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Parenting In Public

Yesterday we went to a museum. Actually I should say that yesterday we went to yet another museum. A museum Mr. G had no interest in going to, a museum that Jane had been to just 10 days prior and the 8th museum in the third country that my son had visited since March 12th. Yesterday my family accompanied me to a museum that only I was interested in and after two hours of looking at paintings they waited for me outside the gift shop while I picked up some postcards. As I approached them they looked like this.

This is how Gottliebs do museums and how I ensure that no one ever asks me for parenting advice again.

A photo posted by Jessica Gottlieb (@jessicagottlieb) on

I did what a million other bloggers do every day. I snapped a photo of a very specific, very appropriate moment in time, added a funny caption and hung my family out to dry. It’s not good, it’s not fair and it’s not particularly easy to edit.

We as parents do terrible things to our teens all the time. Our fashion humiliates them, we hold their hands in public or try to kiss them goodbye in front of friends. These are hurtful actions to our teens who are sometimes awkwardly maneuvering into adulthood while trying on different hats. Sometimes it’s slow and plodding, sometimes it’s at breakneck speed but always it is a path they are attempting to make for themselves and though we’re invited along for parts of the ride it’s appropriate for us parents to stand back a little and let them explore their worlds.

It can get a little tricky with social media. When kids are little we work with them to figure out which networks are age appropriate, how and when they can be used and with whom information can be shared. There will always be new apps, there will always be secrets kids keep from parents, there will always be parents who are overly intrusive and others who are terribly neglectful. Most families will be somewhere in the middle with absolutely nothing titillating to share.

This week a mother took to Facebook for her daughters’ behavior at a movie theater. The post has been picked up by several national news outlets and been shared on Facebook more than 5,000 times. Now that the woman she apologized to has seen the post is it appropriate to delete it or is humiliating the kids part of the punishment?

Remember the dad who shot his daughter’s laptop and the internet roared? Everyone thought that was fabulous too. How about the parents who post their own children’s photos on Facebook and announce that they’re bullies, cheaters or thieves?

What is the point of disciplining kids online? Is it to teach them something? Is Hammurabi’s Code the new Dr. Sears?

How many parents have chatted with their friends and said, “I’m glad there was no Facebook when I was in High School.”?

We’ve said this because teenagers are supposed to be pushing limits, making terrible decisions and, hopefully, learning from the mistakes they make. The beauty of childhood is that you can experiment, falter or even fail and do so in relative privacy. The beauty is that people all around you are making the same mistakes and that the stakes are low so you can learn from them, possibly even learn from each other’s mistakes while the consequences are still very different than those of an adult.

Two teenage girls were jerks at a movie theater. They made one family very unhappy.

One mother humiliated two teenage girls in print, on television and online for millions to see. Do we really have to call this good parenting?

2 thoughts on “Parenting In Public”

  1. Is life not hard enough for teenagers without their parents being the ones to post truly embarrassing things about them to the internet?
    Honestly… that picture you posted is a cute photo that pokes fun at *yourself* – not your family. That woman was just plain bullying her own kids.

  2. It is just never a good idea to shame your kids in a public forum especially on social media. This is relatively new phenomenon for those of us in clinical therapy practices and healthcare. It seems that we need to take a course in boundary establishment along with our parenting courses prior to taking on the role of a parent. It starts with babies being exposed in more ways than you can count on FB and Instagram…wait till these children get old enough to defend their privacy.

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