Children Need Boundaries

j0407085.jpgI was raised in a home with boundaries. As a child in my mother’s home, I learned what was acceptable behavior and which behaviors/actions would result in either a punishment, a whipping or both.  In so many words, Mama laid down the law, she, and Daddy, set the tone.

I was an adult before I began to appreciate and understand that those rules and regulations provided the solid foundation for my life. As a child though, I thought my parents had too many rules, where too rigid and closed minded in their ways.

The rules and regulations didn’t have assigned numerations nor were they given a level of importance. However they all worked together and this is how I remember them:

  • My sister and I were not allowed to be in the same room with adults when they were discussing adult topics. We were shooed out of the room to go play.
  • We were required to put a “handle” on adults’ names when addressing them. (i.e. Mr, Mrs, Miss, Auntie, or Uncle “Such-in-Such”)
  • We were not allowed to listen to any of Richard Pryor’s comedy albums. I remember straining to listen through the vents of the adjoining room while my parents listened and laughed to the album in the living room.
  • We were not allowed to be in our bedroom with the door closed and locked. Mama said it was her house and she was going to know what was going on in every room of it.

I also remember my mother saying “I pay the cost to be the boss“, meaning she was in charge, not me nor my sister. Or, “When you get grown in your own house, you can do whatever you please.”

These things were brought to the forefront of my mind again last night when I was at a very close friend’s house. I also thought about my blogging friend, Soul Sistah, over at Black and Blended and what would be her take on the situation.

I was at my friend’s home, L-Boogie, to restore some computer files that were lost when her stepson (17 years old) attempted to create his own user profile without knowing exactly what he was doing. The stepson also made it so that the system would prompt for a user to input a password before accessing “his” user profile. Needless to say, L-Boogie, was pissed when she told me about it. My first question was did he first ask his father for permission (he did not) and the second was why did he feel the need to “password” protect anything on the “family PC”. L-Boogie had the same questions, ironically.

The stepson also addresses me by my first name which annoys me since I didn’t shoot marbles with this youngster and I’m old enough to be his mother.

Finding the files and restoring them to their original location was a very simple process so crisis resolved.

In the process of searching for the lost files we came across some nude and partially nude photos of young girls, apparently friends of the stepson, that she was not aware existed. When she called the husband in the room to show him what we had discovered and to ask if he knew the girls, his response was so casual it was disturbing.

“Oh, that’s prolly one of those girls from Florida.” and “Oh, that Pete’s pictures”

That’s it. Nothing else.

L-Boogie expected the response to be exactly what it was even though she doesn’t agree with how it was handled. She has taken a “hands-off” approach when it comes to her stepson because of his father’s apparent oblivion state when it comes to basic parenting. “How could he ‘correct’ Pete when he has the porn flicks next to the family DVDs in the family room? Besides, he doesn’t see anything wrong with it”.

So, what do you think? Would you “knowingly” allow your 17 year old son to have nude photos of young ladies on your family PC without any admonition? Am I too old school in my thinking that a child should know his/her place?

21 thoughts on “Children Need Boundaries

  1. I too grew up in a home with boundaries. Being an only child, I didn’t have that older brother or sister to set the standards. It was all on me. Even in high school I couldn’t stay up past 11 so I never got to watch Arsenio Hall like my other friends. The only way I knew about rap music is through my friends’ older siblings. As an adult I thank my parents for those boundaries. They’ve made me into the exemplary woman I am today.:-) And to this day I still have a hard time calling the older people at work by their first names. It’s just not natural.

    As for your friend’s husband. I’ve noticed that when it comes to teenaged boys, fathers tend to have that chill approach. It’s like they expect boys to do those things so they don’t get upset about it. Now had it been his daughter whose naked picture was on some boy’s computer, I’m sure he would have had a fit. It’s just that same old double standard that’s been around forever. They need to have a discussion about how the boy should be raised while he’s in THEIR home. I realize it’s his son, but when he’s under their roof, he needs to abide by the family rules.

