For the past 12 months my eldest (E) who is now 11 years old has been having a really tough time. I put it down to the Covid restrictions, no regular routine, home schooling and me and her Dad getting a divorce. Over the past 2 years I’ve watched my happy, wild at heart child slowly morph into someone who is down all of the time, doesn’t smile and isn’t very self confident. These changes began as she started middle school and was trying to find which friend groups she felt a part of. It also was the time she started using a mobile phone as she gets the bus to and from school.
E has always been able to make friends with multiple people/children. She hasn’t really ever had a best friend, just a large group of friends who she could spend time with any of them. I’ve always encouraged this rather than trying to find a best friend. I didn’t find my best friend until I was in my late teens and at college! Having contact with lots of children showed E that kids were all different. Had different homes, different religions, different home lives and I’ve taught her that it doesn’t matter who someone is (or how someone else views them) as long as they are kind to you and you are to them.
It turns out at middle school this is not the way things work, in any way! Pre-teenage girls are horrible to each other! The constant falling out, name calling or belittling of each other is now endless because of contact over TikTok and SnapChat or WhatsApp. I know my daughter isn’t innocent, she most certainly will be giving as good as she gets. It does make me question though….
When do girls turn into decent and kind human beings? You know the ones who big each other up in nightclub bathrooms or is able to tell a crying stranger that they deserve better than their current boyfriend. Girls should have each others back, not be fighting amongst one another. I think E partly understands this, she has only ever seen my friends cheer me up or laugh together. But in reality its difficult to make happen when there are pre-teenage hormones flying around everywhere.
There is a part of me which wonders if social media is to blame for some of the changes in E. Yes I know that she isn’t technically old enough for social media accounts but when everyone else communicates via these mediums there is a balance to strike as a parent between sticking to the rules and/or your child being completely left out/singled out. Parents have a tough job these days, much tougher than ever before. Between Instagram, SnapChat, TikTok there are so many things which I have to check and keep an eye on. Who is she talking to? What are they talking about? What images are they seeing online?
This brings me to my final ish point; my daughter constantly expects “things” or “experiences”. What we have or do isn’t good enough, EVER. I think this is the fall out from influencers and social media. She’s constantly disappointed that we can’t go and get a cold brew with whole milk and three pumps of caramel swirl daily at some expensive coffee shop or have the whole range of James Charles make up 🙄. My make up is from amazon or B and M !!!!!!!
We have a lovely life, now that N doesn’t spend every single penny we have as a family 🤣. She sees me work so hard every day in a full time job, make the most of my wage that comes in and still find time for her and her brother. Surely this must be inspiring 🤣🤷. She isn’t old enough to understand that influencers get paid to promote brands or go to specific places. She wont even believe this when I show her or explain to her in great detail. She doesn’t know that it isn’t real life, where sometimes you are so skint that you pray whilst searching for money down the back of the sofa cushions or that you can feed a family for nearly a week on a few tins of smart price beans and a loaf of bread. Yes I’ve been there!
This year the second most wanted job by GCSE leavers in the UK was a social influencer. We are literally all doomed! Some of these 16 year olds may become social influencers and that’s fantastic for them but its only a very small percentage that will achieve that. What happened to wanting to be a police officer, nurse or teacher? Have we as a country and society treated some careers so poorly that they are no longer inspiring roles for our children or pre-teens?
Everything just seems like a disappointment to E, she isn’t happy with what she has. So we are going cold turkey. NO social media, no mobile phone, no laptop and no Xbox. Yes it extreme. Its been 4 days now and it has been torture, I mean LITERAL torture for me as a single parent 💀. But I think we are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. She’s helping around the house, all be it with lots of nagging, but my house doesn’t look like the usual chaotic mess. She is tidying up after herself, she is starting to become more connected to her brother, she is trying really hard at school because there aren’t any distractions. She is starting to feel more confident in herself and she has even mentioned that not having social media has made her feel better about herself. We still have to do some work on her smart arse know it all attitude and back chatting but we can work on that next week.
Cold turkey is working but Jesus pass me the wine! 🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