I’m a “Creeper Mom,” monitoring what my kids do online. It doesn’t matter what age, gender, or how popular they are. My job is to be gatekeeper of their souls, teaching them values for a lifetime that hopefully they’ll choose someday.
When the day came to battle Lil’ Wayne, I was ready.
It started when I got on the family computer and saw the “explicit” icon beside some iTunes songs purchased by Teen Boy. I trusted Teen Boy, but as Gatekeeper, I had to know what he was putting into his mind and heart.
I Googled the song title, read the lyrics, and was sick to my stomach.
At the time, I worked as a service provider for victims of domestic violence. My workday consisted of listening to unspeakable behavior towards women. The lyrics brought pictures of real women to my mind and the men who disrespected them.
These weren’t values we practiced in our home.
I knew a confrontation was in store when Teen Boy got home. I’d been through scenes like this before, times of setting boundaries that would be pushed against.
The predicted words flew.
“You don’t trust me.”
“I’m seventeen! You don’t need to monitor my music!”
“You’re the only mom who makes a big deal out of stuff like this!”
“I hate you” was somewhere in the mix.
He stormed off. I was exhausted and wind-whipped. Parenting is hard work.
Over the next few days, Lil’ Wayne songs disappeared and Teen Boy spent lots of time on the computer. New songs appeared. Creeper Mom checked the artists and lyrics, finding them acceptable and legit. He found other rap artists whose messages were life-giving, not life-taking.
Values won, Lil’Wayne lost.
It was one of the last battles I fought for that boy’s soul. Since then, he’s written essays about the influence of music, and how one artist, LeCrea, has positively impacted his life. Realizing how important music has been in Teen Boy’s life, I’ve realized some battles are worth fighting. So here are the lessons I learned battling Lil’ Wayne.
- What fills our teen’s minds also fills their hearts. The messages they get from music, social media, movies and video games influence them. We lie to ourselves and to them if we believe different.
- The behavior you challenge should be worth fighting over. I don’t confront my teens that often, but when I do, it’s a big deal. I’ve learned to choose my battles because they can get heated.
- If you’re setting a boundary worth fighting over, be consistent and follow through. When teens know you mean business, they are more likely to respect boundaries.
- Being a Creeper Mom is essential while raising tweens and teens in the twenty-first century. Vulgar, sex-saturated media is fused into our child’s experience. Knowing what, who, and where our kids are finding and receiving information is essential for their well-being.
- You need thick skin while you parent teens. I’ve had my share of “You’re the only mom who…” and “I hate you’s.” Holding kids accountable for inappropriate behavior is rarely met with a “Gee, mom, thanks. I never thought of that.” You have to be strong in the moment even when it hurts.
- Rules without relationship fosters rebellion. Try to keep your do’s and don’ts to a minimum. When kids feel you trust them with freedoms, they’re more likely to respect your boundaries when you have to enforce strict guidelines.
- When you walk the talk, it impacts your child. Teens hate hypocrisy. Even if they push against your values, when they see you live the standards you’re setting for them, they’re more likely to comply.
- If your gut says something’s wrong with your teen’s behavior, it probably is. If you sense something’s wrong on the surface of your teen’s conduct, there’s a good chance there’s more underneath.
- Give your teen opportunities to be trustworthy. I wanted to say all rap music was forbidden because I don’t care for it. Allowing Teen Boy to find inoffensive music within that genre positively impacted him.
- Some things are worth fighting over. Violence and disrespect towards women is a non-negotiable in our house. Honestly, it would have been easy to overlook a few songs. Confronting a six-foot-three jock was not my idea of a fun evening. But even at seventeen, I’m still the gatekeeper of my child’s soul. It was worth it.
What things are tempting you to overlook the lifestyle of your teen? Where do you need courage to confront your child? How can we help each other to stand up for values that not only impact our kids, but future generations?