Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Who's In Charge Here?"

Pop Quiz:  you find out that your kid has put some wildly inappropriate photos on their Facebook stream.  What's the first thing you do?  Followup question, more difficult and worth twice the points:  your kid's friends post wildly inappropriate pictures of themselves with your kid.  What do you do then?

Fascinating article that raises the question, just who is in charge in this kid's life?  What do we teach them about how to handle problems, what does responsibility look and feel like, and what role do we play in their lives, especially as they're about to leave the nest?

The true social implications of this case aren't about the girls' behavior, but the parents'. To what extent are they allowed to impose their values on their kids, and, separately, what is the proper structure to impose these values? 
This popular reading of this case is that the school (i.e. government) doesn't have the right to reach into the private home and control the speech of students, but that evades the important cause of this case: the parents want the government to control the kids because they aren't willing to do it. See? It's not just black kids. Parents all over the U.S. have checked out, can't be bothered and anyway don't really know how to bother. How can I explain to my daughter that this is bad? I know: Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. School Dist. Yeah. That'll show her. 
The way it should have worked is that one concerned mother calls the other mother, and she opens up with, "I just want to bring something to your attention" or "Jesus, do you know what your wenchy daughter is up to?!" and they work it out and stuff gets handled, and if it doesn't it gets kicked to the fathers, who freak out on their daughters and then reluctantly agree to talk to the other father about it and settle it once and for all, and if that doesn't work they can agree to meet in the Woolworth's and Woolco parking lot and punch each other like girls. I recognize this is all quite sexist, but that's the way it should have gone down. That's the way it has always gone down. 
But the parents couldn't handle this as parents, i.e. as the ultimate arbiter of a controversy, because they are not practiced at being the ultimate anything. Stripped of all power as children, and never given either power or responsibility, they drowned in freedom and looked for a practical solution to their existential crisis: everything always has a higher authority. Call the school, call the cops, call the government. The joke used to be, "hey, lady, don't make a federal case out of it!" but that's no longer a joke, it's the preferred method. 
The idiocy of such parents is mind boggling, certainly, but even more compounded by the message that it sends to their own kids: higher authorities always exist for everything. Just not God. That's for stupid people.
Full article here if you're interested.


Jake Shore said...
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Jake Shore said...

I really hope this doesn't represent a significant number of parents because I'll end up in jail on account of all the people I would punch.

My kid would lose ALL rights and privileges at the speed of neutrino for something like that. Then she would go to sleep one night and wake up in a Polish convent.

I think this kind of behavior comes from the marriage of two really bad impulses: (1)Social media as a valid substitute for actual human interaction, and (2)wanting to be a friend rather than a parent to your kids.

Jake Shore said...

Welcome back to the world of blogging by the way.