We all know the tween years are tough.
It doesn’t matter the kind of school: public, private, homeschool.
It’s hard with the pressures from the outside and the changes on the inside.
I feel like those were the lost years. Literally.
I am just now realizing how close I came to almost losing my daughter.
She’s thirteen and half now and I see my little girl peeking through again lately. She laughs and is silly and her eyes twinkle again. She’s growing up and she’s super smart and the past is now a fading shadow.
For several years, she was buried down deep.
She had rough beginnings, torn between two households every other weekend and most holidays. Then, being uprooted and traveling where the Air Force sends us, homeschooling, three siblings, more responsibility than she should have for one so young.
I relied too heavily on her as my support. She was more to me than just a mother’s helper. I had no one else but her.
Having three babies and no family or friends, I expected her to help more than she should. She was too willing and able and I am ever grateful to her, but I wish I could have those years back for her.
She lost part of her childhood.
She did her schooling very independently for a couple years. I was busy, busy, busy with a baby and two toddlers. She liked playing computer games. I was a lazy mother with her, thinking she was fine, that she was doing well. I was so stressed and barely hanging on.
We were in survival mode.
When I asked her about some things, she fought me and dug her heels in. She became quiet and aloof. She didn’t want to eat. She was irritable. She was depressed.
Her Latin assignments weren’t completed and most lessons were done poorly. We started over but then mostly she gave up. She got “fired” from piano class for not completing the lessons or practicing. She refused to complete science experiments. She lost interest in many things she used to love.
I didn’t know what was wrong or what to do.
No one tells you that those computer parenting controls and services often don’t monitor chats or instant messaging.
(At least the service we had then did nothing to block Yahoo Messenger.)
For her protection and privacy, I won’t go into details.
Two months can cause damage that lasts years.
The ripples affected too much.
Predators are everywhere and this is why our children have no social media and we very, very closely monitor email and all online activity. Computers stay in the main rooms with screens facing out so I can see – at all times. Emails are filtered through our accounts. My husband receives every single email and can preview them. Chat and messaging are disabled.
We always said it wouldn’t happen to us. We were so diligent. We checked histories and installed parental control programs. We had Internet contracts and talked openly about dangers online.
I almost lost her.
We didn’t go to counseling. We didn’t involve our church or the FBI. We probably handled the whole thing really poorly and made it worse. But I don’t think we overreacted. We put our electronics on lockdown. Settings are restricted and long complicated passwords block the kids from making changes on their iPads. We blocked YouTube completely.
God can and will redeem those lost months. I am gradually rebuilding my relationship with my daughter. She is reemerging a lovely young lady who delights in so much like she used to. She’s healing and moving on. We all are.
I love seeing my daughter again. I missed her so much.
We’re still in a battle for her soul. Please pray.
We are very concerned about G+ communities. Just doing an innocent search of “teen” and up pops all sorts of porn communities where teens are sucked into an ugly, evil world. Too many apps have potential for misuse. And I don’t think it’s right to allow children under age 13 to have social media accounts. Who cares if their peers don’t think they’re cool?