I have often said that being a parent is a challenge in many ways. After all, children come without an owner’s manual. The influence of today’s hyperactive social media world challenges parents, including me, in a new way. Some of these challenges do not make sense.
I coach a girls’ softball team and our staff implemented a team site strictly to communicate logistical updates such as game times, locations, and uniform details. Just yesterday, I learned that one of the 12 year old players used the site to call a teammate a “bitch”. Not surprisingly, this action upset many of the kids on the team. Questions come up for me about parenting in this situation all the time. I also question if our setting up such an account was the best idea for some pre-teen girls. But herein lies the problem. Every kid with the exception of one that I am aware of already has their own smart phone, Instagram account, and are on Twitter. At practice yesterday they asked if I would share my snapchat information.
I am not surprised at a 12 year olds capability of saying something inappropriate on a social media platform, but how is it that not one parent saw their daughter’s site? Not a single parent approached me with a concern about this incident. Is no one monitoring their kids’ activity? Are parents allowing unsupervised use of social media, which could bring strangers into their homes?
Parenting is difficult. To be the best parent in this crazy world you have to first understand and then make sense of the way you were parented. As parents, we want to give our children better than what we had access to while growing up. Because you may have been limited for one reason or another, please caution yourself in allowing your child to do whatever she wants. Parents’ have to remember how they were influenced and how that produced insight and understanding, this requires introspection.
Parents can empower their children by talking with them, examining their self-doubt together, and by using a mix of empathy, affirmation and assertiveness. Ultimately, young people need three things: They need someone to believe in them to affirm and validate their inherent values and potential. They need a believe system that has rules and restrictions based in love. They need a place to belong. They need these things from their parents, they do not need their parents to be their friend.
Parents if you can’t do this role alone get someone to help you!