do you think I am too strict with my daughter?

darkstarDecember 28, 2001

I have 3 girls. The oldest is 12 (a very mature and responsible 12). I have let her babysit her sisters as well as neighbors children across the street. The neighbor said she is the best sitter they have ever had and how responsible she is. Their other sitters were considerably older.I let her go to church group functions (the coast, the amusement park etc) she sleeps over at her friends houses. I do admitt that I am not thrilled with this as the friend has a 14 year old brother. Ok. Now the problem. I have told her no to 2 things in the last couple of days and she is mad. I can handle it as long as I know I am doing the right thing. I just am not sure as she is my oldest and the "guinea pig". First the neighbor wanted her to babysit on New Years Eve. From 6:30 till almost 1:00 am. I thought this was too late for a kid this age and said no. Neighbors and dd aren't happy with me. Next, best friend asked her to go to the mountains New Years Eve. I am concerned about the ice and snow added to people out partying and said no. The road up always has numerous accidents on it. Part of my problem is that her friend is telling her I am overprotective and won't let her do anything.The friends mother is very casual and has called me before looking for her own 11 year old daughter. She also allows her daughter to ride her bike the 2 miles from her house to mine, crossing busy intersections etc. and go to the mall by herself. This is a really nice girl and I do like her but now my daughter is starting to get a bit resentful.I don't feel comfortable letting my 12 year old go to the mall or the movies by herself (with friends. She is very mature looking and notice she get's looks from older guys (she doesn't do anything to bring this on and dresses appropriately)I don't think she is aware of it. I am sorry this is so long but thought I should give some backround. What do you all think?? Thanks so much.

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I think you're right. When I was her age (I'm almost 22 now) I wasn't allowed to do much. I stayed home with my brother who was about 3 years younger than me but I didn't baby sit other kids. 1am is pretty late. I think it is also your decicion to tell her she can't go to the mountain. Gosh, I wasn't really allowed to have friends stay over let alone go away for a weekend. I think you're just a cautious mother and are looking out for your daughter. Too many parents let the kids do whatever and then are shocked when they end up doing drugs or pregnant or whatever. I would stick to my guns and let her friends say whatever. I know kids hate this, but it's your house and your rules and what the friends get to do doesn't really matter.


    Bookmark   December 28, 2001 at 5:01PM
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Boy can I relate!!!!

My dd is 11 and already is mature looking, and she is tall with long legs and already has boobs! Add her mature personality to it and no way would you know she is 11.

Its so hard to remember how old they are sometimes when they act and behave to much older.

I think you did right.

One thing I will say is MANY kids have said my dd parents are way too strict, we treat her like a baby, dont let her do anything, etc. OH WELL. I am not their mother. While I will tell my daughter that I sypathize with her, and understand that its NOT EASY when you have parents who seem to be stricter than everyone else that doesnt alter my decisions. I tell her it is OK to resent it sometimes too. Thats why we have feelings. However the decisions we make are based on our family needs and beliefs, not the current societys standard. I also tell her she is blessed in so many other areas that she shouldnt let her friends bog her down with this one. As a mature daughter, she earns priveleges and relationships with me that many of her friends DONT HAVE.

In the end my dd knows I love her. Im sure yours does too. We are doing our best.

Stay strong, you did good if it was your best.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2001 at 6:01PM
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You're absolutely right. You're the one responsible for your DD--not the neighbors across the street, or the friend or her mother. You have good, valid reasons for your decisions and I say stick to your guns. My dd had many of the same issues--I was quite strict and never worried about what 'all the others' were doing. I've mentioned this before, but just a couple of weeks ago, DD (20 now) was overheard telling a younger friend that he was supposed to resent his parents rules at his age, but that they were looking out for him and he'd understand when he was older. Yes, they listen--but you may not know it for years. Good luck.

Oh, just a suggestion, and I don't generally advocate rewarding insolence, but why don't you plan a nice family evening--movies, pizza, noisemakers, etc--and tell her that you want ALL the family there to participate?

    Bookmark   December 28, 2001 at 6:52PM
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My daughter is 12 & looks 14 or 15 (she sounds like a carbon copy of yours).

I agree with the other posters that you have the responsibility to raise your daughter & make rules & decisions that you feel are appropriate. What I find amusing is that my DD uses me as "the bad guy" when she's asked to go somewhere or do something she doesn't want to do! Some of DD's friends tell her I have her on "too tight a leash."

I agree with nixing the mountain outing. If I'm not comfortable with the child's parents, my daughter doesn't go. period.

I don't know about the babysitting, though. I'm assuming you'll be home? Yes, it's a long stretch of time, but she'd just be across the street & if you're going to be home (and she'd be WELL compensated for her time), I would be inclined to let mine do that.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2001 at 8:02PM
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I don't think you are to strict. She is your daughter. There are already lots of things I won't let my 7 yo son do that his friends are allowed to do. I think you need to be very involved with what your kids are doing and not give them the opportunity to do things that are inappropriate for theier ages. That means not letting them wander all over town before they are old enough and not letting them go just anywhere with anyone.

