It gives me never-ending pleasure when I can find something so early in the morning to talk about. I found this little article (posted in its entirety below) through one of the mom's groups I frequent. It was apparently the subject of some debate, though I can't honestly see what for. The article asks pretty simply if it was a good idea for this man to humiliate his son in the manner in which he did.
I answer with a resounding "YES!", but I'll post the article first, and then explain why.
Sometimes the internet surfaces something so completely delightful, we can forgive it for turning us into Googfacetubemail droids. This Facebook update, posted by a dad who came upon his son Chris's profile when the teenager forgot to log off, is just that thing. Here, Shine readers, for your viewing pleasure, the best Facebook update we've ever seen:
In case you can't read it: "To all of Chris' friends: This is his father. My son carelessly left his account logged in [sic] so I decided to snoop around. Upon reading my son's personal information, I would like to clear a few things up. My son is not a "gangsta," he will not "beat a ho's ass" and he will most certainly not "roll a fatty wit his boyz." So for all of those who think he is some hard ass thug, think again...he is Chris _____[redacted], a 15 year old kid that was afraid of the dark untill he was 12 and cried at the end of Marley and Me."
The message is hilarious, obviously, though as a mom (and therefore now forever on the wrong side of cool. Sigh) part of this joke also gives me pause. I hate to be a buzzkill, but....exposing a teenager's obvious personality contrivances and affectations, the 'face' they're putting on to hide deeper problems and insecurities, may feel satisfying in the moment, but it doesn't really seem like the way to help a kid. In fact, it seems alienating and mean. We have no idea if this message was followed up by a sound parenting moment or a great dad-to-son talk (and with talk of rolling fatties at 15, you know, we sort of hope it was) and if it was, well, then maybe this badass Facebook message worked. If not, well...won't Chris just find another forum to discuss being a gangsta and beating ho's butts? One that brings him even further away from his dad?I'll start at the top of the exposition portion of this article. The mother who wrote this article said this sort of treatment toward a teenager seemed "alienating and mean". I personally don't think that it was at all.
Sometimes, the best way to get through to a person is to humiliate them.
It doesn't sound so nice when putting it that way, but it's the God's honest truth. This teenager obviously thought that it was cool to be "gangsta" and undoubtedly he was just saying the things he thought his alleged friends wanted to hear. I highly doubt this is the sort of kid that routinely "beat a ho's ass", but the fact of the matter is this: he shouldn't have sacrificed himself and who he really is JUST to fit in with some crowd.
Look. I know what it's like to be a teenager. We all do; we've been there. It's definitely not easy. There's tremendous pressure to fit in, go with the crowd, to be like everyone else. And if your friends are doing and saying things that you otherwise would balk at? ...well, you just put on a "front" and go along with them.
However, as parents it's our responsibility to help our children-- of ANY age-- to develop their own personality and sense of identity. It shouldn't be gotten from their peers, or social media, or the television. And having grown up under a strict father myself, I don't find that humiliating this teenager was a bad thing at all.
After all, who among us would actually WANT their child walking around saying things like they're going to go "roll a fatty" with their friends and "beat a ho's ass"?
One other thing the woman who wrote the post said got me thinking. She implied that now that the boy had been humiliated by his dad in this fashion that he would just find another outlet for these "gangsta" attitudes and that his father had done the worst thing possible by further alienating his child. I don't find that this is the case at all. One can't even begin to guess as to the nature of the relationship between this father and his son. For all we know, they're the average white-bread American family, going to church on Sundays and eating dinner all together at the table every evening. Of course, they COULD be alienated from each other, too.
Regardless of their personal situation, I feel that it's a parent's business to be involved in their teenager's life, whether they like it or not. Yeah, we parents? We're not "cool" at all. We look at things differently from our children. We're old-fashioned. We're "out of touch". But it's our responsibility that they're raised RIGHT. Not just letting them do whatever they want as soon as they want.
It might suck to be uncool, but it's what we signed on for when we had children in the first place.
I know if my son grew up and started acting "gangsta", I'd put a stop to it immediately, and quite possibly in the same way as this man did with his son! Acting in this manner would in no way be true to his true identity, and would only be a manifestation of his desire to fit in somewhere. Kids are so desperate to be anything that they're NOT in today's day and age, and it's frankly infuriating. They need to learn some pride in who they actually are, not try to fit in so hard that they lose everything that makes them, them.
And as parents it's our JOB to see to it that they don't lose themselves.
I can only hope that by posting that message on Facebook, this wayward teenager managed to lose all his "gangsta" friends. And while the incident was undoubtedly mortifying, this kid will grow up and get over it. There's no doubt that other friends will come along; they always do.
I'm sure this dad will be watching closely when they do, too, just as I will be as my own son grows up.