I learned something very simple, very basic, and very important about parenting while on vacation, overseas, these past three weeks. I was being selfish. I have two teenagers who needed their dad, and this three-week trip was an indulgence that wasn’t necessary, was too long, and resulted in my not being there for my older son when he needed me.
As luck would have it, I got sick and we returned a few days early, right as his crisis was in full bloom. Only due to this odd, lucky timing was I able to get down and talk with him, and address his anger and issues. I could support him as he continues to struggle through his teenage hormonal and otherwise raging insanity. In other words–normal teen growth and development.
Sexting, texting, e-mail, Twitter, MySpace, NetFlix, Facebook, formspring (not a mattress company), “smart” phones, iPads, iPods, laptops, etc. That’s the world our kids live in. And, it’s moving faster everyday! Can we trust our kids with social media?
For me, it was a library card, and a book, on a roller-skate, which my friends and I would use to go down the hill where we lived. Oh, we also played a made-up game we called “Mongoose,” in which we hit a ping pong ball back and forth with two books, the object being to do it as long as possible. We had a phone, but its use was limited. TV was only on weekends. And, there were just three networks and not much else.
That just ain’t the world no more! With the recent spat of texting related violent incidents, I’m beginning to question what boundaries we parents should consider for our kids, especially our teens, with these social media devices. My 16-year-old got into a mess of peer trouble with an impolitic facebook post. It was stupid, but not that big a deal. At my urging, he even publicly apologized (and in a well-written, not too self-deprecating fashion – I was impressed).
I hate New Year’s Resolutions. I swore I’d never write one. I misspoke. So, this is going to be a New Year’s Resolutions column, with a twist: it will include both resolutions and wishes. I am going to mix my own personal resolutions and wishes with those I project for others, and the world. In no particular order, herewith my New Year’s Resolutions and wishes:
* I hope for a New Year with true conciliation and dialogue between our political parties and, on a more personal level, between each of us that may differ on a particular political issue. It has gotten way too divisive and angry.
Clichés are clichés because they’re usually true. They say the biggest arguments couples have are over sex, the kids, and money. True? You bet. At least in my house it’s restricted to just one of those – $money$. Maybe I’ll just do future blogs about the other two subjects ‘cause you know I’m lying about money being the only issue we ever have.
But, this time, we did get in a heated argument over $money$. I think that second marriages are more complicated on most levels as each partner does bring more history, more literal baggage, and potentially kids, to the marriage. I brought the baggage of an ugly, angry, costly divorce in which my ex also abandoned my boys. My present wife has often stated that she feels she’s paying for the sins of my ex. And, to some degree, she is right.
I completely love e-mail, as I dislike the phone–cell or hard-line. My former career in showbiz was spent on the phone so now I love the freedom of answering and responding to e-mail whenever I want. However, I am frustrated with e-mail as it is fraught with problems and, as I just read, is rapidly becoming anachronistic as more immediate forms of communication, such as IMs and Twitter, are taking over (among the younger generation specifically).
The thing that I keep on forgetting and can’t seem to learn is how e-mail is not the same as direct dialogue. Subtlety rarely comes across and sarcasm usually is lost. Then, there are the bigger risks when dealing with the opposite gender of being misunderstood and accused of flirting or the like.