“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.