WHAT TO SAY TO A DISOBEDIENT TEENAGER
My daughter is 13, going on 17. She’s tall, beautiful, and generously endowed.
Her father and I strictly forbade her to have a Facebook page. Recently I discovered by accident that she had disobeyed us.
Her Facebook “friends” had Facebook friends who were much older and wilder, and she had begun to be exposed to messages that were pretty advanced.
It was disturbing. When I confronted my daughter, she was terrified that her dad would find out. She loves her dad but knows he has an explosive temper.
She begged me not to tell him, so we negotiated. If I don’t tell your dad, what will you do in exchange, I asked.
She offered to shut down her Facebook page and voluntarily give up all text messaging for 6 weeks. (She had been texting scores of times per day.)
I did a quick cost-benefit analysis and agreed not to tell her dad. She kept her part of the bargain and I kept mine. Frankly it helped us bond, and created trust between us. I also learned about the Facebook world–how a child can hide his/her page so that parents aren’t likely to find it.
The other day my husband somehow found out about her Facebook page. “What’s this?” he asked.
I told him, “I know about it, and it’s been taken care of.” He let it go.
In an ideal world, I probably would have told my husband because I don’t like keeping secrets about the kids from him. But I know the players in this game. I took a chance, and it worked.
I let my daughter have a say in deciding her punishment. It’s a lot better than exploding “You’re grounded for 6 months” or doing or saying something else that’s drastic.
Whether you tell your spouse or not, the most important idea I learned is to let your child have a say in deciding the punishment.
–by Clair Hertzog