Hot Cross buns at Easter time.......no really!


We were given BB guns and sling shots for our 10th birthdays.


We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them!


Mum didn't have to go to work to help dad make ends meet!


Footy had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment.


Our teachers used to belt us with big sticks and leather straps and bullies always ruled the playground at school.


The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!


Our parents got married before they had children and didn't invent stupid names for their kids like 'Kiora' and 'Blade'.....


This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!


The past 70 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.


We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!


YOU are one of them! CONGRATULATIONS!



See that red highlighted section? Made our youth very different. Simpler. Less complicated by outside influences. A life where the unknown was exciting and fun, not bad and quite possibly dangerous.


Our Mums and Dads don't know how good they had it. (But I suspect there might be some that do).


We grew up with no Facebook, Twitter or any of those other social networky things. No iPods, iPhones or in fact, iAnything. If you wanted to talk to someone you either did it in person, face to face, or via the home telephone (usually in the main room of the house with your entire family listening in. And if your family was at all like mine, your father would walk past every few minutes saying "Are you STILL on the phone?")


My boys cannot believe I survived without all that technology stuff. I'm sure they think my life must have been SO boring.


Todays teenagers are literally given the world (via the internet) on a mobile phone. Drive past any high school after the final bell and take a look at the swarm of students pouring out of the gates. Just about all will have a phone in their hand, talking or texting away. I know my own teenage son certainly does the second he gets out of class.


The problem arises when teens assume they are anonymous or untouchable and don't consider about the ramifications of posting something online in cyberspace.


Well, I've got news for you, kids: IT'S THERE FOREVER. Those revealing photos. That argument on chat between you and someone else. Or even worse, a video.


It can All. Come. Back.


And if you become remotely famous (or infamous) watch what happens. Anyone with half a brain can go digging and it'll still be there.


I bang on about this issue a lot at home. Well, as much as I can anyway, without sounding like an over-protective or paranoid mother. And teenagers aren't the most receptive of audiences, are they? You keep talking and try to ignore their frustrating eye rolling and "Yeah, whatev's" but you still have to keep going. It's such a fine line to walk, innit? But a very important one all the same.


So what about you? What have you told your kids about using the internet? Do your kids have mobile phones? And how do you protect them?

[Picture courtesy of Photobucket]

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