Saturday, December 02, 2006

A miracle has occurred

(Just playing with the macro option on my camera.)

Here's some news that will hopefully inspire some of you who are parents to younger children.

The biggest bone of contention in this house has always been Em's access to the internet. There have been tears, screaming, threats, personal insults and never-ending drama over this one issue.

As a parent, you get the crap scared out of you by the newspaper and radio and school. I didn't want Em to end up as the sex slave of a 43 year old white man she met in some chat room, so we have always limited her internet access.

The Mister is a total geek, so he bought a router and then wrote a program that allows us to set her hours of access every day. It has been wonderful to have. But there was always the begging and scheming and cheating by Em in order to scrounge more time.

She has settled down about this in the past year and really accepted that we are doing what we feel is best for her, even if we don't always understand the importance of the internet to her social life. So currently, she gets 3 hours a day on school days, and 4 to midnight on weekends.

Yesterday she sat down with me and calmly, logically, unemotionally yet passionately argued that she is old enough now to control her own internet life. She didn't scream, she didn't tell me she hates me. She did tell me how she feels about us controlling this very important resource for her. She feels like a little girl and wants some freedom. She feels embarrassed when she has to tell her friends that she has to go because her time is up. She told me that she can be trusted. She told me what she spends her time doing when she is on-line. She doesn't understand why midnight is the witching hour for me. She does extremely well in school with no attention or nagging from me.

I listened carefully. I told her that i would think about it and talk it over with the Mister (which is really a formality as he will pretty much give her whatever she wants.) I explained that sometimes for me it's easier to keep doing what we have been doing without really considering her changing maturity level. I praised her for her thoughtful argument that was done without her losing control of her temper. I was impressed.

Where did this child come from?

As a result, she now has internet access from 8 am until midnight every day. I still see no reason why a young girl needs to be on-line after midnight, and i ain't budging on that.

It was really exciting to see and hear. And today Em is quite proud of herself. At breakfast, when we told her the good news she said, "It looks like i actually am gaining some maturity for real, huh?" And then she giggled.


urban-urchin said...

This still scares the crap out of me. My brother and sil have let my 13 yr old neice have free access to the internet since she was 11. WTF??

My 7 year old has been begging to have wireless on her computer in her room. Our answer is a resounding HELL NO.

Em is obviously mature enough to handle it and good for you for recognizing that- again you inspire me in your mothering.

Anonymous said...

I always questioned the logic of the witching hour rules at Em's age....If I had really wanted to, I was perfectly capable of finding myself ass-deep in compost before ten PM, if I put my mind to it.

As a "legal" adult though I came to recognize that it had more to do with my parents taking a pro-active approach (which I applaud) to my upbringing. They always knew where I was and who I was with, serving as an excellent deterrent for trouble....not that I was an angel or one of Satan's evil minions. As I matured, they allowed enough leeway to get into a moderate amount of trouble....also I could learn the importance of responsibility and self-reliance. How much you give, all depends on the kid.

Anonymous said...

You are such a reasonable person! It amazes me. Something tells me that Em will live up to your trust in her.

If I was a parent, the idea of my child/young person being on the Internet these days would scare the stuffing out of me. I'm over 50 and mine is filtered! There is just too much crap out there.



Lynnea said...

Ah, there is hope.

Yes, I agree with the scary scary factors of internet access. We had to pull back even harder last summer on my 10 year old son. He was accessing to play games on sites appropriate to his age, i.e., etc. However when a friend came over I caught them looking at naked women. Not surprising for 10 year old boys, but that doesnt mean they are not safe from predators if they start getting more adventurous. So we cut internet unless we load the site. Poor kid, so monitored. But hey, gotta keep them safe!

Mignon said...

I too am amazed at the maturity of your relationship with Em. But I also cringe at the thought of a teenager conducting his/her social life through a computer, and for so many hours a day. This is just me being old-fashioned, I guess. And midnight is really very late. Whether or not bad things can happen after 12 is less of a worry than whether or not your child is getting enough sleep. Just stuff I'm also going to have to worry about soon enough...

Anonymous said...

You're doing a great job with Em, stick to your guns! My 10 year old son has a computer in the playroom that he uses to go to bookmarked sites like and He has to ask us before he goes to any new site, and he knows we can and will periodically stop by to see what he's doing. We also have a Remote Desktop Management program that lets us log in to his machine, see what he is seeing, and control his mouse if necessary (my husband brought it home from work). So far, he hasn't done anything untrustworthy but I know sooner or later he's going to try to find pictures of boobs or something. Which, you know, freaks me out because he is my BAYBEE!!!

