WHAT MY TEENAGE DAUGHTERS TAUGHT ME ABOUT INSTAGRAM, THE BREAKFAST CLUB AND LIFE

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Yes! Parenting is amazing, tough, rewarding, challenging, incredible, invigorating and exhausting all at the same time. Throw in a couple of teenage daughters into the mix, and life is brought to a whole new level.

We teach our children each and every day, but they also teach us!

Many parents complain that the teenage years are rough. And perhaps they are, but I have always believed that within each challenge is a gift. We just need to know where to look for it.

20 lessons from teenage daughters to their mom

I took some time over the past few weeks, as my second daughter, a senior in high school, is preparing to leave the this August, to think about all the gifts I have received by raising two daughters through their teenage years. Narrowing it down was tough, but listed below are the top twenty things that my teenagers have taught me:

20 Lessons From My Teenage Daughters

1. The snooze button, that goes off at least ten times, works for waking up the entire house. So you really never need to purchase an alarm clock.

2. Snapchat filter is the easiest and cheapest way to look 10 years younger. Forgo the Facelift and Makeover!

3. There is such a thing as posting too much or too little on Social Media. Finding the right balance is as important as discovering the best Chinese food restaurant for take out.

4. There is an app for everything.

5. You do not need a date to go to the prom, but you do need to buy your dress months in advance, showcase it to everyone on a specific Facebook group, so nobody shows up wearing the same dress. (Because that is far worse than bad tasting Chinese take out)

6. Starbucks is the new “library” and the best place to study, no matter how loud it gets.

7. Facebook is out, Instagram is in, until Facebook becomes in again, and then Instagram is out. (This can happen all in the same day)

8. The Breakfast Club is still a cool movie.

9. It is ok to follow someone on Instagram, it is not ok to do this in real life. Then it’s called stalking.

10.It is more acceptable to break up with someone face to face, although nobody does it.

11. Actually calling someone as opposed to texting is only acceptable in an emergency and if you are over the age of forty.

12. Coming out is brave, bullying is cowardly, and both of these are always happening somewhere in the United States every day.

13. Where you choose to go to college depends on, but is not limited to: reviews on website, what friends you have met online before you even set foot on campus, what the dress is for football games, if the mascot and school colors are cool.

14. What college chooses you depends upon highest ACT score even if you have taken it ten times, how many extra curricular activities you can jam into one so you don’t have time to breathe, how much you stand out, even though everyone is trying to stand out.

15. Having a family dog is awesome. Cleaning up poop or throw up from the dog – not so much.

16. Popularity still matters, but only to those who are popular.

17. Getting your driver’s license is code for “I will be eating dinner out at Qdoba or Panera at least five times this week” and “I didn’t have time to pick up your dry cleaning.”

18. You do not run to the mailbox to check for large envelopes of college acceptance letters but you do check your email at least ten times a day for a notification that you have been notified.

19. It is no longer a thing to go out in “groups” but is a thing to be in a “group chat.”

20. When teenage daughters are dying to grow up and go off to college , it is the exact moment when they realize all that they will miss and love about home. This is the real definition of having mixed feelings.

 

***This blog post was published as well on Grown and Flown online parenting website, and can be found here, Grown and Flown, where parenting never ends along with other incredible articles on parenting through the high school and college years.

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My Response to my 9-year-old son’s Statement: “Immigrants cause Cancer.”

My latest essay published on Elephant Journal:

 

My Response to my 9-year-old son’s Statement: “Immigrants cause Cancer.”

“Do you want to hear something funny, Mom?”

I glanced at my nine-year-old son, but was also busy fixing my rear-view mirror and adjusting the heat in the car.

Because we were running late for school, I was only half paying attention when he said, “Immigrants cause cancer.”

If I had taken a sip of coffee, I would have spit it out right then.

“Where did you hear that?” I asked, holding my breath. I mean, it could have been a myriad of places—another kid, who heard it from another kid, who heard it from his parents…or the internet, as turned out to be the case. In a YouTube video.

While the video itself is clearly intended to be humorous, I was dumbfounded. I immediately replied to my son, who I adopted from Russia, “Did you know that you are an immigrant?” I paused to let that sink in. “And there are many reasons why that statement is not funny. Let me explain.”

Stunned, my son sat in complete silence.

In that moment, I realized there are so many things a nine-year-old just doesn’t understand. Most children his age are only just trying to grasp the nature of our world, and nowadays, it is right there in front of them to take in. Donald Trump has created the newest form of reality TV—he and his policies are everywhere.

Now, should my nine-year-old be watching YouTube uncensored? Maybe not. Which begs the question, should he even be anywhere within 10 feet of the TV when we are watching CNN, Stephen Colbert, or Saturday Night Live? Because there is hardly a difference anymore.

Technology has brought the outside world into our homes. And a big part of the outside world, at least in America, is “The Donald Trump Show.”

No matter how much we would like to shelter our children so that they can one day create their own objective views of the world when they’re old enough to actually form them based on higher learning, we simply can’t.

As parents, most of us have been sucked into “The Donald Trump Show,” regardless of which side we are on. We toss our opinions around like a pizza, eventually dropping them on the counter, placing some good-tasting stuff on top, and hoping that someone agrees ours is the best one to sink their teeth into.

Politics is everywhere because of Donald Trump. Social media is everywhere, too, and our kids are learning how to navigate the world of technology at a very early age. The combination of these means that our children will hear things that are racist, biased, false, vindictive, and just plain mean. How can we expect our children to act responsibly online if our president won’t even do so? Or if their role models—athletes, movie stars, singers—post Instagram pictures showcasing how good they look in a bathing suit, as if that’s all that matters in life?

Well, we can, if we teach them the value our words and actions carry.

We are not going to change our world overnight, nor are we going to impeach our president anytime soon—and maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe the lessons we are all learning from this are invaluable.

Our children are growing up in the age of technology, and there is really no way around it. We, as parents, need to show them why our words matter. Posting should follow The Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Technology ensures that our words and pictures stay out there for more than a moment—and sometimes forever.

That morning, it didn’t matter that we were late for school. I pulled over to talk about why that video was hurtful. And it was a good lesson.

On my way home, I thought about censoring my son’s time online, which I already do because, well, the whole shorter attention span thing. And the addictive nature of technology. And the “stranger danger” worries. But he is not learning compassion for others from the internet; he is learning it at home. And he is making some mistakes, just as we did growing up (teasing someone without realizing its impact, for instance). Many of us grew into compassionate, responsible adults, and so will our children.

Taking away our children’s social media will just postpone the lessons they will learn. We do not take away the stove so they won’t burn themselves, or the stairs so they won’t trip. They will fall, and they will burn themselves, and they will learn the lesson, hopefully sooner rather than later, that words matter, that what we read online is usually just one person’s opinion, that there are people out there who are unhappy and in pain and lash out with criticisms and judgments online as a result. And there are those in power who have access to Twitter who are able to say whatever they wish to whomever they please.

What we can do, as parents, is teach our children the difference between right and wrong. To slow down and think about the impact their words might have on another. To remember the tenets of mindful speech.

Yes, our words matter, even if our president does not understand this truth. Allowing our children to learn this lesson early will help them become more aware about the nature and importance of responsible posting, texting, tweeting, and commenting. Preventing them access will just keep them in a bubble, which will inevitably burst.

 

 

You can find this essay on Elephant Journal, as well as other thought provoking articles.

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2018/01/my-response-to-my-9-year-old-sons-statement-immigrants-cause-cancer/