“Don’t tell Daddy” and other things I am deleting from my vocabulary

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I’m concerned about pedophiles. I’m also concerned about my daughter growing up with the internet, and everything that’s on there. How on earth do I even start to go about managing it?

I asked this question of my aunty recently. She has 2 teenage kids who have reached the milestone of “being allowed on Facebook”. This is a milestone that just didn’t exist when we were growing up so how are we supposed to know how to manage it? It’s not just Facebook, it’s The Internet as a whole – all their school research is done online, they use laptops in school, they have smartphones…how does she go about even trying to police what, and who, they are being exposed to?

Her answer is to have a complete honesty policy within their family. They can ask her anything, anything at all. They can also tell her anything they like, they are encouraged to hide nothing, ever. Sounds like a good solution right? But if you think about it – you, as the parent, need to do it 100% of the time too, or it doesn’t work. She has to answer everything they ask, honestly, dismiss nothing “for another time” and never be seen to hide anything either. She has to live by her own example. A house with no secrets, ever.

It’s harder than you think, as even the slightest contradictory message gives the signal that it’s OK – sometimes, just sometimes – to hide things and keep secrets. How does a 3 year old know the difference between one person she loves and trusts saying “don’t tell Mummy” [we went to McDonalds for dinner] and another person she may also love and trust saying “don’t tell Mummy” for a much more sinister reason?

So that’s it. I can see no other way to try to protect her from that scary scary world out there than to live by my own example, for the sake of my daughter. She’s 4 months old now and I’m starting today, because if I don’t start now then when do I start? When she can talk? How can I truly know how much she’s already taken in by then?

From now on we have no more secrets in our house either. She will be encouraged never ever to keep any secret from Mummy or Daddy, no matter who has asked her not to tell.

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