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Mary Biever | One Writing Mother | Tag Archive | teens
Tag Archive - teens

How not to be THAT mom on Facebook

THAT Mom

The only thing scarier to a teen than mom’s saying, “I wanna be your friend on Facebook” is when grandma says it.

How do we avoid becoming THAT mom? We often learn Facebook while or after our kids do, without parenting role models. I was on Facebook a year before my kids were, and I taught workshops on family Facebook safety. Here’s what we did:

  1. Stay legal. Facebook Terms of Service don’t allow users before age 13.  Teaching a kid to lie about a birthdate for faster gratification is not smart. Facebook users under 13 place Facebook in violation of federal statute. Underage kids who get caught get kicked off.
  2. Be friends. On our kids’ 13th birthdays, they started Facebook, and mom and dad were their first friends. A local prosecutor friend was their third. “Why does HE have to be next?” our kids complained. If he was their friend, they might think twice about posting something stupid. That would help protect their personal brand. Check privacy settings monthly because their settings change.
  3. See but don’t be heard. Much. Watch what’s posted, but don’t comment or like everything your kids post. The less you post, the more likely you are their friends will friend you.  Teens think adults who comment or like too much are creepy stalkers. If you have a smartphone, subscribe to their feed and photos. 
  4. Be vigilant. If another adult tells you to look at your kids’ postings, do so.  Once, I warned a parent something looked off. That’s when the family discovered their 15 year old had friended an out of state predator.
  5. Beware the games and apps. I no longer have time for games. When I first started, I accidentally sent a Valentine postcard that said “I love you” to my husband. And my friends. That posted on their walls. Including teens. I spent an afternoon deleting them.
  6. Veto if you can. If your kids post something stupid, try to get them to delete it. I told my kids if they post something on Facebook during school hours, I may correct their grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.  It works better if I tell them privately than post the correction publicly.  Any band or movie whose name includes a 4 letter word or “sex” in it cannot be mentioned.
  7. Encourage. One of my favorite role model moms – online and in real life – posts on each of her kids’ walls on Facebook at least once a month, “I love you.”

Being a mom of teens online is comparable to real life. Watch, encourage, admonish sometimes, and always, always love them to pieces.

Diary of a Mom

Baby - did I used to take showers? When will she start talking? This is the hardest phase of parenting because there’s so much work.

Toddler - She’s talking! Tells me no sometimes! This is the hardest phase of parenting because there’s so much running. 

Preschooler - Now she talks back. Just when I think she’s ok, she’s tried something new or made a new mess.  She told me I’m the meanest mom on the planet cause I told kids no when I chaperoned her field trip. This is the hardest part of parenting because we juggle watching with letting her explore.

Elementary - Can she ever take a breathe when she’s talking? This is the hardest part of parenting because I’m driving her everywhere all the time.

Middle School – She talks to her friends but doesn’t like to talk to me. This is the hardest part of parenting because of her attitude.

Early High School – She tells me how wrong I am and how right she is on a daily basis. If I had known how hard this part of parenting was, I would have planned a different life path.

Later High School – Some bad days, some good days. I choose my battles. In just over a year, she’ll be in college. This is our last time together before she leaves. This is the hardest part of parenting because we have so much to do before she leaves home.

College - We left her at her dorm today. I cried. Will miss her and wouldn’t trade a minute of my life as mom. 

Well, wouldn’t trade most of the minutes of my life as mom.

My life as mom hasn’t ended. It just changed.

Maybe that’s why the Bible says “and so it came to pass” instead of “and so it came to stay…”

Busted or Not?

Please answer the question at the end of this blog: was my son busted or not?

I’m a huge advocate of finding ways to incorporate social media into the classroom. Twitter offers a world of real time opportunities to build peer connections and learn from brilliant people all over the planet. To that end, I enjoy Mondays when I have time to join the #smcedu chat and encourage social media clubs on college campuses.

The ways teachers can leverage social media to enrich classroom experiences are endless. 

But there’s another side to the coin. In my spare time, I lead a teen discussion group on classical literature; my son is one of the members. When the new Facebook groups debuted, I decided to create a private group for the teens involved (and their parents) so we could exchange study helps, assignments, and answer questions.

Today, I posted a link to a study guide to help them read The Iliad. My son immediately commented that the link was one ugly website. Problem: he commented during school time, which means he was playing on Facebook while he was supposed to be working on Algebra. I immedad iately commented under him – why are you on Facebook instead of math?

So my question is: did I bust him for goofing off during official school time? Or was he learning in a different manner from previous generations? 

And for students: would you revolt if you started getting assignments from your teacher in a study group on Facebook? Or would you appreciate getting information in a place you already surf?

Teaching Plato Outside the Cave to Teens

How could I get teens excited about ancient Greek literature?  Specifically, how could I help my 14 year old son who loves robots lots more than reading get Plato? As I sat on a back deck today, the sun beamed among the trees. I suddenly saw how to help get Plato’s cave. 

I called the teens outside and told them to pull chairs into a line, facing the house’s outer wall.  Then I told them their legs and necks were bound; the only thing they could see was the blank wall.  Sunshine was behind them, but they could not see it. We could make shadows with the sun, onto the wall of the house, but shadows were different from the real thing. This was our version of Plato’s cave.

One girl was “set free.” She walked behind the row of chairs and could see the sunshine.  I told her to note all the things she never saw because all she had known was a wall. Like the prisoner in a darkened cell, the sunshine would take some adjusting.  After she had explained it, I told her to go back to her chair to sit with the others.

