Steve and I watched Ryan Lochte and the asshole from Stanford this summer with a great deal of concern. Those privileged, good looking, talented boys/men are very much like the kids in our town. We desperately don’t want our kid to be a “bro” – a partying kid who thinks the rules don’t apply to him. But how do you counteract the general culture that they swim in it all day long.
Jonah got in trouble a couple of weeks ago. It was a relatively minor infraction, but it required a real punishment. He was grounded and his phone taken away. We then read every instagram note, snapchat story, and text message on his phone. Wow, he swims in dangerous waters.
He, like all the teens in town, are “friends” with hundreds of other kids. Kids he doesn’t even really know. These “friends” post pictures and videos of their parties gleefully recording every shotgun, every pong game, every blurry eyed drunk face. Idiots. And it’s not just the skateboarding, shop class kid. It’s the AP honors kid, the going to Harvard kid, the marching band kid.
And then a friend who has two teenage daughters warned me that I needed to watch out for the girls now that Jonah got so cute over the summer. She said that I would have to be careful, because girls would start launching themselves in his direction. So, we had lots of talks about all this over the weekend, but would I be a terrible feminist, if I asked the parents of girls to talk with their daughters about this, too? Perhaps teenage girls shouldn’t give themselves nicknames on their finsta-accounts that call themselves “hoes.”
Another parent in town was so dismayed by his kid’s behavior and the general culture of the town that he made his kid drop out of school and join the military. That seems a bit extreme. The parents who put their kids in fancy Catholic schools in the area say that the same problems exist there, too. In fact, the private kids are even worse, because their parents go away to Thailand for two weeks and leave the kids alone in their McMansions with an unlocked liquor cabinet.
As much as we would like, we can’t wrap our kids in cotton and lock them in their room until 25. How do you parent properly, when other parents aren’t? When other parents buy the booze for the kids? How does a kid make good choices, when he lives in a world where everybody else is making bad choices? Should we move to a cabin in the woods until everybody else grows up? Tell me, readers.