Earlier this week there was an incident affecting my just-10-yo son and his nearly-10-yo friend. The friend was sent home from youth club for pretending to "bumrape" (term used by my son to explain what had happened) another male friend of the same age. We are very open and answer any question that is asked, (he is fully aware of sex, contraception etc as he asked questions when he did puberty at school) so have had the conversation about what he thinks it's means/ what it is etc, which he seems to have taken in his stride. I'm struggling with the fact that we still read to him at night, he cuddles up with his teddy bear etc, yet is exposed to information that he's (in my opinion) too young to have to deal with. His friend is allowed to watch things like SouthPark, and Mrs Brown's boys, though when you speak to Mum he's not allowed to swear! I am fully aware that my son probably engages in conversations and uses language when we're not there, that we wouldn't consider appropriate, but I am SO angry that he's being exposed to such adult things. Our son is very open and tells us things, which I don't want to jeopardise, so try not to judge his friends and talk about was is acceptable within families differs, what we consider unacceptable and why.
I know the obvious answer is to curtail this friendship and encourage others, however, his school peer group is very small, so all the boys are all friends with each other, and there doesn't seem to be much to choose between the lot of them!! I have had conversations with parents from this group who think swearing is acceptable, who don't monitor internet use. Boys who have asked my why they can't access the internet in our house because they want to look at images of female popstars in bikini's etc. All his peer group play on an ipod game where they can message. We are the only parents who check the content of the messages. All of the others either use extremely explicit language and / or talk about the fact that they would like (named) female peers "to sit on them and go up and down" and "lick them". It has been a difficult year for them all with lots of falling out and changes in close friendships. The friend mentioned has become my son's best friend since Christmas following bust ups with other boys that my son has distanced himself from by creating this new friend, whom he adores, and who seemed to be the best of the bunch. During this time my son has matured, he's chattier with adults and confident. He has however,also become quite anxious about becoming independent "what happens if I come home and you've all left etc".
I desperately want to keep lines of communication open, but I'm struggling with the fact that although I'm friendly with the friend's mum (to enable me to monitor what is going on) we parent very differently.
My emotional instinct is to stop them playing together, which I know I can't realistically do. I also feel that whoever he chooses to be friends with the situation will be the same. My reasoned instinct is that I need to encourage the friend to spend more time at our house (rather than them both going to the park) and to join in with our family so I can monitor what's happening and tell him when he's not being appropriate. BUT, I'm not sure whether this will be seen as an acceptance of what is going on, and the friend's behaviour. I am also aware that our 6 yo son will potentially become exposed.
My son is in cubs which none of his school friends are in, though he won't socialise with other cubs out of meeting / camp time. It has been a struggle to keep him cubs as his friends tell him it's not cool. Although we made him stay for the last 2 terms (he could only go to youth club if he stayed at cubs) he doesn't really want to go and I fear that forcing him to go will end up doing more harm than good. Most of his school friends will go to the same secondary school as him.
Can I stop my son's exposure to things or just make sure I'm aware of it and talk to him ? Not sure what to do for the best. I feel like packing up the tent and finding a field to spend the summer holidays in Help!!
I don't think you can or should dictate who he plays with at this age. He is just coming to that age when they become aware of sex and some children do sooner than others. I have also struggled with this but a point will come when you simply won't be able to monitor everything in the same way. Just carry on with the normal, stable home environment and he will not be led far astray. Keep communication open and make sure you challenge any comments about girls that aren't nice so he sees them as people. It is not an easy transition for us or them.
I think you are quite normal to worry and to monitor internet use. We have teenage daughters and i worry myself sick with the need to keep them safe but at the same time not wanting to wall them up at home like rapunzel.
Kids growing up, learning about adult things (not just sex but also money, respect, lifestyle choices, independence, responsibility to themselves and to others) is a minefield to navigate as a parent. It is a tightrope to walk, balancing between being firm on some things and leniant on others.
Personally i dont think there are any magic answers to your dilemma. But if you love your boys, can talk openly snd honestly with them and most importantly have earned their respect from a young age you wont go far wrong.
I dont think you can, or need, to change his friendship group. You cant stop them from growing up. The friend who was sent home from youth club for the 'bumrape' incident has been dealt with appropriately by the youth club, he has been delivered a message, as have his peers, that this sort of behaviour is unacceptable. I would leave it at that.
You will shortly have the spectre of facebook looming up on you, followed closely by twitter and skype. You cant stop it, its like trying to single handedly shore up the hoover dam. Just a tip, we have allowed our girls to have these priveliges, on the understanding that that is what they are - priveliges. We hold the passwords (they have to ask to be logged on) and we can remove or delete their accounts if they misuse or abuse them, or if their or their friends posts are, in our opinion, inappropriate. It works for us.
Ive often heard said that the hardest part of being a parent is letting them go, and as our girls get older i am fearing that is very very true. Hold onto your resolve and your love for your kids, it will see you through a bumpy ride.
FWIW you seem to be doing a brilliant job communicating with your ds. You seem to have a wonderful relationship and I think you deserve a big pat on the back. Communicating with him and explaining about the dangers of the world around him is all you can do to keep him safe and it seems you are doing a fab job so far.
thank you for the vote of confidence-I keep reading it as a mantra I did pack up the tent and find a field for a week!! Now dealing with conversations about sex dolls and playing Halo with said friend... will breathe deeply and follow everyones advice and we'll have a big chat tonight before school starts tomorrow.
I'm afraid you can't stop this. It is all normal these days as there is so much exposure in the media of sex stuff. I think the best thing to do is just discuss what is appropriate behaviour with him., I.e., Internet dangers etc. you will never stop him being exposed to this stuff. It is a question of educating him about it as it arises. Loads of kids play on Halo. You can get Halo toys in Tesco which are aimed at very young children. Best to let it go with the flow IMO than remove him from social situations as this will make him isolated and stand out.