“Charity I need your advice” I had just walked into my friend’s office when she greeted me with those words. I could tell there was something on her mind. “Sure, what’s up?” I asked and she proceeded to tell me this true story, which left me in a state of shock and amusement.
My friend has a very well behaved, smart and curious 8-year-old daughter with an incredible thirst for knowledge, who I will call Anna. Anna enjoys reading – newspapers, books (real bookworm) and doesn’t shy away from seeking clarification from her parents about words or phrases she reads that she doesn’t quite understand. While her parents try to answer her questions as best as they can and in line with what is appropriate for her age, there are times they ask her to check Google for any further clarification she may seek. One day Anna gets back from school and asks her mum for the meaning of the word “f**k”. Naturally my friend was taken aback but decided to play dumb and asked her whether she was referring to the implement that was used for eating (lol). Anna said no, that she had heard the word from two of her classmates in school and they told her it was a bad word. At this stage my friend went ahead to explain to Anna that “f**k” was a bad word for sex and wasn’t a word she should use. Let me add that previously Anna and her parents had had the sex talk because of the litany of questions they had been bombarded with. As far as my friend was concerned, she felt they had answered Anna satisfactorily and that was it.
One day Anna is doing some work on the laptop. Her mum checks and sees it’s her school assignment and leaves her to continue with it. After a while she decides to check on Anna again only to discover that she was on another computer in the house doing something else. She goes to check what she was doing and sees it was open to a porn site. At this stage my friend said she totally lost it. In between shouting and spanking, she kept asking Anna “what are you doing? How did you get to this site?” Finally she calmed down but she says a million things were running though her mind – How long had this been going on? where had she failed as a mother? How should she handle this?… Finally when things were a bit calm, Anna explained – “Mummy, remember the day I asked you for the meaning of “f**k”? When you finished explaining I didn’t quite understand it and since sometimes you ask me to Google things, I checked the word “f**k”on the internet and this is one of the sites that came up.”
Parents, let’s talk. Our children are very intelligent and inquisitive. When we don’t answer their questions satisfactorily, they will keep searching for answers and there is so much information – good, bad and ugly, available to them at the click of a button.
How can we ensure that we satisfactorily answer our children’s questions? If you found yourself in a similar circumstance, how would you respond? How do we monitor what sites pop up when our children are online? For the answer to these and many more questions, subscribe to our blog www.parentinvestment.com.
10 thoughts on “Are Your Answers Satisfactory?”
Strictly based on the facts shared, I believe the parent has gotten one of the fundamentals of successful parenting right. And that’s establishing an environment for free communication between the child and parent. Anna came to mum first to ask about the puzzling word showing she is free with and could ‘trust’ her mum (she already knew the word did not mean a feeding implement). The fact that she went further to satisfy her inquisitive mind and happened on an unsavory discovery is just consequential and the lessons learnt can be managed by the internet settings, access to computing resources and other things that have been suggested. The fact in today’s world is simply that if you do not prepare your child for the outside world they will be consumed and confused by what is out there. We must create and maintain that atmosphere of openness, mutual trust and respect (even for a 9 year old !). That increases the chances of the parent hearing the issues first hand and guiding them though the right decision and reactive process. This should also include the knowledge that mum or dad will appropriately handle issues even when we discover they have done something wrong ! The bible encourages us to teach the child the right things and ways so that they will not depart from it when they grow up (quite quickly too) and head off to boarding school and college (Abi you will go with them there too ??). God help us.
True talk Deji. One thing is clear we must be ready to answer their questions as honestly as we can. As parents, we also need to educate ourselves on internet safety. Beyond stumbling on unsavory information, there is also the issue of how much information is too much information on social media. I would be doing a follow-up on this issue very soon. Thanks for your comments.
This presents an interesting dilemma to naturally conservative parents who encourage their children to be intellectually curious. Typical of most Nigerian aspirational parents. However, the key is to set privacy settings on your internet service to prohibit access to sites with certain content which would be inappropriate for children. Where intellectual curiosity is encouraged, then parents should also seek to address the issues raised by their children openly and transparently. Otherwise they will be misinformed either online or by their peers or some other individual who you may not approve of. We all have quite a lot to learn.
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This is a serious problem. You are torn between supervising your child and allowing them become comfortable with the computer so that they are able to do their assignments. It however becomes boring and a chore watching every click on the system(maybe because I am not the most patient of people 😕)
I have a 12-year-old who can navigate well and I am worried. I also have a 9-year-old whose lesson teacher wants him to do his own research on assignments given so that they can do corrections together in class( the answers aren’t always in the dictionary or first aid in English!).
I was introduced to K9 but I kept forgetting the password and out of frustration and the inconvenience to me I opened permanently
I feel you. Seriously parenting is a full time job. Thankfully there are apps to help with some of these things. I would be doing another post so on that soon.
The bigger question here is more about Internet safety’s not this day and age .
This has to be monitored by the parent , it’s a good job the mother checked on the daughter
The mother was quite correct in having the conversation with her daughter when asked this is actually the first step of safety however it is also important in explaining in child appropriate language (the child said she did not understand ).A precocious child we should expect to be curious remember that if she went on line to check further information about a topic in school we would be applauding her .
In general before we chastise our children we should calm down and take a step back listen then make a decision – it is understandable in a state of shock we may do things but smacking a child when the child does not understand is not the child’s fault
Some of the things we advice parents to do to prevent access to porn content online are :
Setting search engines for example Google to “safe” mode.
controls – there is soft ware available where you can set times , and apply age restrictions .
Don’t use let children use you tube as a source of information .
In my profession I have also found practical things like advising parents to have a lap top of computer in a public place for example living room .
Being vigilant -Also to look at the history of your children’s phone and Internet is important .
Absolutely Joy. Internet safety is key and something we need to take very seriously. We would have another post on internet safety very soon your expertise in this area would be very much appreciated. Thanks
I will be most happy to contribute if needed : )
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We live in an ever changing world where technology has taken over and seems to be influencing society especially the family unit. My take on this is for the mother to draw her daughter closer and mentor her through this. Being blessed with a smart girl, her brain will constantly be in search of information which will comprise both ‘good’ and ‘bad’. The greatest mistake would be to leave technology to teach Anna what to do. As parents, we need to constantly have conversations of this nature with our children. The old-fashioned approach of keeping silent and secretly wishing our children make wise decisions must be aborted. This is one of the major contributing factors to social vices in our societies. We must also take it upon ourselves to get acquainted with the changes in technology as our ignorance as parents will cost us because we may be misled. I believe parents should be familiar with certain gadgets, the internet, software applications etc. We must be able to put parental control blocks on the Internet, satellite TV etc. I believe Anna is a bright and beautiful young girl on the verge of really making a significant impact in her generation; All she needs is a loving mother to guide her aright.
I particularly like what you said “The old-fashioned approach of keeping silent and secretly wishing our children make wise decisions must be aborted” . We need to discuss issues no matter how uncomfortable it may be for us.