  2. Choc, did we grow up in the same house? LOL! I had some of the same rules in my house. There were no Richard Pryor records to listen to, so that wasn’t an issue.

    I believe that kids today are out of control because parents are not parenting. Plain and simple. They let everyone and everything else rear their children – TV, movies, music, video games, teachers, friends, other relatives. Then when something “goes wrong” they blame everyone and everything else – TV, movies, music, etc. then wonder what happened.

    But to address the issue of the 17 year old., I think he should have gotten permission to have his own personal page, but at 17, I think he should also have it. The password thing, I’m on the fence about, but as he approaches adulthood, privacy is something that he should be allotted.

    As far as the pictures of the nude girls, I think the parents of the girls have a bigger issue to attend to. Why on earth would they even take pictures like that, much less send them to someone to make available to the entire world?!

    A 17 year old boy has certain urges and his father should talk to him about these urges and the best way to handle them. But it seems that the father may have dropped the ball. I think your friend should talk to the father about talking to the son. Sex and sexual urges are nothing to be ashamed of, but it should be handled correctly.

    I think he should have some privacy, but not total and/or absolute.

  3. uh, not just no but Hell NO! I was raised like you and Carla and I am continuing that way on to my children as well. My oldest son has a girlfriend and he calls her mother by “Ms. Smith” the mother has issue w/this and insists that he call her by her first name, he just can’t bring himself to do it:) Also, my husband and I have made it very clear to our boys and daugher that that type of nonsense will not be tolerated….naked pictures, disrespect etc…etc…etc…kids should know their place and it’s the parents fault for not showing them that place.

  4. The issue I have, as well as my friend, isn’t that he’s a teenage boy with the “urges”, that’s normal and to be expected. It’s the message the father is sending the son about the appropriateness of his behavior. Not asking for permission to create his own user profile AND the nude photos of the girls.

    I agree with Carla there is that double standard cause if it was his daughter he would be devesatated.

    My friend, to her credit, has been the main displinarian in that house since the stepson came to live with them about 4 yrs ago. But she’s been consistantly met with resistance from the husband. Resistance such as him telling her she is making too big a deal of a situation or his failure to “reinforce” what she has instructed the son to do. So now she has taken her “hands off” approach. There are other “challenges” which contribute to her current stance which are equally frustrating but this one really had me scratching my dayum head.

  5. Your friend and her husband should have laid down the rules for the son 4 years ago when he was a 13 year old. Now at 17 it’s going to be hard to tell him he shouldn’t be doing things he’s done all along. It’s sad to say but it may be a lost cause. He’s about to turn 18 and become a “man.” I think their time has run out.

  6. The running joke between my and my friend is that the “For Sale” sign will be up in the yard the day of graduation cause she’s O-U-T! Other “challenges”…..

  7. Our mothers must be sisters! LOL, if I had a nickel for every time I heard some of those sayings.

    As far as the step-son and the father I think they are both out of order. He is enabling his son and his son is being disrespectful by looking at porn on the FAMILY computer. Privacy – what privacy? My rule was always “This is not a democracy but a dictatorship” and as long as you reside here let me be clear “These should be no expectation of privacy”. I don’t believe children have a right to privacy in your home…they are children/teenagers with poor judgment, that’s why they have parents! We need to know what our kids are doing, especially online. If he downloads child porn to their computer – then what? Two of my kids are officially grown but I still visit their Myspace page….lol..because they are still young and naive.

  8. OMG! I would have blown my top! My children are closely supervised when using the family computer. It is either for school work, or corrosponding with FAMILY members by e mail only. There is no chatting, myspace, IM-ing, NADA! Just recently there was the little girl in Arkansas who was driven to suicide by being allowed to chat and IM with out the parents closely keeping an eye on the situation. I understand your friends reluctance to discipline her step son, but at least when it comes to you she should put her foot down and ask him to properly address you as a respected friend of the family!

