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Too Young for E-Mail?

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Stepbomb: Another difficult thing about divorce is that, more often than not, the ex-spouses don't have a similar approach to parenting. (You already know that's the case with my husband and his ex-wife.) Now my husband's oldest daughter has started asking about getting her own e-mail address, and (not surprisingly) mom and dad aren't in agreement about what to tell her.

girl using computer

Her mom says yes. Her dad says no. I'm staying out of it, as is her stepdad.

That said, my stepdaughter did ask me what I think. We have a good relationship, and she often wants to know what I think about things. But although I have very strong opinions on the subject, I do not feel it's my place to interject them, so I told her that it's up to her mom and dad to figure out. However, I did ask her why she wanted an e-mail address. "Because all my friends have them," was her answer. (This is actually untrue -- I only know of about two girls in her grade who have them.)

We found out a few days ago that mom greenlit the e-mail address when she purchased an iPad Touch for her daughter. Now my husband feels conflicted. On the one hand, he knows he has to trust his ex-wife to monitor things, but on the other hand, isn't this just opening up a can of worms that his daughter isn't really old enough to handle? You have to get on the Internet to get to the e-mail. Will someone be looking over her shoulder every second, making sure she's not distracted by an inappropriate advertisement or news story? And what's the point of giving a sixth grader an e-mail address in the first place? (We didn't even have the Internet until we were in our 20s!)

So my husband (who does regularly try to come to compromises) called his ex-wife, and she gave him the answer she often gives when they disagree: "I'm their mother. I decide." But my question is, why doesn't the father have equal say in what he believes is right for his daughter? And shouldn't mom try to compromise -- i.e., by waiting another year? Should the mother get to decide simply because she's the mother?


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