The world is a big, challenging place that is different for each of us. Our job as parents is to enable our children to navigate the world independently while acknowledging that they need a support team along for the journey. Our children ARE going to survive this world, but we have to teach them to thrive by showing them that they control the quality of their world. We have to teach them how to limit the world’s negative access to their lives while encouraging them to be a positive influence on the world of others.
It isn’t an easy thing to teach. As parents, we sometimes don’t even understand the world they know. Our children have access to information that we were never challenged with as youth. Social media, internet news, and a world of instant everything from everywhere makes the world seem small and personal and often mean.
I am grateful that I have learned not to let mean people into my world. I have created a network of family and friends that share my values. They may not share my every view, but they are kind, generous, unique people that make my world a positive place to be. Every now and then I end up in a situation that reminds me, yes, there are some mean folks out there. I am grateful each time this happens that I have learned I don’t have to allow them to rock my world. They deserve for me to be respectful, but I don’t have to be a friend. It took years for me to learn this and lots of painful lessons and I wasn’t facing the challenge of having it delivered to me on a text, a message, or a tweet.
We have to learn about the world our children live in to be able to guide them through the maze. Denying access to social media or ranting about its’ evils won’t make it go away. They are a reality. We have to embrace the world and find the good to be able to steer them from the bad. We have to be a part of this world our children spend time in.
We are a part of many of the social media outlets our children use, especially those with a very public setting. I am pretty sure they weren’t thrilled at first, but over time it has become a pretty fun experience with them. We refrain from commenting too much and try not to be a part of every conversation. If we have an issue with something one of them writes, we just mention to them or send them a text asking them to delete the comment and usually have a conversation about it later. We have learned a lot about their friends and even more about our girls. They each use social media very differently.
Over the past few years we have watched and used conversations to talk about self esteem, respect, and bullying. We have talked about surrounding ourselves with people we respect and people that respect us. Two of our children are in high school now so the conversation has also included ensuring their social media presence represents who they are as college and employment become more important.
We also have a lot of fun. I have learned it’s a great way to s/o (shout out) some quick support to our girls. We can # (hashtag) with the best of them. Most importantly, our kids know we have their back and get what their world is like. We have learned we really, really like their friends. This doesn’t mean we haven’t had issues or hard lessons. We have three teenagers and it is their job to test their independence. It is our job is to make sure they know we will be their support system ensuring they get there.