  9. @ Soul Sistah…I AGREE! I AGREE! I AGREE!! I didn’t know what “privacy” was until I moved out of my mother’s home and that was at age 22!! Are you kidding me? LOL Aside from closing the door to dress and undress and shower, etc., there were no closed, locked doors in my mom’s house! Thanks for giving me your input. It’s good to hear from someone with first hand experience of a blended family! 🙂

    @ BlondFabulous…we’re on the same page. I don’t know how parents these days manage to stay on top of all the things children can get into. When I was coming up there wasn’t the internet.

    The son caught me off guard Saturday, because I don’t ever remember him addressing me “directly” or at least never by name. It was me addressing him…”hey dahlin’ how you doing” but that night, L-Boogie and I were in the computer room when he arrived home and he walked by the door and said “What’s up Chocl8t”. Huh? My friend did put him in check by saying I wasn’t on of his “lil” girlfriends and he cleaned up the greeating but still didn’t add a handle.

  10. I totally forgot about the blended family thing – I was off on the tangent about PRIVACY for kids…please. If the husband does not put his fut down, then your friend should, after all she is the other parent in the house. If dude won’t stop looking at porn, he simply forfeits his rights to computer usage. It would be better if the two grown folks could confront the son as a united front with dad leading the charge…..but sometimes you have to step up and be the parent yourself when men folk won’t. Perhaps she could address it as a respect issue.

    I had the same problem. I ended up putting spyware on the computer to catch my little porn freak, then I put a password on the bios and it was all over for his peep shows….lol.

  11. When young folk address me by my first name, I correct them myself. “Oh honey, you can call me Ms. AJ.” I blame the parents for this, this is manners 101.

  12. SMH.

    i don’t understand. I had the same rules you had and my mom was a 19 year old welfare mom.

    naked girls on the computer. No handle on adults names. Sheesh.

    My momma had (has) a saying: My door is always open whether you are coming in or going out.

    Believe me for stunts like that she would have put my black ass out the house wihtout a second thought.

  13. JJ, thanks for stopping by. Your mom probably also had that strong foundation and that how she knew to pass it on to you as well.

    With the situation told above, I lay blame at the father’s feet primarily because he refuses to back up and support any rules or discipline set forth by the stepmom. She’s tired of going against the grain and the son “worships” his father…if his father didn’t say it, it doesn’t me squat to him. Sad indeed!

  14. ok Black daddy coming through.

    Ok it’s a different world than when we all grew up. So stop comparing todays kids to us.

    when we were kids, our siblings and our dads, had porn stashed somewhere in the house, and if you think your house was exempt, you’re smoking tampons homey.

    Now kids have the internet. a doorway to shenanigans and debauchery. But MAYBE, if you spent a lil extra time being a good parent, you would worry a lil less about what your children are doing on the net. But better believe, they are doing some ignant shyt. That’s what Teenagers do! Either it’s going to be on the internet, or in the streets. Ignance and teenagers go hand in hand.

    Just give their azz acceptable boundaries. Quit letting them have computer’s in their “locled” bedrooms. I wish I WOULD have locked my door in julia and staffords house.

    Your kids want to be on the net, fine, but its going to be ona computer, in the family room, and aint nan passwords going on ish.

    Aint no privacy or rights given! You get privacy and rights when you own your OWN house. But if your kids wanan hide some ish from you they can and will. Shit, if they were smart they would buy their own password protected usb drives and work off them things.

    Problem today is you’ve got too many punk ass parents that expect the world to parent for them. The world aint designed to make your child a good person. That’s your job. and its a 24-7 job.

    .. matter of fact.. yall should sucka puinch your kids every tuesday @4pm. just cause.

    Both my wife and I are both IT proffessionals.. so i aint nan worried about my sons evah thinking they got one up on me in the tech area.

    -Slaus

  15. Okay, now that I’ve composed myself and cleaned my PC monitor…

    Slaus, thanks for interjecting a male perspective. I agree teenagers and stupidity are synonomous, it’s a fargone conclusion. My mom used to tell me, but primarily my “wild child” sister, there wasn’t a game we could try to run on her that she didn’t invent. She threw many a monkey wrenches in a girl’s programs!!

    I agree with everything you’ve stated.

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