Modern Family: Parents struggle to find balance

Rhydian Talbot/Staff Writer

Oh, modern moms and dads: Start parenting.

Forgive me if my request comes off strong, but it’s a request born out of necessity.

By deciding to raise children in this technological age, you’ve accepted a whole slew of responsibilities parents of generations past never had to touch.

I’d bet in the ‘70s you grew up without a computer in the home; now, you probably walk around with a computer-esque gadget in your pocket — as does your child.

Instantaneous access has its perks, but also bears a social responsibility: besides monitoring your own online actions, you must also monitor those of your child’s.

When you allow the Internet to raise your offspring for you, you’re essentially pushing your child to make social gaffes that could have been prevented had you cared enough to teach them a thing or two.

Exhibit A: A father from Northern Ireland filed a lawsuit against Facebook for allowing his daughter to post racy photos of herself online, claiming the social networking site’s inability to perform background checks on its users makes it “guilty of negligence.”

Firstly, hypocritical dad — you’re essentially trying to sue the Internet.

Good luck.

And, forgive me, but you’re accusing a website for being “guilty of negligence”?

Where were you when she was taking said photos, Mr. Father of the Year?

Moral standards aren’t innate, they’re acquired.

Perhaps had she learned social do’s and don’ts from a responsible source like, say, her parents, she might have chosen to pose for her profile picture with just a few more layers of clothing.

Your parental job description entails teaching morals, manners, and values.

Don’t leave your kids to learn these from the Internet, because the World Wide Web is a big, scary place filled with equally big and scary forum trolls more than willing to corrupt an uninformed youth.

Don’t blame an intangible corporation for allowing your daughter to live like the wild child she raised herself to be, when the blame lies on you and your words (or lack thereof).

Radical idea, this talking-with-your-child business, but hey — it might have worked.

However, the principle of having “too much of a good thing” applies to any excessive involvement in your child’s technological life, especially when you throw school into the equation.

With grades posted online, e-mails reminding you of upcoming events, and teachers’ Tweets about next week’s tests, becoming cyber-joined at the hip to your student can be an easy pitfall.

You may slowly begin viewing your child’s successes and failures as a reflection of yourself.

A few points knocked off an assignment or a phone call home about Johnny’s antisocial behavior gets you thinking that you have just cause for transforming into a feral mama bear, ready to claw the face off any person foolish enough to call out your cub (and by extension — you) for being anything less than perfect.

This animalistic response to educators has begun an alarming trend in recent years: new teachers stay in the profession for a meager average of four and a half years, citing “issues with parents” to be the driving force behind their leave.

Parents, kindly retract your claws long enough to trust the teacher’s judgment.

If she tells you Johnny isn’t performing as well as she believes he can, take it as a suggestion for his overall improvement and not as a personal attack.

Similarly, if she informs you he’s been acting out in class, believe her reports; Johnny may not act like the perfectly programed autobot in school that he appears to be at home under your watchful eye.

View the teacher as a partner in raising your precious mini-me correctly, and not as public enemy number one.

Parents, I know it’s tough raising kids in an era of instant access, but every generation of parents before you has had it’s own set of struggles (you’d find yourself hard pressed to find moms and dads of the Cold War who treated child rearing as a walk in the park when they were concerned said park might be bombed at any minute).

Your challenge is striking the balance between too involved and too flippant.

Talk with your kid once in a while; find out firsthand what they’re struggling with — don’t just rely on status updates.

Inversely, resist the temptation to become a vacuum parent whose overbearing nature sucks the fun of life — and the will to live — out of your genetic double.

I promise it’s doable.

So do it.

Class of 2014

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