Parenthood in the Cyber-Age

It began with her calling him “Big Ears” with a return volley of “Squidword”. The bloom of love never blossomed and ended with a “warning” of harrassment and bullying to my 6th grade son. That was the phone call I received on Thursday at 3:05 pm from the school counselor. He was emphatic that my son was, “not in trouble”. They are still investigating the situation and the principal would be meeting with the boys the next week to discuss the issues.

Before I piss off all the feminists, equal rights, tea-party voting readers out there, let me emphasis I do NOT support bullying or harassment of any person or entity. The stereotyping below does not apply to all, just most. There are standard deviations that are taken into account and promptly discarded when speaking about teenagers. Consider that my legal disclaimer for future reference.

When I was in 6th grade I was chased home for 3-weeks by a big kid from school. It was in Germany and I would run through the base housing pounding on doors asking for help I was so scared of him. He had a posse of evil girls that egged him on. It was one of the worst times of my life and all of those children should have been strung up, or at the least, suspended from school. All that occurred was a reprimand from the principal and constant stomach aches for me. It all equaled out in the end..the posse broke up with military moves and the boy ended up having a crush on me. That is what I call bullying and harassment. So, yes, I’ve been on that end of the stick.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, or a left. That is a lesson I’m instilling in my son day by day, inch by inch. All the choices kids have to make today, leading or following, peer pressure and how to “not look dumb” leaves my head spinning and them holding the bag. There is very little individuality in teens or preteens, as their only wish is to be assimilated by the others they yearn to be. They live and breath inside their own little worlds of drama and he-said, she-said play by plays. Sit down and listen to a group of young people if you get a chance, you might be amazed.

Where do we draw the line? How do we teach our children to deal with conflict? In this new era of social media, unlimited text, instant gratification, cyber peer pressure, dual working parents or absent parents and the never-ending excuses for bad behavior. Bad behavior on the parents part.

I’m going to say it out loud and in print. Parents, take responsibility. Letting your tween, preteen or young teen have total control of their online media life is not a responsible choice YOU are making. As a parent you have the onus of being the bad guy, the father/mother and chief, the boss, the big guy, the one that says NO. It’s okay if they don’t have unlimited text, data plans or even Facebook. That’s what jobs are for, when they can afford to pay for it, they can have it. Kind of like tattoos.

Time to revamp parenthood and the rights of our young. Time to draw some lines in the sand and re-educate ourselves. The good old days weren’t that long ago. I didn’t have a computer or a cell phone and I turned out perfectly “normal”.


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