With kids in youth sports, parents talk while watching games. I always enjoy hearing parenting stories or experiences from parents with older kids. I want to learn the good or bad about how they handled their situation. That way, I can avoid the same pitfall or even better be able to repeat the positive aspects of how they responded. I want to share a recent story another father told me.
One day a friend of his daughters showed up at the front door crying. This friend was a good girl and a good student. She went on a date with another “good boy” in the same high school. They had a nice and appropriate evening. They were home by the set curfew; the girl was excited about her night. Nothing inappropriate happened on their date.
The girl went to bed and woke up the next morning to social media called her names. It turns out after the date, the boy who took her out went to social media and told some stories. These stories were designed to make himself seem manlier and more experienced than he was. In the process of building himself up, the online reaction towards the girl was harsh. When the girl read what was being said about her, she ran to her friend’s house, where this father answered the door to her crying. This man’s daughter spent the day hiding inside the house crying and trying to comfort a friend who was a victim of online bullying for absolutely no reason. The boy had no intention of hurting the girl, the unintended consequences of his actions were severe.
That Fathers takeaways:
- They established a rule, no one on one dates in high school. His daughters can go on double dates or group dates. All one on one dates is
- Social media is dangerous even when nothing wrong happens. He read the comments about this girl, and they were harsh enough to make a grown confident woman cry. Social media usage need to be monitored and restricted to protect the mental and emotional health of children.
- Unintended consequences are just as damaging as intentional actions. As a father, he must protect his kids not only from direct threats but also limit their exposure to situations that can be exploited into a negative.
As parents, we think of the obvious threats towards our children such as look both ways before crossing the street and do not get into the car with a stranger. We also evaluate situations with more detail to prevent us from being in the wrong place at the wrong time or guilty by association. With our kids, we need to expand that sphere of influence to help teenagers understand how they can be exposed in situations where they are not doing anything wrong. We need to limit their exposure and teach them how to live their lives above reproach. When the social media or rumor mill storm comes, and it will, let’s teach our kids to behave in such a way no one would believe such stories.
Some will ask if this will limit or traumatize our kids. Others may recall their high school experience differently and think their children should have the same experiences. Most of us grew up without social media or the added pressures of today’s world. Lockerroom talk was just talk, and there was no platform to shame someone publicly instantly. The reality is, our sons and daughters are not going to miss much by telling them they cannot have one on one dates.
We cannot stop all threats or bad experiences, looking back on my life, I learned the most from bad experiences, but we should try to limit the extremes. The world is changing; youth suicide has become mainstream by media and movies while school violence seems to occur with more frequency and severity. Parenting should evolve and adapt to the conditions our kids currently deal with versus the glamorized memories of the past.