As of this morning a YouTube video posted last week has now over 25million views. You may have seen it~or if you haven’t, you might want to check it out.
I watched this on Tuesday after seeing many friends and family post it to Facebook. Many of the comments indicated to me that this might be something that would make me laugh, be excited about or want to do a bunch of cyber-highfives to.
Clearly, I’ve never hidden my expectation that my kids are respectful people who do their fair share of work and responsibilities and so I went into the watching of this video probably a bit on the side of the dad before ever having watched it.
I have to say, it was hard for me to get through it all. I did not feel excited, happy or gleefully ”on side with Daddy'”. Rather, I felt sick, sad and hurt for him and his daughter. I cringed as I got through the entire 8 minute rant. Don’t get me wrong; I totally understand where he’s coming from. In fact, I’ve been exactly where he is. Exactly. I have 4 kids, 2 of whom are now over 16 and we have walked through these waters of disrespect, whining and complaining about duties, FB inappropriateness and public humiliation. I have 2 more kids coming up in these ranks soon and I have learned something: your kids are fragile.
In fact, their fragility escalates during the formative teen years. Some kids are more resilient and take their hormone changes in stride but others fight it and struggle for years with boundaries, emotions and feelings of being taken for granted. I get this teenage daughter. I feel for her. I’ve been there~both on the receiving end as a parent and on the end of the teen. She is hurting and she is offended. Maybe she didn’t handle it well. How many teen girls do? Maybe she could have taken a better approach in talking to her parents about her stresses(or perceived stresses) and any unfairness that she feels is being directed her way. But hear me on this: Teenagers today are not us. They have not grown up in the world that we grew up in and they have an exponential amount of social pressure that we never had.
Facebook, as much as I love it, is a toxic world for teenage girls. There is a certain amount of anonymity on there which leads a lot of people to feel they can spout off at any time without fear of repercussion. Unfortunately for young girls, there are a lot of repercussions, not the least of which is realizing that your hormonal rant given in the heat of the moment will haunt you for the rest of your life because you lacked the self control to wait for a clearer head and more guarded tone with your parents.
Let me just say this to all the parents out there who have not ever had to deal with a child that has acted out in this way or to the parents whose kids are still young and think it will ” never” happen on your watch: Put yourself in her shoes. No, I didn’t say pretend this happened in 1985 with YOUR parents, in YOUR house and the way YOU were raised…put YOURSELF in HER shoes. Pretend you are her, right now with YOU as her parent and her current life as your own. With her friends, her school, her workload and her consequences. How would you feel if your dad went on YouTube, smoking his cigarette, full of swagger and attitude(I actually kind of felt like he was nervous and pretty upset too), reading what YOU thought was private and for your friends only. How would you feel knowing your dad had been on your Facebook account reading everything you had in your inbox? And now, consider how you would feel, going to school the next day, facing all of your friends, your peers, the kids who already hate you, condescending teachers and unsympathetic family. Can you imagine? I cannot fathom the depths of despair this young girl must be in. And please don’t confuse my sympathy for her with what she wrote. But seriously, this dad has damaged an already fragile relationship with his daughter. He is possibly going to regret this more in the future than she will regret ever ranting in the first place.
Dads, Moms, show your kids the grace that you would expect to be shown. Yes, you need to discipline, ground and take away privileges. Yes, there are consequences for what our kids do on FB and in public. But they are kids and they have their whole lives ahead of them. We have already established our reputations; our shoulders are broader and we tend to bounce back fairly quickly from embarrassing situations. A 15 year old girl could be damaged and scarred for life over a “lesson” her dad thought he was teaching her.
I am praying for this family. I am praying for reconciliation, redemption and grace. I am not laughing or high-fiving. I am sad. And it makes me more upset with all of the people who think this is worthy of praise for this dad. 25million and growing. It’s no wonder our kids feel alienated, unloved and screwed over.
- And just as a quick note about Facebook and teens: all of my kids are on FB. The conditions for us in our house BEFORE they got their accounts was this: They MUST be friends with us, their parents. If they are going to post things that they would not want us to see or read, then clearly they are not ready to be on Facebook.
- They must let their friends know that profanity and inappropriate photos will not be tolerated.
- We regularly go through their friend lists: no person is approved as a friend unless they know them in a personal, face-to-face way. Friends are only friends if they are people we would have over to our house and are pouring positive support into our lives.
- FB can be taken away at any time , for any reason if attitudes or actions show they can’t be responsible online
- At any time I, or their dad, should be able to look in their inbox(with them present) and read any or all messages. Meaning…don’t be bashing friends or family in public OR in private.
It works for us. Our kids have done well and don’t actually post a lot anyways. And we’ve managed to at least prevent any embarrassing or life-long baggage from coming back to haunt anyone.