October 4, 2016

Be Circumspect and Judicious

A few times a year, I run across “shaming videos” on social media. You know them, too: videos posted after a parent becomes so angry with a child’s bad behavior that he or she plans a deliberate means of humiliating the child, tapes the event, and then shares it on Facebook and Instagram, begging others to make it “go viral” with the supposed goal of “reforming” the child via public abasement. Tragically, those videos usually garner several hundred thousand “likes” and hundreds of positive comments.

Much more regularly – at least a handful of times every week – I read posts in which a parent publicly rants about his or her child’s bad behavior. The child is often referenced by name or other personally identifiable information, and the parent displays very little restraint in detailing the extent of the child’s shameful acts. Often included in these diatribes are phrases like, “He drives me crazy,” or even, “She makes me sick.”

Parenting is hard; I know that. I’ve been blessed with generally compliant children – but they’re human and we’ve had our fair share of challenges over the years…with more to come, I’m sure. And I’ve listened to – and counseled when appropriate – dozens and dozens of other parents with deep concerns over wayward or otherwise struggling children. Sometimes kids’ behavior drives us to justifiable frustration and even anger. Sometimes we reach our limit and feel we must vent. And we can feel so stuck that we’re desperate for the opinion of someone – anyone – else.

But we must be very careful. It’s one thing to vent to a dear friend – offline and out of earshot of one’s children or anyone else; it’s another thing entirely to broadcast a child’s misdeeds publicly. And make no mistake about it: just as we wisely counsel our kids to be careful about what they put on social media because nothing there is really private, so, too, the same guidelines apply to our own posts – no matter how tight our settings or “secret” a group. Likewise, it’s one thing to post a general parenting question, even a desperate one – social media can be a big help in that regard; it’s another thing entirely to lambast and excoriate a child in the public setting of social media, no matter how terrible his behavior may have been.

If we want our kids to maintain open communication with us throughout their lives – and I hope that’s our goal, because it’s through openness that we grow and maintain the relationships that will enable us to guide them through the travails of growing up – they have to trust us. But if they discover we’ve betrayed their privacy by maligning them on social media – and they will find out, either by seeing the posts, hearing someone talk about them, or simply via our attitudes that will seep into our real life interactions with them – we’ll kill that trust. And open communication dies with it.

Get wise counsel when needed. But be circumspect and judicious. And think before you share on social media. Would you want someone airing
your dirty laundry all over Facebook without your consent? Of course not. And our children deserve from their parents the same common decency we expect others to give us.

Photo Credit: ellyn.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...