I might have subscribed to beliefs more along the lines of coercive parenting before I became the mama of an older child.
As my firstborn grows older (and she's not yet requested a MySpace but it's only a small amount of time before she does, in my estimation), I can see that she needs my respect, trust and support more than ever. As a pre-teen, she faces not only more complex and worldly situations than when she was little, but also within her own being is a rapidly growing, strong need for independence, self-declared integrity (based on her own
developing value system - which, I'm proud to say, strongly reflects the values I exposed her to in her early childhood), self-regulation, and self-reliability.
I'm well aware of the fact that I could
potentially utilize my authority as parent to crack down and ask 20 questions at will. I also know the look in my daughter's eyes when I push too hard for information. So I have bent in kind. I see the laws of attraction and repulsion in action, here, because no matter how independent and head-strong she may be - she still sees me as 'mightier' sheerly because I am her mommy. I know that I felt intimidated by my parents, with very little effort on their part, well into adulthood. Heck, I'm now 35 and still find myself feeling veeery impressionable by my father (my only living parent). I think it comes down to the strong, innate inclination toward wanting our parents' love and approval.
I know from my own experience as a teen that, if pushed too far, I eventually became apathetic about my need for their approval because their control pushed me to the point of caring even more
about my autonomy and the very real threat they posed to it by means of universal distrust and control. Keep in mind that I never actually DID anything as a teen to deserve that. Looking back, it was more of their preconceived notions and general attitude of 'not trusting children' that caused the most damage to our relationship. I know this because I've had to spend many years un
learning that concept.
It is not true, in my personal philosophy, that children should be automatically not-trusted, but that is, sadly, the first inclination (automatic reaction) in my mind due to my upbringing. I am proud to say, however, that I've achieved a place where I no longer react to that inclination when it comes to me. Instead, I notice it silently and smile to myself knowingly. I feel great peace from the progress I have made in this area, knowing that my children are not only receiving the benefits of my evolution of perspective, but also that they're watching me
the way out of hell. Because, really, general distrust toward those we're most intimate with is truly a living hell.
FWIW - we are unschoolers, and my daughter has a computer and internet access in her room. And I agree with UnschoolnMa's comments regarding MySpace as a vehicle and that the issue really lies on the decision-maker and their decision-making process. I like the discussions the internet gives us the opportunity to have regarding safety and personal boundaries. In fact, in many ways, it's easier to talk about these things in the context of something I can watch with
her, right there, than something that occurs when she's away from me with her friends.