I do have a concern relating to the babysitting. Is she really old enough to babysit? I can understand you letting her babysit at home for a short period of time, but who hires a 12 year old babysitter to babysit for six and a half hours late at night? Is she going to be expected to cook without adults in the house? Is food going to be delivered so that she would have to open the door for a delivery person? What would happen if one of the kids she was sitting got sick, or needed help? 12 seems awfully young to have the kind of judgement necessary for such a long nightime babysitting job.


    Bookmark   December 28, 2001 at 8:32PM
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I used to babysit close to home until late sometimes but as far as being on the road driving for the holidays I still wont do it, too many drunks seem to be out on New Years and I would rather stay put than risk one running into me.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2001 at 9:49PM
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I think you are great with your daughter. What does surprise me is that your neighbours got upset that you would not allow your 12-year-old to babysit for nearly 7 hours until 1:00 a.m. Are they saying their kids are safe with a 12-year-old that long? No matter how mature your daughter is, she is still just a young child herself--still not considered old enough to vote, drink, drive or even do algebra. How could they consider her old enough to watch their children? You should be angry at THEM! I remeber babysitting 3 kids, aged 10 months, 2 and 3 when I was 12. When I look back now, this was INSANE. I didn't even know how to change a diaper, let alone how to keep 3 kids safe or watch them all at once. Most adults have a hard time handling this, so why expect as much of a 12-year-old? You definitely did the right thing--not only for your kids but for theirs!!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2001 at 10:12PM
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I think 12 is too young for evening sitting. Go with your gut.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2001 at 12:27AM
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You are doing the right thing. Letting girls go to the mall and hang out when they are too young to understand what is going on out there is asking for trouble. I was just as strict as you are and never regreted it. My dd is a young lady and always has been--and clearly that is your goal.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2001 at 2:58AM
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No, I don't think you are too strict with her.
I think that maybe a better way of handling the situation is not telling her that she can't do something, but showing her why you think that the parents aren't too smart to travel on New Years Eve. It's just not a sensible thing to do.

As for the baby sitting. that is a long time for a 12 year old. I would have problems with it. Would the 14 year old boy be there? Then it is a definate NO!!! He should be the one that is baby sitting, not your daughter. I can remember 14 year old boys, and unless he is very immature, that is a bad age to be alone with a 12 year old girl.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2001 at 10:40AM
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What is it with the mall and 12 year old daughters??? My daughter will be 12 in a few days and we just had this battle last week. She is not allowed to go to the mall without an adult. I will, however, let her go to the movie theatre with a friend or two and I generally give her my cell phone. IMO I have to let her do things a little at a time and I don't feel there is any more harm to be found at the theatre than in the neighborhood. She, too, is very mature for her age and she did start babysitting this past summer occasinally for a neighbor family with two children. So, would I allow her to babysit on New Year's Eve until 1 in the morning? I think my answer is, "yes." Providing it is for your neighbor and you will actually be home that night, I don't see the harm in it. You could maybe even head over to the neighbors house at a certain time where your daughter would be babysitting and see the New Year in together.
As for the mountain party or ANY New Year's Eve party at this age, my answer would be a great big "NO."
But, only you know your daughter and what she is capable of handling. For me I have chosen to give my daughter a little freedom here and there, such as going to a pre-approved movie with a friend. Verses giving her a ton of freedom at a specific "magical" age.
Best of luck in your decision and Happy New Year! ~Pam

    Bookmark   December 29, 2001 at 2:09PM
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Babysitting is something you have let her do before, and which she has done well. _All_ of her life experience to date probably points to her being able to rise to this challenge as well. That's a good thing about being 12, it seems like all the life experience in the world is very directed and very clear. The problem, it sounds like is the 6:30 to nearly 1am? Has she ever been alert and responsible for other human beings that late before? Can she be? Are there other things you know about 'life' or about your daugher, or the neighbors which would also give you pause? In general, for the people who want/need the babysitting service... It's very very hard to find good service on New Year's Eve because everyone else wants to be 'out' too. They may have no other option, except to go someplace where they can take their children or to stay in (maybe they had made plans, and tried a lot of other options before asking your daughter). She should minimally get paid for working a holiday, as well as the extended (for her) hours _if_ she were to take that job. But, you can see how your daughter as well as the people who need a babysitter could both be upset. And, hopefully you can also see how it really can be a best decision on your part to not allow your 12 year old to be put in that position of responsibility for those hours (even though she feels very confident of her skills and ability).

