Social Networking and Parents Behaving Badly

Go Gingham's Facebook PageWe’ve been talking with our teens about the recent incident that happened when a 15-year-old girl posted a complaint about her parent’s on Facebook and her dad’s reaction.  Her complaints were standard teen angst – since time immemorial teens have rebelled and complained about chores and how awful life is with their parents.  That’s what they do.  We should expect them to, otherwise, we should assume they don’t have enough chores and it’s too easy for them at home and they may never want to leave.

The reaction of the 15-year-old girl’s dad is being hailed by some as having done the right thing.  Yes, as parents of teenagers, we may feel like strangling or throttling necks or perhaps the occasional fore-head flick, but that doesn’t mean we should.  As adults, we should think before we say and do things.  The ability to see how things may turn out, maintain our composure, and not act like 12-year-olds ourselves is what sets us apart from our not yet mature, ever evolving teenagers.  If nothing else, parents should not act like teens themselves and out of anger and frustration, film rants to post them on YouTube.  As parents of teens, we may all feel like doing this, but we’re the adults and should behave as such.

Teens don’t yet understand the reach of the internet.  They don’t have the ability to see how their behaviors will impact their future, whether it be college applications, future employment or future love interests.  It’s not like the olden days when a note written on a piece of paper with a pen in long-hand gets confiscated by a teacher and then later tossed into a trash can and that’s the end of it.  No, it’s out there on the world-wide web to share, forward, and download.

Regardless of the technology, kids, today and in the future, still need to learn critical thinking skills.  Social media sites don’t teach kids critical thinking skills.  They learn those from parents, teachers, and other adults in their lives, who demonstrate this by behaving like adults and thinking before they act.  Posting on the internet (or in a text, tweet, status update, or e-mail) makes apologizing for your bad behavior even harder.  It’s almost impossible to take those “messages” back.

When we don’t act like the mature, authority figures that we are supposed to be (and it does happen), we should at least give ourselves the opportunity to apologize for it.  We need to tell our kids we made a mistake, we lost our tempers, and we behaved badly.  That’s the next YouTube video the 15-year-old girl’s dad should film.

Have you been talking about this with your kids? What’s their reaction? What’s your reaction?

Go Gingham related links:

Parenting: Children’s Allowances
Piano Lessons – they’re an indulgence at our house – time and money
Frugal family fun – more ideas that won’t break the bank
Time tested family rules – who knew these would work?
Take the night off and let your kids cook dinner every week
Our weekly ritual – Technology Free Sundays

10 thoughts on “Social Networking and Parents Behaving Badly

  1. Sara – I was also asking who the grown-up was in that family, because I’m certain I didn’t see one in that video. It seemed as though the daughter felt that she was a princess who was above all of this mundane stuff at home, and blew her temper at her parents on facebook. She had blocked her parents access to her facebook account, but forgot to block the dog. What kind of skills had she learned at home prior? Were there reasonable rules and restrictions in place? Were there consequences for bad behavior? It almost sounded like Mom and Dad decided that since she turned 15, they just weren’t going to put up with the nonsense anymore. Had they set a precedent by putting up with it until now? What did this teach the daughter about coping with life’s problems? That to solve things, you lose your temper, pull out your gun and start shooting? I just think that this episode was just the latest in this family’s way of coping. It frightens and saddens me.


  2. Some of my friends posted about this on Facebook and I garnered enough information to know I didn’t need or want to watch the video. I’m an involved aunt, not a parent, and haven’t discussed this with my niece yet.

    I agree with Cathy K. that this family probably hasn’t had any healthy coping skills, and this sad event is likely just one of many that have occurred. The fact that the father filmed and made public his behavior is the most disturbing element. Because of that, and the presence and use of the gun, I strongly believe Child Protective Services should be involved in some way, and at the very least this family should be in legally mandated therapy.


  3. While I don’t agree with the methods this parent took with his daughter, I also don’t agree that we should expect and normalize this behaviour from teenagers. Personally I think that before the end of the second world war, teenagers were probably much different, they worked with their families, some were even starting their own families. After the war when there was more disposable income, and the “suburban” lifestyle began did the current teenager emerged; the James Dean rebellious teenager. While it is important for parents to remember that adolescence is a tumultuous time, we should also remember that if we set our expectations for teens too low, we do them and society a disservice.


    1. You are absolutely right about that “…if we set our expectations for teens too low, we do them and society a disservice.” I think you’re also right about the evolution of the teenager. Thank you for the comment.


  4. While I don’t think much of an adult who has gone to the trouble of filming an posting the execution of his daughter’s laptop, I think I do understand where this father is coming from. I believe it is important for our children to realize that we are more powerful than them. By our behavior and choices, we need to show that the adults are in charge. If a child (no matter how old) is not fulfilling the responsibilities (such as using Facebook responsibly and courteously) which come along with the privileges (such as having a Facebook account, internet access, and a laptop) of being a part of a family, I am completely in favor the parent “killing” the privileges – by simply taking them away. That would have been the bigger, more powerful thing to do.


    1. Annie, I think you’re spot on about being the adults in charge. Being a privilege spoiler parent myself, it all comes down to choices – choices of how kids will behave (or not) and choices of how we as parents react. Thanks for the comment.


  5. I’m not sure who I’m more worried and sad about — the dad or the daughter. I agree thoroughly with your comment that just because teenagers act like, well, teenagers, we need to be adults. What saddens me most is that Dad doesn’t have the ability to step back and recognize that not everything is personal. Certainly being talked about Facebook is hard not to personalize, but I think you’re wise to know that the daughter’s posting isn’t about her parents as people — it’s about teenagers and parents and the eternal tension between them. God knows we struggle with this in our household too (and in the other house the 15-year-old lives in), so I understand where the dad is coming from, but my own experience is that the kid does better (i.e., the schoolwork, the chores, the attitude) (mostly) when his dad and I remain calm, cool, and rational. All of us have a way to go, but posts like yours give me hope!


    1. Oh, yes, the remaining calm, cool, and rational. The other one my husband reminds of daily is not to take it personally. That is really hard for me but I make the effort and appreciate the reminders. Thank you for your nice comment!


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