We have all heard the scary stories about the teen who ran away based on promises made online by someone who pretended to be a friend. Sadly, they aren’t just headlines. These are real situations that may have happened to someone we hold dear; a family member, friend or neighbor.
As a parent who grew up without texting, Facebook and face time, learning these new forms of communication can be exhilarating and daunting. As a parent, they are also frightening.
It is so tempting to stay up at night and read every text, email, post and comment my girls have sent or received. How many of you have had the same temptation? Have you given in to it? Is this protective or a violation of their privacy?
Ask my daughters and I am sure they will tell you it is none of my business. Ask some of my friends and they would say the same. Ask others and they would say 'Be sure to read everything, that is what a good parent does!'
I face this temptation and question regularly. I have chosen to respond by keeping the lines of communication open and hoping that my girls will use what they have learned at home to make good decisions. I try to teach them about Internet safety, respect for themselves and others, and thinking before acting.
I don’t want to be that parent that jumps in and fixes every situation for their children. I don’t want to be called a "helicopter parent," or worse. But I also don’t want to be the parent that has to answer that dreaded phone call from the police. I do believe it is my job as a parent to keep my children safe and I take this role seriously.
I want my children to learn how to save the day for themselves. I want them to learn the tools they need to succeed from my parenting and the example I set. Most of all I want my girls to always know that I am here to support, advise and love them, no matter what.
So for now I need to trust them to use the modes of communication available to them wisely. But I will also constantly remind them how to be safe and respectful. While crossing my fingers that they will continue to make the right choices.
Text safely and wisely, I may be watching....