As a parent of a 12 year old girl I feel as though I’m on a permanent treadmill. A treadmill that’s in constant rotation of hormones, acne and eyeliner. I feel as though the majority of the time though I speak a different language to my tweenager. The tweenage phase is something you are not warned about. From other parents you will get warned about the tired newborn stage, the demanding toddler stage, nothing really happens then between 3 and 13 (they would have you believe) and then all hell breaks loose from 13-18. Then if you’re lucky, they’ll move out and only pop back once a week to bring their dirty washing and to borrow £20. But the tweenage stage is vile, vile I tell you. You are left scratching your head at how your beautiful young girl has tuned into a hormonal grunt monster in the space of a few months. You can’t even blame her age and say to yourself, well it is the teenage stage we were warned about, we’ve had 13 years to prepare for this, no she is 11 and acting like a 16 year old.
So here is my open letter to my 12 year old daughter. As she is currently banned from social media, I’ll make sure she gets a copy. I think she may struggle to read full words and sentences that are not punctuated with emojis but I guess she’ll have to get used to it!
Shall I keep this simple, I know you’ve got better things to do than to listen to an old fogey like me. I want to tell you how wonderful you are. How proud we are of you. How delightfully silly you are. How beautiful you are. But I know you don’t need to hear that from me, I understand you need to hear that from your friends, your peers. I understand that posing with the Ipad for 3 hours to take that perfect selfie and sharing that image on social media means that a day went un-wasted. But what if that perfect selfie only got 4 likes from the 100’s of friends you’ve got? How do you feel inside? Because I know at that age I would have felt gutted that I’d only got 4 people to like something I’d done. Hell, I feel it now when I post funny witty comments on Facebook and get no likes but some random rubbish gets 30 likes and I’m old enough to know better! We all need approval from our peers but its a shallow world out there, don’t start feeling as though the only worth you have is how many likes you get for your heavily filtered selfie.
You are intelligent. Don’t waste the free time you have getting involved in other peoples tittle tattle. I know it’s easy and fun to talk about rubbish and make up silly words but when that gets in the way of school work, that’s the time to wind it down. I wish I could have my school days again and not waste night after night memorizing Red Dwarf scripts but to actually do that little bit more. To turn those C’s and B’s into A’s would be a dream come true. It would probably mean that instead of working in an office, I could have had my pick of careers. I don’t want limited options for you at the age of 16 or 18. I’ve told you before that the competition for decent jobs is going to be fierce in 10 or so years time. It’s hard for people with top grades to get into good universities or decent companies, imagine trying to do that with mediocre grades and the only thing you’re fluent in is sarcasm. Knuckle down and put your school work first.
You are too young for social media. Far too young to handle the responsibilities that come with posting every single detail about yourself online. You are far too young to be up at midnight talking to friends on your phone. You cannot handle the pressure of your phone going off every 3 seconds with demands from friends. I don’t know how you think having 10 conversations with 10 different people is having a social life. I’ve read through your messages and believe me, the majority are absolute drivel. I bet you, If you had to pay 10p for every text or online message you sent, you’d all soon stop! I’m not an internet virgin. I have Facebook, I had Instagram. But I didn’t grow up in a world where someone could contact me 24/7. There’s one thing posting a few photos or commenting on subjects you like but when someone who is bored thinks they can bombard you with messages all the time, that’s ridiculous. You already jump a mile when your phone goes off and you feel as though you’re missing out if you don’t answer straight away. Learn to switch off before social media ruins your life.
I know we’ve had a tough couple of weeks. You know you’re having to work hard to regain our trust again. It won’t happen overnight. Don’t even think because were not mentioning “It” every 5 minutes that its been forgotten. We are your parents and we have stopped your Facebook, Instagram etc because we feel as though it was ruining you. It was turning you into a person that wasn’t very nice. I can handle the sulks and the woe is me act. I can hand on heart say that I made a mistake letting you use Facebook. And I bet that any parent who had the opportunity to read their childs Facebook or Instant Messages would feel the same way. We have gone a step further than most, we’ve banned it and probably won’t relent on it. Essentially we’ve done it because we love you.
You are loved. You are loved by the people who should mean the world to you. We put you and your brother first and expect behaviour from you both that reflects this. I know it’s hard at your age but family must come first. We are your stability when you have wobbles, we pick you up when you’ve had a shitty day and are your protectors when we need to be. We have loads in common but I’m your Mom, I’ll come down on you like a tonne of bricks the split second after singing along to Panic! At The Disco with you if I have to.
I’ll finish this off with a last thought. I may talk around my hat and I could probably say what I need to in 200 words and not 1000 but I speak the truth. I do not bullshit and would not bullshit you.
I love you.
Now tidy you room.