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Modern Living: Effective Strategies for Parenting Teens in the Age of Social Media

Updated on July 27, 2012

These Parents had a Whole Different Set of Problems

Photograph of a Dry-Land Farmer and His Family on the Flathead Reservation Near Niarada, Montana
Photograph of a Dry-Land Farmer and His Family on the Flathead Reservation Near Niarada, Montana | Source

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 soup├žon 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?

She was a delight, but I definitely remember a couple bad choices in there. If it can happen to Angela, no one is safe!
She was a delight, but I definitely remember a couple bad choices in there. If it can happen to Angela, no one is safe! | Source

How shall we deal with the facebook scourge?

How should parents and teens deal with social media when it comes to volitile emotions?

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    • buckleupdorothy profile image

      buckleupdorothy 5 years ago from Istanbul, Turkey

      Thank you for stopping by, teenhelp - I've taken a quick look at the link you provide: it looks like a good resource for parents having a hard time knowing how to help their children make that important transition out of childhood. I encourage anyone with questions or looking for support to check it out.

    • profile image

      teenhelp 5 years ago

      Informative hub. One thing is sure in most of the teens cases that parenting today's teenagers is not an easiest tasks for parents. As in age of Social Media it is more difficult but it is all about the parents and taking care of the teenagers by providing helpful guidance on using Social Media. It is helpful if parents take help from specialized educational consultant tips for better parenting.

    • buckleupdorothy profile image

      buckleupdorothy 6 years ago from Istanbul, Turkey

      That's true - it's very hard for other (non-parental) caretakers to know when and to what extent they can step in. I always thought that was one of the hardest things about long-term babysitting - and incidentally, about tutoring and teaching as well.

      Do you (or does anyone else?) have any guidelines people in that sort of situation?

    • profile image

      Yo Mamma 6 years ago

      I babysit for a crazy spoiled preteen and wish her parents would step in to teach her a little respect for others. But of course, that would require that they acknowledge their kid to be a human on their level - the respect has to go both ways and treating a kid like she's not expected to act any better is an insult of a lifetime.