As the sun creeps in and I scroll through my Facebook feed, I am startled to see another post publicly shaming a local teen.
I think to myself; we are better than this.
We can do better.
We have to be better.
We need to change this shaming behavior and instead uplift and support the growing teens around us.
Our teens need us to be there for them even through the many mistakes they make. They don’t need to feel as if big brother is always lurking around the corner to catch them in the act of doing something to then post it all over social media and then publicly calling them out.
My kids constantly say to me, “I wish I were growing up when you did. We could do fun things, not get caught, and there were no video cameras! It must have been so much fun.”
And you know what?
My kids are right.
It was fun and carefree. We were able to run around for hours outside without our parents knowing exactly where we were because tracking didn’t exist. Our parents had to put a level of trust in us that we were where we were supposed to be, and if we weren’t, one of two options took place. They found out, and we were grounded, or they never found out, and we had a good story to tell.
My kids want to live a life that allows some room for freedom, flexibility, and growth.
They want a carefree life where they learn from mistakes before any adult even knows what they got into. They want to experience an organic life, not a life mapped out on Life 360 or Find My Friends. They want to feel and experience true independence.
But how can our teens live their lives as we did when today’s technology allows parents and neighbors to know what the kids are doing at all times?
Technology is not going away, but how can we as parents use technology to keep our teens safe while not publicly shaming them?
What can we do to be better?
Maybe the answer is rather than publicly emailing a neighborhood about a particular situation such as catching a neighborhood kid on their home video surveillance removing a yard sign or ringing and then running, to call the parent and address it privately?
It offers a kind word of understanding without belittling the teen or the parent for their kid’s behavior?
It’s not publicly shaming a parent on the local Facebook page about their child’s decision.
Or maybe we need to take a few steps back and recognize that we, as parents and neighbors, can keep our teens’ safety and well-being close to our hearts while allowing them the freedom to grow independently and organically.