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How Not to Parent on Facebook | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

How Not to Parent on Facebook

I am absolutely sick.

I just watched that viral Youtube with the angry dad who shoots his daughter’s laptop. I won’t embed it because it embodies on many levels what can go wrong with parents who don’t interact well with their teens on social media.

The mistakes?

  • Don’t humiliate people online. Even if people are out of line, public humiliation never improves a situation.
  • Don’t post when angry. I’ve done it, and I’ve learned from mistakes. When angry, step away from the keyboard and put down the phone.
  • Don’t destroy property. This is hard as a parent – there are times as a parent of teens, I have gotten that angry. Physical violence does not solve problems.
  • Don’t respond to anger with more anger. Anger + anger = more anger, not resolution of a problem.

I teach community classes to youth organizations and church groups – on how to work with young people on social media. I share my own mistakes and experiences as a mother of Facebooking teens.

Like every parent of teens, there are moments I have felt that absolute hit the wall frustration. The best advice I was ever given was by a more experienced mom who advised me to approach discipline issues with a perspective of how to address the problem but not block lines of communication.

Shooting a teen’s laptop and posting it on Youtube will not improve family dynamics.

My older teen will leave home in 6 months for college. With each day, I realize that our time before she leaves is precious; even when we’re angry at each other, I’ve got to find ways to make it better.

We all know our time with kids passes quickly; what happens if a tragedy strikes right now, with this family, before they can make peace and find resolution? This angry video would stand as the tombstone on the grave of their family peace and happiness for lifetimes.

I’ve been at the receiving end of public humiliation. Once when I was a toddler in church, as my parents were musicians, I sat in a pew and decided I had had enough being good in church. So I kicked the pew in front of me with my dress shoes. And I kept kicking and pounding the pew, which echoed so loudly I woke up the guy in choir who always slept through the sermons. The lady who was supposed to watch me did not stop me. As soon as the service ended, my mother marched into the congregation and whipped me in front of everyone. I never kicked a pew again.

Yes, I needed to be taught a better way to behave. Public humiliation was not the way to make that happen. I still remember that Sunday morning over 40 years ago.

Like the dad in the video, I had a tough road and worked my own way through it. Thank God my teens have an easier life and know what it’s like to have the childhood I didn’t.

Parents do need to monitor and respond to how their teens interact on social media.

This video, however, is a tragic testimony in how not to socially parent.

14 Responses to “How Not to Parent on Facebook”

  1. Billie February 11, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    Seriously??? the man had every right to destroy her computer! You bet ur hiney I would do the same to my teenage boys… my oldest actually posted the video on his fb and made the comment that the dad was in the right and that most dads dont even care enough to discipline their kids anymore. he stated that he bets thats the same thing his mom would do if he disrespected me on the internet. that little girl was in the wrong and apparently the man cannot whip her so he did the next best thing, took away the one thing that means more to her than her own parents! shame on you for not wanting to discipline a child who is so disrespectful of parents who do everything for her! thats the real problem these days, the kids are so fragile now that parents cant even discipline anymore… not this momma, you bet I would have taken an axe to my sons if he ever treated me like that!

    • Kim February 12, 2012 at 7:52 am #

      Wow, first no one said it wasn’t his ‘right’ to destroy his own property. Secondly, no one said she shouldn’t be disciplined just that public humiliation is no the answer.

      Absolutely I would take the laptop. Perhaps even sell it and donate the money. I certainly hope that I would not model behavior that says it is ok to solve a problem with a firearm!

      Punishment — YES

      Drastic measure for repeated offense–Probably
      Violence as solution–NO

  2. Amanda February 12, 2012 at 12:23 am #

    Thank you, Mary for standing up to this sickening form of parenting. The girls wrong didn’t justify the father embarrassing her as well. That’s not discipline. It’s overcompensating for a lack of true discipline with pride and anger. I appreciate what you have to say here.

  3. Dave Huffman February 12, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    I’m going to be honest. At first, I thought I would think his video was brilliant. I read some of the comments first and I thought, “Go, Tommy!”

    Then I watched it. Then I compared it to how I was raised.

    I tried to embarrass my father once when I was a child. In front of my entire class and teachers I made a few remarks about him.

    He found out. Pulled me aside and privately told me never to do it again. In a hushed, controlled tone. It was a horrifying moment for me.

    My mom often handled punishments in the same way. She’d lean in close to you and get real quiet so you had no choice but to listen close…you knew she was damn serious.

    The poise and control mom & dad displayed in those moments was more terrifying than any flying belt or humiliating tactic (I have experience with those too) because I knew they were serious.

    They held true to their word every. single. time.

    It also taught me a lot more about how the world works in general. Meaning, when someone pisses you off or crosses you, you can’t just go around publicly humiliating them or flying off the handle.

    And when you tell someone you’re going to do something…you do it.

    Poise, control, follow-up, and consistency. They’re all difficult things for me to grasp as a parent and a professional, but I always have those experiences from mom and dad to remind me on a regular basis.

  4. maryb February 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    Thanks for the heartfelt responses. Good parenting and discipline does not include public humiliation in its arsenal. It does include thoughtful responses and modeling good behavior which we hope our kids will emulate. Further, good parenting calls us to respond better than a guest on Jerry Springer and to instead work to build communication with one another.

  5. Jacob Yount February 12, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    Good read, Mary. The guy had his heart in the right place but missed the mark.

    This is in reference to your 3rd bullet point and the reason it irritated me. He could’ve given the computer away to a less fortunate teen or donated it somewhere. The punishment would’ve been just as effective and more “adult” than shooting it and the property could’ve then benefited someone.

    He was complaining about installing the new software on her laptop before the fiasco – this would’ve been a perfect way to make sure money and energy put to good use while still punishing the teen.

    • Vianca March 28, 2015 at 1:42 am #

      That’s the smart thkiinng we could all benefit from.

    • online courses April 20, 2015 at 11:03 am #

      I’m with you. Taking note of both good and bad can also affect the morale of your front line team. Since most people only complain about service and do not provide positive constructive feedback, your people that deal with clients day to day love to receive any feedback they can get. This can be a powerful force to create the changes you desire to implement. And cheering up someone’s day is good karma!

  6. Josh Humble February 13, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    Parenting is about strong leadership, not getting on the ground to our kids’ level and fighting with them. “You did this, so I’ll do that,” causes a child to think of his/her parents as older peers, maybe even bullies, taking revenge. He’s loosing respect, not gaining it. STRONG actions in private, taking the laptop forever… many possibilities – but acting a fool (in-articulate in telling his story, at that), just as his daughter did, puts two people in the fool’s tank, instead of just one. As well, the dad just added to the large heap of useless shock videos for our viral dismay.

  7. Takeo March 27, 2015 at 1:19 am #

    If you wrote an article about life we’d all reach ennethtenmilg.

  8. Normally I’m against killing but this article slaughtered my ignorance.

  9. I can’t believe I’ve been going for years without knowing that.

  10. Cool! That’s a clever way of looking at it!

  11. This insight’s just the way to kick life into this debate.

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