Sunday, October 23, 2005

Parenting by MSN Messenger

I spent the day with my daughter and her family on Saturday. Well, I should say part of the day. The part of the day we spent at my daughter's mom's house, my daughter spend in her room. Not exactly the picture of family togetherness.

It's getting harder and harder to have much quality time, even though I'm now living closer and getting to spend more frequent time with her.

I got copies of her new school pictures, which is great. Unfortunately, picture day was about a week before she got her braces off. And she's had her hair highlighted, so she already looks different than her freshman year photo.

It was a nice day. The family took me out to lunch and made me dinner for my birthday, which was nice. And I got to see my new niece for a little while and her big sister, so that was nice too, even though I missed my older niece's soccer game. So I'm going to try to go up and see her last game of the season next week.

The rest of the day we spent just doing ordinary family stuff. I help my daughter's mom and her partner build the computer desk we bought back in the spring and which has been sitting in its box for months.

When I got back home a little while ago I logged on to find my daughter, where she was when I left, online and sitting at the computer. MSN Messenger allows you to add a personal quote to your screen name. My daughter changes hers quite often. She had a new one tonight. It reads:

"Put on a cool '70s groove, a funky groove to fuck to."

My daughter is 14.

I was not amused. So I asked her about it.

Apparently she was amused, because she answered me back with an "lol".

She informed me the quote was from a Tenacious D song. I, being tragically unhip, do not have any Tenacious D in my musical library.

I told her I didn't think it was funny and I think it may give guys some bad ideas.

There was no response.

I told her I just wanted to let her know I made it home (not that she was losing any sleep about it). "And please consider changing the quote."

No response.

So I said I loved her and I would talk to later.

Still no response.

So I said goodbye and waited.

Still no response.

So I logged off.

I keep in contact with some friends and family by IM programs. But it feels pretty damn inadequate to try to be a parent over MSN Messenger.

Oh, and in case your curious, the Tenacious D song is apparently called "Double Team", and yea it's pretty much about what the title would lead you to think.

Look, I'm far from a prude. But I am scared shitless about my daughter trying to be "cool" and ending up doing something she's not ready for with a boy, or boys. Lord knows, I will probably never be ready for her to have an active sex life, but 14 is much too young. And not that listening to songs about sex means she's doing any such thing. Lord knows at 14 I was probably saying things and listening to things that would have shocked my parents. But I just don't know how to do this. I don't know how to be a parent of a teenage daugher. I don't know if it's appropriate to try to act like a parent when I have been not much more than a sperm donor and a periodic visitor for her entire short life.

But I didn't move back here just to share sunny days at the park with her. I came back to be here for her, in good times and bad. Does that mean I'm merely a silent observer and walking ATM machine?

I don't know.

So, all you parents out there, what should I have done? And what should I do?


Miki said...

You did the right thing, you let her know that it wasn't appropriate to have that particular quote out where the world can see. If you let them know what is expected of them, and what you won't accept, most kids usually tow the preverbial line. I am sure that my 12 almost 13 boy says and does things that I don't find appropriate, but I am also sure that when I find these things out, he would be embarrrased, not b/c he got caught,although that would be a small part, but embarrassed because he disapointed me. I think though, you should talk to your daughter's Mom and let her know how you feel. Let her know that this was shocking and upsetting. Have her help you handle this, it may go smoother if the "live in" parent helps you handle it. I wouldn't make a huge deal out of it, then it WON'T just fade away, but I would definately put my foot down, say what I have to say and be done. Kids do appreciate boundaries and they do appreciat rules, then they know what to expect when they break them.

3rdtimesacharm( 3T ) said...

Miki is right. You need to talk to your daughter's mom G-Man. Let her know what she had on her MSN. Your daughter doesn't even begin to know the dangers. At least see if you can set up an opportunity to talk about the dangers that exist out in chat land. Pedophiles LOOK for young innocent girls who put things out there like this. It would be good if you can set up an opportunity to talk with your daughter and her mom about the dangers. Being informed is important in this day and age. Just a song or no, it IS still dangerous. I used to have a web site address that named and showed pedophiles making plays for young girls on Chat.(Named them, showed their screen names, and picture if they were busted as sex offenders) If you approach this, in person, taking the "you need to know what you're dealing, or possibly dealing with"....she MIGHT not shut down on you.
I agree that you did the right thing, speaking up when you did. She knows how you feel, and now it may be time to talk about the dangers. (Just an idea)

The G-man said...

Miki and 3T,
Thanks for the advice. It is much appreciated. Not long ago I discovered my daughter's blog site and found some things there that were very distressing, related to drinking in particular. I did bring that up to my daughter's mom. It was reassuring to know that she was well aware of the site. My daughter and her mom are very close and that is something I'm very happy about, and sometimes even a little jealous of. All things considered I feel fortunate to have any relationship at all with my daughter, but still it's not enough. And I do very much worry about her safety. It's that one a a parent's primary duties, to keep their children safe?

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