What to do about Teen's Behavior on MySpace
- 2007 17 Jan
Dear Dr. David:
Recently a friend of mine told me that my daughter had a listing on My Space. When I went to find the listing, I was shocked to discover that my daughter, who is thirteen years old, had listed her age as sixteen. To add to my anger, my daughter not only lied about her age, but had vulgar language and pictures of friends that were disgusting. When I confronted my daughter about this, she lied to me, trying to justify her actions. We got into a major argument, and my daughter never did see my point of view.
How can My Space exist with bad language and no controls over the input? How can I protect my daughter, or should children be allowed to participate in these unsupervised activities? What are parents supposed to do when their kids lie and sneak around behind our backs? Is there anything we can do to encourage our children to be honest, and to stay away from places that are dangerous to them? ~ Anxious Parent
First, there is no justification on your daughter’s part for lying about her age, or presenting herself in a false way on My Space. There is also no excuse for lying to you about it and doing this behind your back. It is important that your daughter understand, and respect your boundaries, one of which is absolute honesty.
Why might she have lied? Our children often lie to us when they feel threatened. Have you done everything in your power to promote an open and honest relationship with your daughter? Communication is something practiced everyday, not just in times of crisis.
In regards to My Space, I’m not convinced that it is the incredibly dangerous place some make it out to be. Are there dangers to be considered? Of course. These dangers, however, and the risks of My Space, can be minimized by talking to your daughter about the site, and her activities on it. Let her know that you’ll be monitoring her activities occasionally. As her parent, you do have the right and responsibility to know what she's up to on the web.
Does your daughter’s lying about her age suggest a problem? Yes. What is critical is that you talk openly with your daughter about her motivations for doing what she did. It is imperative that you develop a relationship where your daughter can be candid with you about her desires, and that you and she discuss appropriate avenues for her to pursue friendships.
Most adolescents are desperately seeking peer approval, and these web sites, along with other outlets, are ways they have chosen to gather. Teens will always find a way to meet one another, and the Internet is not going away. What parents can do is understand these drives, maintain an open relationship with our kids so they can talk about what they’re doing, and not be shocked when they, at times, do things to circumvent the rules.
One way to curb time spent online is through developing healthy, local friendships in the community. I’ve been impressed in recent years with churches and community groups that provide healthy opportunities for our teens. Churches that create spaces that are relevant to our youth will help in averting the trend for them to seek alternative places to gather.
Finally, there is no shortcut for inoculating our youth with The Truth. Many parents can take refuge in the scripture, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22: 6) There is comfort in knowing that at times parents must simply fasten their seatbelt, and trust the Lord to bring our children through these tumultuous times. Believe that He will do that for you and your children.
Dear Dr. David:
I once heard a message about husbands complaining about there wives gaining weight. His answer was to buy your wife a membership to the gym and watch the kids so she can go! As a wife and mother of several children, yes I do have a hard time with males telling us to just “lose weight!” Men have never experienced having a baby attached to them for nine months that causes you to crave everything but the kitchen sink while taking sixteen hours of pain equivalent to being ran over by a “Mac” truck to “deliver” them into the world and then having to attach them to your breast for another year or two. All of these activities including having a monthly cycle, causes us to “crave” to replenish our bodies. Not to mention that we start out with more fat cells than you guys do in the first place! Give us a break guys! ~ Also Disappointed
You are not alone in your sentiments. Many women believe men are too shallow in their concerns about their wives’ weight. Many women believe, as you do, that men don’t fully appreciate what they’ve been through, with child-bearing, raising children, and often working a job, to try to stay fit. Many believe men should not be so visually oriented, and should not place so much emphasis on how their wives look, especially when it comes to weight.
I would love to hear from others on this topic, but let’s be fair. Let’s sound off from both men, and women’s standpoint. The question is this: Should we, as husbands or wives, be concerned about how our mate looks, or should our love be unconditional? I’ll share the responses with our Crosswalk readers.
Do you need sound, Biblically-based advice on an issue in your marriage or family? Dr. David will address two questions from Crosswalk readers in each weekly column. Submit your question to him at TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com
David Hawkins, Pd.D., has worked with couples and families to improve the quality of their lives by resolving personal issues for the last 30 years. He is the author of over 18 books, including Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage, Saying It So He'll Listen, and When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You. His newest books are titled The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Healing a Hurting Relationship and The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Living Beyond Guilt. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.