Friday, July 13, 2012

When should kids. . . . .

Earlier today, I had a conversation/Facebook messaging session with one of my best friends.  We began discussing some of the differences between our two oldest daughters - both 9.  As with all parents, her daughter is allowed to do some things my daughter isn't and vice versa.  For example, her daughter talks on the phone with her friends frequently.  Mine doesn't yet.  However, mine is beginning to show interest in boys.  Hers isn't.

It got us both thinking about what is "normal" and what is too much, too soon.  We both commented that we didn't think we would be dealing with some of these issues until our kids were in high school.  So, I thought I would throw some questions out here on my blog to find out what other kids and parents are doing - what's normal and what's not.  Please leave a comment with your answers.  (You don't have to answer every single question if you don't want to and you can comment anonymously.)  Then, check back to read the comments others have left.  (My answers are in blue below.)

How old should kids be in order to. . .

1) Talk on the phone with friends? (just to chat for a while; no specific reason)
      - I wouldn't have a problem with my oldest doing this, but she has ever seemed interested.  My middle one maybe with some time constraints.
2) Have a cell phone? (Or have an iTouch type of device that allows them to Facetime, text, etc.)
     - None of mine have this yet.  At their age, I feel it is unnecessary and they are not responsible enough.
3) Have an email account or a Facebook page?
       - My two oldest have email accounts that they use occasionally.  We keep close tabs on what they are sending/receiving and it is mostly to family members.  Neither have or have asked for Facebook pages.  They won't get that until they are at least in middle school and then, they will be required to add both parents as "friends" so we can keep tabs.
4) Have a boyfriend/girlfriend?  (Not necessarily going out on dates, just referring to another as their boyfriend/girlfriend.)
      - This is harder to control than I would like since they develop relationships within school and I don't control who is in their class, etc.  However, I will say that my oldest (entering 5th grade this fall) is just beginning to experience this type of relationship.  She has not yet had someone she referred to as her "boyfriend," but others her age have.  If it was up to me, they wouldn't have this until at least middle school and they won't go out on a date until 15 or 16 (at least!)
5) Stay home alone for an hour or less?  (Only because my oldest has asked to do this a couple times)
      - She has asked, but I have said no.  My oldest is very mature, so I might be comfortable with this when she is around 12 (also helps that my in-laws live right behind us).  My middle one might have to be 30 and don't even want to think about the little one being old enough for this!!! :)
6) Have their own computer?  (Both of my oldest have asked.)
     - I really wouldn't mind this, but I don't think their use justifies the cost at this point.  They only use it to play games and send emails "for fun."  The oldest might use is occasionally for school.  I am not sure the youngest two are responsible enough, either.
7) Develop close friendships??
      - This is what started the conversation with my friend.  My oldest has not had what I would consider a close friendship that lasted longer than a few months.  (She did seem to develop a close relationship this Spring with another girl from church, but, due to travel, they have not seen each other over the summer.)  My middle one has 2 BFF's that have been in her class for the past two years.  It will be interesting to see what happens this coming year - one is moving away, and the other may or may not be in her class.  My youngest did develop a close friendship with another girl at preschool this past year, but they will no longer be in school together :(, so it will also be interesting to see what friendships she develops.

Can't wait to hear your answers!!!!

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8 comments:

Robin @ Pink Dryer Lint said...

Oh, man. These are serious questions. I'm copping out from answering because my oldest is just seven. (I'm also slightly swaying in my seat right now praying to Jesus because I know that I'll be facing them shortly.)

God will give us wisdom to know what's best for each child, I trust. My initial response is to let kids be kids as long as possible.

Anonymous said...

Here are my answers. However, my children are basically adults.... Boy, 19; Girl, 16. Some of these things were not available until they were in Middle or HS, so the decisions were maybe different. I think that they need rules based on your beliefs, and you need to consistently enforce them. I am blessed with two wonderful children, who learned to respect authority and their elders. BUT - it takes a village; their father and I can't take all of the credit.
1) Talk on the phone with friends? (just to chat for a while; no specific reason)
With texting, I am not sure this really happens any more. I don't think I was allowed to do this until highschool.
2) Have a cell phone? (Or have an iTouch type of device that allows them to Facetime, text, etc.)
My children got these in Middle School when they had activities away from home, and needed to contact us.
3) Have an email account or a Facebook page?
Mine were allowed Facebook, but on the condition that they friend me. Both in HS.
4) Have a boyfriend/girlfriend? (Not necessarily going out on dates, just referring to another as their boyfriend/girlfriend.) I think my son had one in Middle School.... my daughter in HS.
5) Stay home alone for an hour or less? (Only because my oldest has asked to do this a couple times) 12 is ok.
6) Have their own computer? (Both of my oldest have asked.)
They both saved babysitting money and bought their own in HS. They used them quite a bit for homework. They were able to save homework to a server at school and print there.
7) Develop close friendships?? I think that when you find someone who will be a close friend, it just happens. I don't believe we can stop this. Sometimes, the friendship fades away. I've seen this happen with both of my children.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

:-) I am trying to listen for God's wisdom. One of my downfalls is comparing my kids to others, including their siblings. I have to remind myself that every child (and every family) is unique and should be treated individually!

Dawn said...

I've been thinking about your questions all day. Here are my thoughts (boys are 10, 9, and 5)
1) they are more likely to text and face time. We are fine with that if they ask first. Even then, it's a small group of family and select friends that they are allowed to contact.
2) we will probably let them have cell phones for middle school - don't know what rules we will come up with beyond one - all phones will be left in the kitchen at night - no phones in the bedroom after dinner.
3)email - yes. FB - not for a while yet (and only if DH and I are both friends with full privileges and we know the password). My oldest has an email account. He knows that we are to have his passwords at all times and that we intend to check his emails at random times. He is allowed to email classmates about homework, family members, and pre-approved friends.
4) not an issue at all for us yet. Whew!!
5)I haven't tried it yet. Probably going to wait until 12
6)NO!!!! I'm totally unwilling to compromise on this one. Too much happens on personal computers. We will have family computer(s) that have to stay in central family locations. There is no private web browsing in this house!
7) close friends are a positive. They can give you someone to rely on in this crazy world - will be critical going in to middle school! I do try to foster friendships with certain types of kids though (by having them over more than others).

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thanks for your answers!!! Always interesting to hear from "experienced" parents!! ;-)

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thanks Dawn!! I feel the same about most of these and I am really trying to help foster those good "friendships", especially for my oldest!

JR said...

Why on earth would a child need to be a certain age before having close friends? I had the same best friend from the time I was 7 until I was 13. We had a bit of a falling out then, but remained friends and were roommates during all of college. I just don't understand why you would think there is an "appropriate age" for having a close friend.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

I'm not asking at what age should they be allowed to have a close friend - I'm asking at what age does this development typically occur. One of my kids has two best friends, but one of my other girls hasn't yet developed that kind of friendship with anyone. I'm just wondering if it's "normal" for some kids to find that special friend when they are a little older rather than a little younger.

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