I didn’t even think twice about my 8-year-old daughter reading the Twilight series until I made a post-holiday stop at the bookstore.
“Do you have anything similar to like Harry Potter, Sisters Grimm, or um, Twilight, with better writing?” I chuckled while asking the young woman working in the kids’ section.
“That’s not something I hear from parents with little kids,” she replied. “That’s mostly a teen book!”
I wrinkled my eyebrows at her, though I wasn’t that surprised. Ever since my daughter started reading it and I told a few people, I’ve gotten similar reactions.
That’s not the first time someone has questioned my parenting choices for my 8-year-old.
“Well, it’s actually pretty low-key,” I replied. And really, it is. I mean, Bella and Edward don’t even have sex until the fourth book and even then, it’s not anything to write home about. Well, at least it wasn’t in the movie, anyway.
And considering the violence and scary stuff in Harry Potter, which she loved, a family of friendly vampires and a young couple in love is like child’s play.
But that’s not the first time someone has questioned my parenting choices for my 8-year-old. Just a few weeks ago, we left her with an iPod Touch so she could text us while we were away overnight, a first time for us.
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After my daughter's tearful phone call about us leaving her with my mother-in-law, I figured I could easily set her (and us) at ease by letting her text us. And it worked well. Then when I returned to find her begging me for apps, I took the iPod back, reserving it for special occasions, but not before we endured a night full of criticism from people at the holiday party we were attending.
“You let her text? How old is she?” They made it sound as if I were committing some terrible parenting sin—this coming from parents with tiny kids, by the way. I could just hear the silent “I’d never do that!” emanating from the look on their faces.
With four kids, you can bet I’ve endured all sorts of parenting judgments over the years, and yes, I’ve even dished out a few of my own. And it’s easy to do, mind you, when your kids aren’t actually going through what you’re judging. We can look at the mom of a near-tween reading a seemingly adult book and wag our fingers when our kids are still in diapers and can barely talk, let alone read.
But when you’re the one with the tween or teen or the very mature 8-year-old, then you realize that it’s a little different when you’re in the trenches.
As many times as I have said, “I’d never do that!” through my own facial expressions and even out loud, it’s because there’s no earthly way to predict how your toddler is going to be when she gets older.
And whereas before you were parenting in “what-ifs,” you have to begin parenting in the “right now,” which is much more challenging, even heart-wrenching. Just imagine the moment you realize that everything you thought you would never do because it seemed so outrageous and ridiculous is actually what you should do. Talk about completely and utterly mind-blowing.
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