So we bought a house! Ok technically my dad bought it and were renting it from him until we can get our credit good enough to buy it from him. That is one humongous worry off our shoulders.
It’s a good thing too because it seems lately every time one burden is lifted, another takes its place. This time it was Emily, my younger stepdaughter. We recently had an ordeal to go through with her lying to us about seeing her boyfriend. Some people seem to feel as though teenagers should have unrestricted privacy to social media and the like. I am not one of those people. Neither is Shane. In fact the children we allow on social media are made aware of the fact that not only will we retain their passwords in our keeping, but we will randomly do spot checks to make sure they’re on the up and up.
Turns out Emily wasn’t.
A few weeks prior to this most recent incident we’d learned that while on an outing for the weekend with her friends, Emily met up with her boyfriend. They were at the lake and no one, not even the parents involved, bothered to tell us. Shane felt extremely misled and he had a conversation with Emily and her boyfriend about trust and honesty and he made a rule that if they were making plans to meet up or even if they accidentally met, to let him know. Even if it was after the fact.
Fast forward two weeks. Again Emily is with her friends. She meets up with her boyfriend at the church. I knew this because I saw it in the text log, about five minutes before she deleted the entire thread, during one of my random spot checks. Shane says nothing. He asks in our group chat how things are going. She says fine, but doesn’t mention meeting with her boyfriend. When she gets home the next day, he again asks how her visit went. Still no mention of the boyfriend. Then he asks her if she had anything to confess before he started asking questions. She said she had nothing to confess. Then he point blank asks her when was the last time she saw her boyfriend. She looks him in the eye and tells him that it was about a week ago when we sent her to fetch boxes.
That was four times to confess if you were counting. Not only did she not confess but she blatantly lied to his face.
Shane made good on the threat he made when he spoke with them before and he had her call and break off the relationship. (I know some people will say you can’t make teens break up but really it helps when you’re moving 80 miles away…)
Afterwards, Facebook exploded. Her now ex boyfriend started blasting shag be on Facebook, calling him controlling, oppressive, and stating that no matter what Shane said, he was going to continue seeing Emily. Her friends joined in, sympathizing with her, about how all this was over a poster and how Shane severely overreacted.
Oh did I forget to mention that? Yeah the reason she didn’t mention seeing her boyfriend wasn’t because she met him to have sex (that little revelation was discovered later), but was because he met her for five minutes to give her a poster. Yet that short innocuous meeting was worthy of a lie?
So here we were on Facebook getting blasted by a bunch of teens. Emily’s devices were all confiscated by this point, but Shane posted a defense on his wall. He stated that in his house, he had two rules: don’t lie and don’t hide things. Both rules had been broken. The teens jumped all over that thread with their attacks stating how Emily was 17 and ought to be allowed to do what she felt like (because letting hormonal teenagers run rampant is always indicative of good parenting you see). The worst part was even some of the parents jumped in stating essentially the same thing – that when a teen is out of your house for the weekend you can’t control what they do. While of course you can’t control their actions these parents were condemning the consequences Emily faced as a result of her choices. That’s right… Parents were blasting another parent for daring to discipline a disobedient child. Amazing huh?
The thread turned very ugly very fast and was eventually deleted, though not before I was able to get a few words in about how immature and disrespectful all of the teenagers were behaving (and I did eventually get a private apology from the ex boyfriend but by then it was too late). Even my sister reprimanded their behavior and it’s not often we agree on anything!
We finally had to have Emily call her friends and tell them to stop what they were doing because even the next day they were stirring up trouble, trying to paint us in an absolutely horrible light. They said neither Shane nor I were working and how awful that must be in today’s society for all our kids. (And it’s not even accurate – Shane is on disability now for his back injuries and I am actively seeking employment and it’s only a matter of time.) They were even talking about trying to come by and talk to Emily when all of our cars were gone because of course that must mean we were not there. Nevermind that we have one car that won’t fit everyone in it. Nevermind also that if we were going to trust Emily home alone after what happened we’d be absolute idiots.
They finally did stop though and I think the drama has finally subsided even though it took a few days. What amazes me is that her friends, and our landlord, knew she’d been having sex and no one bothered to tell us. Granted I’d had my suspicions practically from the beginning when her attitude started changing but Shane needed proof, and while I knew “something” was going on, I wasn’t sure what. It just amazes me the entire situation. Everyone thinking they knew better than her father how to best handle the situation, everyone withholding critical information, and just the general prevailing attitude of disrespect and entitlement. It was ridiculous.
I have to say, though, Emily’s attitude has improved dramatically since she lost her devices. I’m entirely convinced it was the overexposure to social media. She had gotten secretive, withdrawn, angry all the time at her siblings, over the smallest things. She acted as though everything was an inconvenience to her life, and how dare my five year old ignore her commands, for example. She started slacking off horrendously on her chores, doing the worst job of all the older children when before she’d done the best job. She was reclusive and always stayed on her devices on her room. She started up at night talking to her boyfriend and then treating everyone like garbage the next day when she was tired. Her priorities were severely out of whack.
In her case her addiction was social media. For others it’s tv. For still others it’s games. Electronics can be an amazing blessing. But I will never about the premise that any child, even a teenager, should have unlimited time or access to their device. It’s too easy to fall into vices. It’s too easy to abandon everything that’s important when your young and still learning. It took ME until my late twenties to fully appreciate the responsibilities I had, and I was extremely responsible to begin with. Even I became addicted to video games.
When it changes your personality, it’s a problem. When you start treating people you love like crap because of it, it’s a problem. When you forsake anything else in your life that you used to enjoy for it, it’s a problem. If it’s a problem you need to remove it from your life. Sometimes it’s electronics. Sometimes it’s social media. Sometimes it’s a person. Sometimes it’s all of the above.
Life goes much smoother when the house is harmonious and that only happens when all things (except God!) are taken in moderation. At least that’s been my experience.