Could you do it? If your kids distribute inappropriate pictures through their social media, could you confiscate their phones and “shut down their Twitter and Facebook accounts and test them randomly for drugs and alcohol?”
Psychiatrist Keith Ablow of Fox News says parents should not only take those steps, but if kids fail drug/alcohol tests they should be “grounded for a month.” And, folks, he goes so far as to say “every one of the teenagers directly involved should be in psychotherapy.” (See http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/03/22/pull-plug-on-naked-twitter-teens/?intcmp=features).
His recommended courage most likely provokes a parental gasp. Rarely does anyone, anymore, express this kind of outrage. Acceptance is the politically correct tend among adults: “Kids will be kids” and “Let them get it out of their system.”
I’d add one more step to the doctor’s prescription. Place two more people on the psychotherapist couch: the parents.
They will either need therapy because they’re in shock that their well-managed children would so misbehave and willfully embarrass the family name, or because the parents are enablers.
Ablow talks about “ego” satiation when the young (never mind the old who are even worse) expose private, shocking behavior for all to see. Ego is a given, but there are larger problems in extreme behavior. He says, “It is no longer news that sex (and, to a lesser extent, showcasing bodily functions like urination) has become the ready antidote to feelings of depression and boredom.”
How did we get here? I’m old enough to have watched the toppling of dignity, propriety and modesty in the ’60s and ’70s, all replaced by unrestricted expression. But without the Internet, such behavior was somewhat contained.
Today, it’s a free for all (Miley Cyrus, case in point). Kids see and do, and are headed right over the cliff.
Does it matter? Depends on how we see the bigger picture.
When respect of the simple things is deleted from the values column, then stabilizing character doesn’t have a chance. There’s a saying regarding money: When we take care of the pennies, the dollars take care of themselves.
Same truth applies to moral stability.
Decorum within society begins with the small things and starts early at home. Inside the home is where kids learn to respect their bodies and the body’s functions. Where each sex learns the value of his/her journey. Where modesty on all levels is imprinted and the extreme power of words to help or harm is respected. Each other’s private space is honored, and mom and dad are the role models in regards to personal behavior. Where responsibility is taught and children understand why it makes sense to develop protective, living practices.
Even then, they are at high risk. Just outside their doors awaits indulgent sexualization infectivity.
The home remains the last and the first when it comes to giving kids a chance in regards to character development and protection from exploitation.
But, tragically, we know the home is also in meltdown. Hmm. Most definitely the product of the ’60s and ’70s.
Ablow tops off his warning with this: “We are in the middle of a worsening epidemic of psychological illness — with elements of narcissism, substance abuse and disinhibition — fueled by the likes of Twitter and Facebook.”
He warns our children are at risk. “The epidemic is real.”
The good doctor’s prescription offers parents a starting place. But parents’ hearts must be in it. Without conviction, hard line discipline will go soft. What won’t work for sure, though, is a shrug and a blink. Our kids need our help. Are we tough enough?
• East Valley resident Linda Turley-Hansen is a syndicated columnist and former veteran Phoenix TV anchor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.