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Myspace ... not just for teens anymore

By Robin Dearing
Today I’m going to write about something that normally falls into Lynn’s realm — raising a teenager. When I married my husband almost 7 years ago, I became a stepmother to a then 9-year-old boy … now a 15-year-old (almost 16) manboy. A while back, my band started a myspace page to network with other bands and for promotional use. We linked our page to other bands' and to people that were interested in keeping track of our band. A couple of months ago I learned that Sean had his own myspace page. I didn’t think much of it. I knew that a lot of kids had pages and used them to chat with their friends in cyber world. Recently I started really looking at his page. I did not like what I saw (ahem ... understatement). Actually, I was really freaked out about it. Being the step parent to a teen is tricky (I can only imagine what it's going to be like when Margaret becomes a teenager ... Heaven have mercy on me). I mean, he's got two loving parents who have done a fine job raising this boy. He's a great kid who gets great grades, does excellent in school and doesn't get into trouble ... for the most part. I see my role as an ancillary one. I provide encouragement and support, but in our household I'm the disclipinarian and he learned early on that I am a might unpleasant (cough ... understatement) when things are not to my liking. Being a smart kid, he found that doing the few things that I ask is way easier then dealing with my wrath. But I'd also like to think that we're friends on a certain level. I'm not one of those parents who needs to be one of the guys in lieu of being an authority figure. But he's got a mom, so I've had to carve another niche for myself. So when I saw his myspace page, I decided I would be the one to act. Embracing the tecnology, I sent him a message on his account telling him that even though myspace is mostly populated by teens, that the rest of the cyber world could, indeed, see what he was putting out there. Do kids really think that we, uber-dorky parents, can't figure out how to find their pages ... especially when they leave them open on their computers? I suggested that he might want to rethink the message he was trying to send via his page. I was surprised at the reponse I got from him. He was thoughtful and honest. When I asked him to do me the favor of removing some objectionable banners from his page, he did so quickly and wasn't even the hint upset that I'd looked at his page and hoped he'd make changes. He acted in a mature manner. He not only granted my favor but did so sans drama. I also talked to him about the benefits of being a teen (like not having to pay a mortgage or gas bill) and how despite many teens' desire to grow up too quickly, that this was a time to savor. I am just thrilled at his reponse to my parently meddling, but more importantly, we've opened a dialogue that probably wouldn't have been otherwise. And now when I gush about how great he's doing in school and what a handsome young man he's become, I can add that he's mature and responsible to the list as well. But I'm going to keep monitoring his page. It's not a trust issue, it's for the reason that teens are impressionable and prone to gross lapses in judgment and if I can head off a problem before it starts then we're all better for it.

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