The second thing, about your 12 year old being 'out' on New Year's Eve. She's probably still stinging from what could feel (to her) like a lack of faith in her on your part, and her best friend has invited her someplace for New Year's Eve which she now has freed up. You know the road out there is not safe. Even on a good day going downhill that is probably the case. On a night like New Year's Eve where people's attentions are likely to be elsewhere the road is probably even more dangerous. Simply on the facts, it sounds like a bad idea for anyone (not just 12 year olds) to be going up there and coming back on New Year's Eve. It's a safety issue.

It sounds like you have good, sound reasons for your decisions. Talk to her, or more importantly listen to her. Let her vent a bit, to find out her concerns about where she is 'stinging' and take the time to find out. Let her know you are aware that she has feelings which may be hurt, and that you will take the time to sooth, and let her speak civilly. Basically, go a little out of your way to demonstrate 'respect' for her feelings and thoughts on the matters. That is not the same thing as changing your decisions. That is just building good will, and is something that will go a long way to building and maintaining a good relationship over the next several decades.

those two decisions don't sound too strict

P.S. 12 year olds only have 12 years of life experience at all. Depending on when their puberty strikes, they may have no post pubertal complexity at all; or to one degree or another, but not a fully adult complexity. 12 year olds are also human beings. They are not, however 'free' like adults are. They usually have parents or guardians who are legally responsible for them. Although they have their own thoughts and feelings and ideas and 'needs' about what they want to do, they _still_ have to depend on others to allow or disallow them. It's a situation that doesn't generally and always feel right or good to the 12 year old in question. Their perceptions will probably be 'extreme' and when you say 'no' that can feel like you _never_ let them do _anything_. (You both know what you do in fact allow.) Just, try to remember you're the 'adult' and she's the 'child'; and try to demonstrate to her that you do care about her feelings (even when you have or feel a parental responsibility to say 'no').

    Bookmark   December 29, 2001 at 6:31PM
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Just a thought, would you be willing to let her watch the neighbors children in your home and let the children stay the night at your house? When I was young, my mother always enjoyed letting my watch the neighbors kids at our house. I think she had more fun with them than I did. As for the mall. No way in he-- would I let my daughter lose in the mall without and adult. You are asking for major trouble!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2001 at 12:51AM
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i only have a 6 nos old so i'm not in your shoes. i had very strict parents & although i was allowed to sit for people we knew at the age of 12 up until midnight on weekends only my parents were soooo strict. i hated them for i then, but looking back i think they did the right thing & i think you did too.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2002 at 1:18PM
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My 12 yr old isn't allowed to stay at home alone for more then an hour or 2. I can not imagine having a 12 yr old babysit for any amount of time much less 7 hours.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2002 at 9:36AM
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I know New Year's is over, but I wanted to add my 2 cents anyway.

I started babysitting at 12, and although I don't think I was out until 1am at that age, I think it might be an okay situation. As others have said, if you're going to be home and it's only across the street or next door, that would make me feel better. The kids should be asleep after a few hours anyway, and I would expect that the neighbors wouldn't be upset if your daughter fell asleep afterwards as well. Some parents once told me, "You're not a superhero--we know you can't stay up all night, and parents have to sleep too!"

In any case, I don't think you're being overprotective, and the final decision IS up to you. If you don't think the hours are right for your daughter, then that's that. It's great that you're this involved in your daughter's life. Some parents just don't care...

    Bookmark   January 16, 2002 at 12:03PM
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yes way too strict she is 12 almost teenage she should be mad because at that age girls need some Self esteem are not little Girls anymore parents Too Strict Make Girls Feel really self concious not good thing at think you need give Some Trust as she almost Teenage which Not Little Girl Anymore i really parents way too strict in today's World !

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 10:31PM
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Uhmmm....she's 22 now...probably not an issue anymore...

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 10:49PM
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lol that was definatly a 12 year old herself.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 1:30AM
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Obviously, the original post has resolved itself one way or another, many years ago.

However, just in case others in a similar situation happen along and read this:

Babysitting at age 12? Before you allow your child to do this, OR hire a 12 year old sitter for the most precious things in your live, good idea to check the laws in your locale. It's illegal in my state, for children under the age of 13 to either babysit (including siblings) or to be left home alone. Of course, that's not a law that's enforced many times, BUT if something were to happen when a 12 year old were left in charge of children, there could be serious legal ramifications (one of which is that the children can be taken away from the parents).

Also, no matter how responsible a 12 year old is, are they educated in advanced first aid? Do they know how to recognize and handle a household emergency (do they know how to turn off the water, the electric, how to replace a fuse?) could a 12 year old protect herself and a couple of children if the house were broken into by some grown men while they were there? She certainly couldn't pack the kids into the car if an ER run became necessary.

Personally? I'm not a big fan of letting young teens babysit because they don't have the education or life experiences to handle the kinds of situations listed above. The one exception might be, if the young teen were sitting for the next door neighbor, and her mom was home to help if needed.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 9:00PM
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