A young mother shares how she thinks she will become the best pal of her daughter, as a digital parent, when she grows up.
The other day, I heard a young mother sharing an experience of her sister’s daughter. The mother of the girl would always keep an eye on her ward’s activities online, checking out her friends’ profiles, so much so that the girl got fed up. She then created a fake id on her social media account while the mother was completely oblivious to it all. This was the id that she used to interact with all her friends online, while the original id was used to update regular status messages and forwards. Just imagine the good laugh that all her friends must have had at the mother’s expense.
It made me wonder, what kind of a digital parent I will turn out to be. Definitely I would want to be a very friendly digital parent, more of a friend than a parent actually, but then that’s easier said than done. We parents are wired as parents only, we think like their protectors, act like their guards and follow them like spies. Any stranger within their earshot is considered a potential enemy. Our antennas go up when we see them shaking hands with someone we don’t know or smiling at others whom we don’t like too much. In such a situation, how can we be friends with our kids? The answer, interestingly, lies in digital parenting itself.
As individuals, we are forever wondering how to put across our point of view to the person in front of us, be it family, friends, relatives or colleagues so that it is all taken in a good sense without offence. As parents, more so. The online world with its wonderful feature of messaging is an excellent way to connect with our kids. When not in front of them, we can always send them a message through scores of apps that allow you to send a message like Viber, Whatsapp, Skype, among others. I feel I can express myself through written words better. When my daughter grows up, I know I will send her all my lovey-dovey thoughts via messages.
Having said that, when in public space like a Facebook wall or a Twitter wall, where others can view her online life, I will occasionally drop in an encouraging message or two. I would not want her to think I am stalking her, but I would sure want to be close to her in her online life. One patronising message and I am sure she will shun me forever from her world. When I would see someone suspicious trying to befriend her or make derogatory remarks, I hope to start the conversation by asking ‘what do you think…’ instead of saying ‘I think you should…’. I will take her out shopping with me and value her opinion when she would suggest me to buy something, just like friends do. I will sometimes crib about things to her, lean on her for advice, just like friends do. I will sometimes share ‘secrets’ (not the troublesome ones) with her, so that she can share her secrets with me. I will be nice to her friends, but maintain a distance so as not to allow the wall of respect come down, just like my mother was with my friends. Just like real life parenting, digital parenting too is like-to each his own. The bottom-line will of course be we all want the best for our kids.
We parents can only be too careful when it comes to our kids. We can plan, plan and plan to be the best parents to the apples of our eye, yet we don’t know what the future has in store for us. We don’t yet what kind of peer pressure they will have, we don’t know what kind of friends they will have, yet we can always do one thing. Prepare ourselves for the future by being friends with them right now, at this very moment.
About the author
Having worked with some of the leading names in the publishing industry, Anu is now an independent editorial consultant. After working for over 11 years, she is now working from home to be able to look after her little girl. When she is not writing (her first love), she is happy cooking, reading and learning nursery rhymes, a new one everyday to keep her toddler entertained and of course taking family vacations.