Facebook as a Parenting Punishment Tool: Good Idea?

BlogHer Original Post

And so, it seems to me Abbott’s decision to publicly discipline her daughter sets a family precedent to be public about their issues. No, actually, technically Ava set the precedent when she first misbehaved online. And then her mother, with an apparent desire to do her daughter one better, followed suit. If the experts are right, that is, the experts who say that modeling proper behavior is the best way to teach children life skills, like discretion and respect, then arguably Abbott’s choice of discipline may have inadvertently reinforced her daughter’s behavior instead of curbed it. It's kind of like spanking a child to punish him for hitting, or screaming at a child for throwing a tantrum. What you actually do as a parent speaks much louder as a directive than what you say, almost without exception.

Rick Morris, author and award-winning educator, says it best: Children “may doubt what you say, but will always believe what you do.” And I have found this be to painfully true in my own family’s culture. All of the things I espouse as a parent, but do not actually do, somehow never get done… by anyone!

On the social media frontier, Facebook alone has in so many ways turned our parenting world upside down. How do we allow our children the freedom to explore such a powerful social tool that we ourselves haven’t really quite mastered yet? And let’s face it, many of us adults do not totally have a handle on Facebook ourselves! If you don’t believe this to be true, just look here and here. Examples of adult social media mismanagement are ever plentiful! So, as much as I admire Denise Abbott’s resolve, creativity and proactive parenting stance, I question whether she’s actually done herself, as parent, and Ava, as child, a good turn by looping her own and her daughter’s Facebook community in on her humiliating lesson. It’s a slippery slope of disclosure I am certain I would not want to open up to the world (not even my own extended family)!

At the end of the day, Abbott’s actions have garnered much more attention than her daughter’s Facebook behavior ever would have. And so between mother and daughter, with regard to using Facebook at each other’s expense, Mom wins… or does she?

author of 24 Things You can Do With Social Media to Help Get Into College, also blogs at Tortured By Teenagers and ThinkActParent.com

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