If you have a 10-year-old, you know that she is the one teaching you how to optimize your Instagram, she knows all the shortcuts in Youtube and she is a smartphone and social media guru in the house. She is willing and eager to show you how it is done, unlike our mid to late teens, who know more but aren’t inclined to teach you. I see it clearly in my pre-teen, her need for our approval and pride in herself. We may not always be able to see the awesomeness in all that she is in awe of and we try to understand.

It is a fine line between attempting to understand and to approve of all the things my 10-year-old daughter is doing online and on devices. There have been clear lines set regarding the use of tools and what she is allowed to use online. There are obvious consequences as well. Even with all the rules, we had been butting heads about her obsession with YouTube. She would find sneaky ways to get a device and get online to YouTube.

The head-butting was getting to me, I was feeling like a bad parent, and my lovely daughter seemed unreachable. For the first time, I felt like my baby was drifting from me and it looked like there was nothing I could do. I am sure a lot of you know this feeling, it is not a punch in the gut, it is cancer that clouds nearly all our interactions with our children from the first moment we experience this feeling.

I had to remind myself of few things to ensure that precious relationship with my lovely would remain intact and gets stronger.

  • She is a whole person, and she has her will and her choice. As a Mother, I need to unconditionally accept.
  • Unconditional acceptance is not equal to Unconditional approval.
  • How I experience a feeling and how I let that feeling influence my actions is in my control.
  • In this particular example, I had to introspect about what it was about YouTube that really bothered me? Passive consumption was the answer I got.

I needed to get clear on how I can let her do her thing, yet be more critical and active in her viewing of these videos. The goal was to come up with a solution that would be agreeable to both of us without reservations.

Once I got all that clear in my head, I came up with an idea to pivot the passive watching into active critical watching and discussed it with my daughter. Here are the things we agreed to:

She could watch all the videos she wants, as long as she would make a note of the following characteristics of the videos:

  1.  The main content and topic of the video
  2. What did she like about the video and why?
  3. What did she not like about the video and why?
  4. Ideas on how it could be done better.
  5. At the end of the week, she would have to write a blog about it.

She would get to watch the videos only if she blogged about the videos she had watched. If she missed blogging, she committed to not watching.

You can find her blog here. Among her musings about the imaginary world she has created, you will notice that she has blogged about two youtube videos. Something seemed to click in her about the importance of active watching, and her YouTube time has dried up considerably. This morning, she picked up her device and started reading a book instead!

I will take this small win, especially since it comes with the side of a strong relationship with my daughter.