My thanks to Benjamin Dancer for this guest post. As a mother of two teens, I am happy to learn and share this information as a means to continue to keep updated and aware. There are so many challenges and things to keep on top of with kids in our high-tech world, it’s important to stay vigilant and educated to best guide and protect our kids.
I love Benjamin’s advice in Sexting at School which is so important to remember: “She needs you to be confident in your role. … Jessica loves you, and she knows that you love her. This is universal: the teenager wants desperately to have her independence, and she is terrified of it. Jessica is not aware of the fact that she is conflicted about this. She’s just a kid. As much as she pushes you away, she wants you to be strong, to love her.”
This is a great, quick read written for parent’s of teen daughters. Download the article-length ebook for free.
SEXTING AT SCHOOL by Benjamin Dancer
I’m a high school counselor, which means I work with parents every day who could use a little grace in their lives. Because I’ve made a career out of my work with adolescents, I see as a matter of course what a parent might be seeing for the first time. This includes a long list of unfortunate life events.
As a parent, I have a lot of empathy for other parents. It’s not easy, especially when you’re going through something for the first time. My life, on the other hand, is a little bit like Groundhog Day. In a sense, I’ve never left high school. Every school year I see the same things. Different kids, but the same behavior: alcohol, drugs, tobacco, bullying, kids running away from home, pregnancy and something newer: sexting.
Take an adolescent boy with an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex, which by definition means he is incapable of fully contemplating notions such as consequence; take this teenager raging with sex hormones and give him a tiny device that he will carry with him everywhere, a device capable of sending messages instantly to anybody, anywhere in the world and install a camera in that device. What do you imagine might go wrong?
When you and I were teenagers, we were no less reckless, no less idiotic with our choices, no less eager to use our bodies as grownups. The difference is that our stupidity has been forgotten by history. Back then they didn’t have a massive network of servers positioned strategically across the globe to capture and record, forever, the embarrassment of our adolescent choices.
Over the last seventeen years in my work of mentoring adolescents and partnering with their parents, I’ve seen a lot of parenting styles. I’ve learned some important strategies in dealing with the situations teenagers present–strategies the average parent doesn’t have the time, through repetition, to learn. I feel confident telling you that there are some really good ideas out there. And some really bad ones, too.
Because I’m a writer, it occurred to me to write it down, what I’ve learned over the years. I’m a parent. I know it just as well as you do: we need a little grace in our lives.
Being a mother in the age of smartphones can be an unsettling experience. My article-length ebook, SEXTING AT SCHOOL, is about a teenage girl who got in trouble with the law for sexting at school. The ordeal precipitated an identity crisis for the mother, through which she learned to trust herself and to guide her daughter.
The story I tell is a composite of a dozen mothers and a dozen daughters I’ve work with over the years. After the story is told, I analyze it–elucidating what I believe to be the important parenting considerations.
Here’s the bottom line: you and I are human beings. The behavior of our kids confronts us with ourselves. So the first step, I think, in being a parent is to be kind to yourself. Be kind to yourself so that you can teach your kids to be kind to themselves. Such a simple task can be so much more difficult than it sounds.
Excerpt from SEXTING AT SCHOOL:
“The police called it child pornography. So I understood Nicole’s concern: she wanted to talk to me about her daughter. Jessica was fourteen and three years younger than her boyfriend. He had been distributing images of Jessica through his phone. Nicole was worried; she was scared, and understandably so. Jessica still thought she was in love.”
SEXTING AT SCHOOL is a FREE download at Goodreads.com
Or if you’re feeling generous, you can buy it for $0.99 at Amazon.com
About Benjamin Dancer:
Benjamin is a high school counselor at Jefferson County Open School where he has made a career out of mentoring young people as they come of age. He wrote the novels PATRIARCH RUN, IN SIGHT OF THE SUN and FIDELITY. He also writes about parenting and education. You can learn more at BenjaminDancer.com
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