Saturday, August 20, 2005

How to really get to know your child...

My son, Alan, as a child appeared to be a loner and was not an ordinary child. He was always thinking. His friends probably knew him better than I did. I was often working long hours trying to make a living as a single parent and did not hover over my kids. With his desire to be connected to the computer and with my work, it left little time for us to really know one another. Of course, I 'knew' him---his moods, the importance of his computer and his friends in his life. But he pretty much grew up with little direct guidance other than being reminded that he was responsible for whatever he made of his life due to choices that he made.

It was only after he was on his own and I had left Alaska that I really got to know my son. Emailing was his preferred mode of communication. It could be done on his time. Then with the creation of weblogs, I could follow daily what he was doing, thinking (well, not completely) and what a revelation! I found that we think alike more than two people normally would, have many of the same opinions on life, politics, and religion. Even when he posts the results of some personality or other test and I take the test, we are often categorized the same. Many of his posts remind me that we each are our own person and if we are just honest and true to ourselves, we usually make good humans.

Here are some pointers if reading your adult child's blog.
1) Realize that your job is done and it is no longer your job to guide your child unless you are asked for advice.
2) Be prepared for some shocking revelations. Did you not hide some of what you did and thought from your parents? Many young people today are much more comfortable revealing their innermost thoughts. This may be due to the fact that there is less privacy with the internet. Most younger people have been exposed to this more than their parents and often accept it as normal.
3) Read the blog entries to discover what makes your child unique and make comments on them as you would to an online friend. This does not mean that you cannot voice opinions, but this is the internet and very personal comments may be better left to emails or phone calls.
4) If your child posts entries that disclose what you consider 'family secrets', it is time to realize that this is not your blog, but his blog. He has a right to his feelings and opinions.
5) If you really want to know your child, read and accept whatever your child writes. This gives the signal to your child that you respect who he is.
6) If you find yourself with opposing viewpoints and you must have a place to rant---start your own weblog!

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At 8/23/2005 10:53 AM, Blogger Samantha said...

Son of Sam has a blog as well and he was frighteningly open and honest (?) until he found out I read it ONCE. I told him I'd never read it again but suddenly posts have dropped off. He's the one who told me about it, I just didnt' "run across it" one day. Truly, I don't think my heart could take much more of his blog!

At 8/24/2005 8:30 AM, Blogger Jeanne Rhea said...

Sam, I think I missed a couple of points on that post. (Not to do with your son or mine!) But if a parent runs across a blog where the child is depressed, maybe suicidal, or is headed for some legal problems, there may be instances that a parent should speak to the child. I know many young people use their blogs for very personal reasons and even their postings could be a 'cry for help.'
Send me your son's blog url and I will be an unbiased person to see if you should be worried! haha

At 9/01/2005 9:35 PM, Blogger Samantha said...

And there I am! YAY! Incidentally, it appears you have your "anonymous" problem resolved. Good for you! Thank you for linking to me. If I ever get smart enough to figure it out I'll do the same for your two sites.


At 12/22/2005 1:10 PM, Blogger EC (Lisa) Stewart said...

I agree w/Jeanne. The recent confession of the Florida teenager (on his own blog) who yanked the steering wheel from the driver as a prank (killing a friend and seriously injuring the driver) was caught and has now confessed to his stupidity.


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