I asked her what it felt like to return to the chair to only see the wall.  Depressing. I challenged her to explain what she had seen to those who had only seen the wall.  She struggled to find words, and the teens played along as good skeptics.   She was now the philosopher who had seen things the others never realized.

As a conclusion to the exercise, I noted Plato’s observation that if those who had always been chained got the chance, they would most likely kill the philosopher.

After the real live exercise of Plato’s allegory of the cave, the kids got it.

We sat in the sunshine after that, and I thought about how this applies to us. We think we know the whole universe, and then we see a light and realize we’ve gone from Kansas to technicolor Oz. If we then return to our old wineskins, we struggle to explain to those who’ve never seen the light what we’ve encountered.

Our challenge is to explain what the light is such that people will listen instead of kill us. Those ancient philosophers are more than just a bunch of dead Greek guys. 

Are you in a cave? Have you turned around to see the light? If so, did you share what you saw with others?

A 4-H Robotics Contest with a Twist

My kids have been involved in robotics contests the past 4 years.  They enjoy them, and I love the varied skills learned in a single contest.  First, there are the technical skills: a problem is presented, and a whole team has to work to solve it.  Physics, mechanics, engineering ingenuity, and computer programming are all key elements.  Second, there are team building skills: team members must learn to communicate and work together.

Besides being a parent, I’m a 4-H leader in Evansville, Indiana.  4-H has a major emphasis towards science, engineering, and technology and has a national goal of inspiring 1 million new scientists for our new century.  I began the process to have a robotics project in our county. 

A robotics project wasn’t enough, however.  We needed a club that focused on technology.  I didn’t want a robotics club; when Edison invented the light bulb, were there light bulb clubs? It’s more than robotics.  Our information revolution is the biggest transformer of world culture since the Industrial Revolution, and I wanted our kids to be ready to be the best riders in the world Technological Rodeo.

So we began a Technology Club.  (Actually, the kids in the club voted they didn’t like that name and renamed it Tech Club.)  At each monthly meeting, we have a different workshop topic in engineering, electrical science, aerospace, computers, and physics.  Each member tackles a 4-H project in one of those areas and gives a demonstration each year in one of those areas.

Our county sends several teen 4-H members every summer to participate in science and engineering workshops.  I hope, with our club, we raise the interest in those workshops and the knowledge base of those who participate.

We also organize our county’s robotics contest. The last 2 years, the contest has mirrored other contests in which my kids participate, with teams competing against one another.  Our contest is an impromptu design contest;  kids don’t know until they arrive what the challenge is and have limited time in which to complete it.

This year’s contest adds an element almost out of a reality show.  In addition to the team contest, we will have judges observing the competitors individually.  They will evaluate the competitors both in problem solving and team building skills.  And they will award an individual champion in each of 3 age divisions. I have not seen another robotics contest try this twist and am curious to see how the experiment works.

Problem Solving:

  1. Understands challenges presented and develops strategies to overcome them.
  2. Develops a good robotics design for the challenge.
  3. Assists in robotic programming to meet the challenge.
  4. Demonstrates strong troubleshooting skills.
  5. Is able to make needed adjustments to robotic design or problem solving.

 Team Building: 

  1. Participates on the team.
  2. Communicates constructively with other team members, actively listening to them.
  3. Encourages participation of all team members; pulls strengths from individuals to build a better team.
  4. Takes good care of robot and its parts.
  5. Treats everyone in the robotics contest in a respectful and supportive manner.

My goal is to teach the 4-H members to not only strive to win but to strive to win well.  We’ll know later tonight whether my experiment to mix up the contest is a success or an epic fail.

Either way, our leaders and our club will learn by doing.

Good Night Moon

Over a decade ago, I cuddled with my babies each night as we read Good Night Moon.  My kids “read” each page aloud with me.  When we finished, the lights would go off, and I would hear their trying to sneak a few last games in before going to sleep.

In this time just before they are legal drivers, my life is now measured in tag team pickups and carpools.  I’ve not yet mastered bilocation so I can pick 2 kids up in 2 different places at the same time.  Thank God I have a great husband who helps as much as he can.

Yesterday, my son had a robotics contest at a local university while my daughter was going to a formal.  Brand new experience – her escort picked her up at our house and drove her there.  We had never before allowed our kids to ride with a teen driver anywhere.  Yes, he’s a good guy and a good driver.  But this was my baby.

Richard took our son to the robotics contest, and I stayed to see our daughter off to her formal and take “those” pictures – the dressed up teen couple ones.  As soon as she left, I raced to see the robotics conclusion.

After we got home, it began to rain.  I controlled my urge to call her cell phone and tell her we would pick her up there.  I controlled my urge to call and see how she was doing.  Yes, he was a good driver.  But it was a dark, rainy Friday night.

So I sat, waiting for her to get home.  I chatted with another mom on Facebook as she waited too.  Please God keep my baby safe and send angels to clear that road as she comes home.  They warned us about 2:00 feedings with a baby, but I don’t hear much about staying up for curfews.

She got home fine.  The confident lady who left in the jewel blue formal with sparkles had sparkles in her eyes as she told us what a wonderful time she had.  Then she went to her room, to do her thing and listen to music I don’t understand.

I sat alone for a moment in front of my computer, thinking.

Good night moon.  Good night nobody.  Good night mush. And the old lady, whispering hush.

Now, I’m the old lady.

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