Modern Living: Effective Strategies for Parenting Teens in the Age of Social Media
These Parents had a Whole Different Set of Problems
Facebook Parenting: For the Troubled Teen
The Conundrum of Public Parenting
This video of North Carolina father Tommy Jordon responding to his daughter's facebook rant has absolutely gone viral, drawing equally fierce condemnation and praise. I'll admit I fall into the latter camp, but with a soupçon of pity for the girl involved. With the growth of social media platforms like facebook, twitter, and google+, she and her peers have roughly ten million more ways to brutally humiliate their current and future selves as well as to cause plenty of hurt to themselves and those around. And it's simultaneously that much harder for today's parents to get some basic truths hammered into their squishy brains before those juvenile cranial fissures close for good. What's a parent to do?
Tough Love: time-honored, but what about the spotlight-shy parents?
Anyone who knows a few spoiled teenagers (or, heaven help us, the entitled, spoiled adults they can, if unchecked, turn into) knows the value of a little well-placed, well-thought-out tough love. The father at the center of this particular judgy-storm was clearly not being a gun-wielding bully. He was calm (and not serial-killer calm, either) and he had a message: your actions are disrespectful, your exaggeration boarders on outright falsehood, and the adults in your life do not deserve this treatment. I don't see any "Hulk Smash" anger there. By putting it on his daughter's facebook page, he was ostensibly reaching the same group of teens that she had been showing off to and perhaps trying to get them to think about their own attitude towards and use of social media platforms like facebook. (You can question my interpretation of her initial rant, but something addressed to her parents but broadcast to her peers and (badly) hidden from its addressees is clearly an action meant to elicit pity and commiseration, to get attention).
A word on the gun thing: yes, guns freak me out, and yes I would have said that was over-kill. The father has gone out of his way to defend his use of firearms, explaining that guns are a part of the culture in his part of the States and no one in his community would be especially surprised or put off by the use he has made of his. Okay, not an approach I would advocate in my neck of the woods, but the word 'subjective' exists for this very reason.
So anyway: this brave fellow, Tommy Jordan, was willing to expose himself and his family to the crowd of clowns that we seem to turn into online in order to try to teach his daughter an important lesson in a manner and medium that he felt she would understand. What about those of us who would really rather not sort through buckets of hate-mail? How can the more private parent get the same point across? Always a proponent of the clear, well-reasoned, direct approach, I wish that a non-aggressive explanation of the importance of respect for self and others could be counted on putting the matter to rest. Unfortunately (decent and reasonable kid that I was), even I fell victim to that noxious brew of hormones, self-involvement, and rebelliousness that seems more or less necessary to spitting out a fully-formed, self-aware 20-something. So I'm decidedly saying that it's not the girl's fault, per se, for having such intense, if skewed, feelings of injustice. Her method of dealing with it, however, leaves something to be desired - and is a method that she shares with many of her peers.
So what other approaches are available to the responsible parent who wants to make sure that his or her darling spawnling doesn't grow up to be a blight - that the kids growing up today, airing their private grievances to an unimaginably large peer group, learn to be reasonable, self-aware, empathetic individuals any parent could be proud of?