Anonymous said...

There's some program on tv where they catch pedophiles and in the one episode I watched, all the men found the children through the Internet. So, the danger is real.

meno said...

u-u, No no no for the 7 year old. no. you can't control your brother, but it's still scary. What are they thinking? My mothering isn't that inspiring, but my daughter is. But thank you.

patches, i know she can find trouble before midnight, but she hasn't. And she's really a sensible kid. But of course i still worry, because i know what i did at her age.

chani, She deserves it. And it does scare the stuffing out of me. But in less than two years she'll be out of here. So, who filters your internet?

maggie, Ten years old. So young. But you do what you need to and we all support you, totally. Monitored = love, they know that, despite the pouting.

mignon, It's a whole new world. But then again, here i am conducting an important part of my social life through the internet. And she can't spend that much time actually on line as she is in school for much of it. She has shown herself to be pretty sensible with the sleep time. But i get your worry, as i do it too. Sigh.

thailandchani said...

Meno, it is just the security setting I have on the browser. Internet Options --> Content --> Content Advisor. Set it then as you like it. Mine blocks XXX sites and so on. I also have a hyperactive pop-up blocker. :)



Anonymous said...

It really is amazing what transferring a little control can do, isn't it?

Lucia said...

What a wonderful bit of relationship maturing, really for both of you. She feels like she got what she wanted/needed by dealing with it in a mature way. You still have some (but not as much) control. You're a good mum.

Mother of Invention said...

Well, done...all of you! You have instilled honesty and openness in your can you go wrong with that?

Girlplustwo said...

i hate that we have to worry about our children getting preyed upon. but what a lovely Em, to so amazingly share her thoughts with you, which must mean that if anything creepy ever did happen, she'd know exactly how to respond and who to tell.

you are a heck of a mum.

karmic said...

Thats a great picture.
And Em shows how good a job you have done with parenting. You rock girl!

meno said...

elizabeth, Oh, i won't give in to the after midnight thing. That's for her to discover after she goes to college.

holly, i know the danger is real, and so does she because her mother reads her every article about these sorts of things in the paper.

chani, oh. thanks. :) I have the hypercative pop-up blocker too.

kerewin, yes it is amazing. And she helped me to see that it was time.

lucia, thank you. i try. sometimes i don't succeed, but i always try.

MOI, thanks. i hope that we can't go wrong, but not everything depends on parenting, most of it has to come from her.

jen, i hate it too. It feels like opening the door to the wotld and all the craziness it holds. But there isn't really any realistic way to fight against that intrusion, not for long anyway.

sanjay, i like my picture too, thank you! I get sort of uncomfortable giving myself all this credit for Em being a good kid. I know many good parents who aren't as lucky. She really is the one who rocks, i just pebble! :)

Bobealia... said...


Josephine said...

What a smart girl - er, young woman - she is...

Bob said...

you deserve your pat on the back. Em is growing up and demonstrating the results of good parenting.

In my day, it wasn't unfetered internet access I argued for, it was an extended curfew when dating. I wasn't as eloquent and reasoned as Em.

Our kids didn't really argue for more (except for allowances), we generally gave them more responsibility ahead of their asking. Most times it was justified, but not quite all. What patches said resonates with me, give them more a little at a time, just enough to acknowledge their growing up but limiting the potential for trouble. If they fail, it is a small one that can be learned from without major trauma.

That works fine until they turn 18 and are on their own. Then the worrying really starts.

Platypus said...

That really is inspiring - on both counts. What a great daughter you're raising!

SuperP. said...

If you aren't reading her email and you are only watching the sites she hits, what, in her eyes is the problem.. just the time frame? I guess 4 hours a night on the PC is better than infront of the TV. Either way, it looks like you've taught her diplomacy and the benefits of a democratic environment. In that case, it sounds like she's probably learned moderation, maturity and discernment as well. Lets hope. The internet scares the hell out of me, too.

Andrea Frazer said...

I am up there with Mignon on the amount of time spent on the computer. That would worry me almost as much as her meeting sickos. I would fear obesity, or fantasy relationships rather than real ones. But then again, I look at the support I get from the computer at night. And the world is about technology now. It's kind of hard to say "Don't talk to strangers in the street!" but "Don't talk to them on the computer either! Can't you just crawl back into the uterus where it's a safe controlled environment?" Oy. The issues I'll be facing.

peevish said...

I agree with Sanjay, on all counts.