A parent in our private support group recently posted about a teen couple who each posted a video of themselves kissing. They’re old enough to be kissing. They’re old enough to have Instagram and Snapchat.
Old enough to know better than to record it and post it to social media? Not necessarily.
There’s always a bevy of discussion and responses whenever anyone posts in our group, all super supportive and kind. Lots of love and support were sent to the parent who posted, and lots of people chimed in with how they’d respond to this situation.
There are several different levels of need, and my suggestion was to address them all openly. The kids have a current need (to show off to peers) and a future need (to look respectable online). The parents have a need as well.
The kids’ motive is probably to show everyone else that they’ve got someone to kiss – social proof that they are Awesome. From their perspective, the video is harmless and the status is super important.
From our perspective, we worry about the private-public continuum – this seems too private to post to the world. And what if their peers respond unkindly, critically? Cyberbullies will comment online in ways they probably wouldn’t in person. What a mess they could be getting into!
For outsiders looking in (employers, universities) this speaks most to judgement and self-control. They may question what these kids will do impulsively while representing their brand. They may not want to accept or hire young people who, in their opinion, show poor judgement.
Sooooo, I’d be addressing all three points of view in a conversation with my daughter. Lots of listening to her about her video, and asking if my interpretation of her motive is right. Then I’d be transparent about my concerns and explore her grasp of the public-private continuum. Then I’d explain the wider concern about how her digital footprint may look to others.
The end result may be the same, that the parent requires the child to take it down.
However, how you get there is significant. If it can happen through connection and exploration of each other’s viewpoints, it’s a true learning experience.
Not only do we learn from each other, it brings us closer.
I’m sure any parent would feel justified in laying down the law for their teen, and it may feel like it has to happen right now, to close up the vulnerability.
What I hope you and I and all parents can avoid is a situation like this one becoming a power struggle. A “You just don’t understand!” or “You’re trying to ruin my life!” kind of conflict.
That’s what often happens when we freak out. When we address a situation like this one without getting support, thinking through our talking points, understanding everyone’s point of view, and attempting to meet everyone’s needs.
Easy? No way. Super difficult, especially when it’s YOUR KID.
That’s why my clients have open email access to me, a lifeline where they can pour out whatever’s going on, and I can respond with how I see it and suggestions for next steps.
That’s why we have a private Parent Support Group, so that you can have a community of supportive parents to lean on – and my voice too!
I truly hope you’ve got a village which meets all your needs. But if not, you’re warmly invited to join ours.
In support of you,
P.S. The video library membership includes access to over 80 videos on talking with kids about sex, plus the Parent Support Group. Check it out!