Alaina & Me
I recently got caught up cleaning my room and organizing my paperwork. It took a lot longer than I had planned because of all the old pictures I was coming across. This picture of Alaina and me was when she was around 2 1/2 years old. Her mother and I had just reconciled after our first separation. My poor baby has gone through the most out of all the children because she was the oldest and remembers most of the fights between her mother and I. I will always look at my baby girl the way I see her in this picture.
I know a lot of fathers feel the same way about their daughters. This can also be a big problem. As we're so busy looking at our daughters as if they are babies they are growing up faster than we like. As men we forget that girls mature faster than boys. Their interest in boys is just something we don't want to talk about and as our girls fill out we fail to hug them because of that uncomfortable feeling of realizing that your baby is now a young woman. We're so focused on the way she used to be while time keeps moving forward. Similar to driving while staring in the rear view mirror, it's just a matter of time that you'll crash.
As a single parent I've tried my best to keep things well balanced for my children. They will never have the excuse that I was absent from functions. I refuse to allow them the excuse that their mistakes are because their mom hasn't been there and when my ego is riding high I've told them that they are better off having me as a father than some kids are having both parents. I've also been told that I'm one of the cool dads but now I wonder if I was being played. I have tried to give my kids the freedom they need to make their own mistakes but I've also guided them every step and don't expect them to make certain mistakes. Time has convinced me that sometimes people don't believe you until they have made that same mistake themselves. My kids are no exception and so I've incorporated the ever famous phrase "I told you so".
Teenage girls are a whole new species and I am definitely not an expert but I will share what I have learned so far. Back when I was a teen and started to like girls I would have to call them at home. Sometimes a parent or older sibling would answer the phone and so in a nervous tone I had to ask for permission to speak to the girl. Now most teenage girls have their own cell phones, emails, twitter, myspace, facebook and instant messenger accounts. Teenage boys don't have to go through what I went through to court a young lady. It's all easy access and most teenagers without adult supervision will push the envelope. Flirtations over text message and instant messenger programs are widely used by our teens that it's own phrase has been created, sexting. I also don't remember using such vulgar language especially if an adult was within earshot.
Recently I was shocked by my daughter and what I saw on her myspace account. I was lucky to catch it early enough thanks to having friends that are always looking out for the kids and myself. Her facebook account was very different from myspace but of course on facebook I was her friend. The internet allows people to take on different personalities and sometimes kids make themselves feel better by acting a certain way or what they think is socially acceptable amongst their friends. I have always talked to my daughter about character and if a certain action is questionable to pray on it. I have had her write about her experience and what exactly she was thinking. To make a long story short she liked the attention boys gave her by being a certain way. She did not think of the long term consequences such as college recruiters, employment recruiters, or even child predators reading what she was putting out there. Another thing she didn't think about was that the relationship with boys who liked her myspace account was only going to lead to one thing and it wouldn't be a relationship worth having. I gave her a lot of freedom and it was all based on trust. I regret not listening to Dr. Laura's advice against teens having these social networking accounts. I am now convinced that our kids need to learn how to socialize face to face and be who they really are and not be so quick to use their cell phones to text. I have cut off my daughter's phone and accounts. I might one day pick up a phone for emergency reasons only but it will not have text functions or a camera. For now she will always have change on her to use a pay phone.
I was so caught up looking at my girl as my baby that I did not even think she was capable of speaking in a vulgar tone. I am still disappointed but at the same time happy that it was caught and I have been able to talk to her about the consequences. She didn't fight me on giving up her phone because she is more concerned at gaining my trust again. Well it's either that or she felt that I was going to beat her because I was so upset. I was able to keep my composure and I was amazed at how much she cried just from me telling her that I was disappointed and didn't trust her anymore. I like to encourage adopting changes to technology but I still believe there is so much more value in learning how older generations communicated and developing valuable relationships by being able to be yourself. God help our children and our parents to provide the proper guidance.