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Does It Still Take a Village?

It takes a village to raise a child.

We've all heard the old proverb; we may have even said it. Today's issues are so much different than those of the previous generation. Does the old adage still hold true?

My daughter is a sophomore in high school. We're fortunate in that she isn't embarrassed to be seen with her parents, and that her friends feel welcome in our home.  I love that they call me Mom and don't even pay attention to the fact that I'm in a wheelchair. They are quick with hugs when they see me at school or football games, feel comfortable grabbing a snack or a drink at our house, and just overall make themselves at home around us. They are all good kids, very involved in extracurriculars; quite a few of them have even friended me on Facebook.

And therein lies the problem.

The rise of social media and sites like SpouseBUZZ and Facebook have been incredible outlets for military families who previously had to rely on rare phone calls or snail mail. We can now keep in touch with our military tribe more easily and more often than ever before. I typically don't see anything questionable, other than occasional inappropriate language in our facebook circles. Our daughter knows that isn't acceptable within our family and isn't shy about telling friends to take it off or she will unfriend them. I like to keep up with who is dating who, who is going where, the latest lingo and such, so I frequently read their pages. I've never been in a position where I was really uncomfortable with something that a friend had posted until last evening, when I discovered that one of her friends had changed her profile picture. I clicked on her profile and was startled to see a photo of this friend with another girl, fully clothed, but in a suggestive pose together.

My first reaction was, "Oh my gosh. I wonder if (friend's) mom is aware?" I checked and neither of the parents are listed in the girl's friend list, so I assume that they're not aware. Another girl from the kids' school even commented that the photo was inappropriate, and the friend laughingly agreed, but left it on her page nonetheless. Other than letting my daughter know that I find it quite inappropriate and being assured by my daughter that she agreed, I haven't taken any further action. I'm still not sure if I'm doing the right thing.

Another example would be our community pool. Since our base housing is now privatized, the pool is subject to much more relaxed rules than those found at base pools; not only that, there is no lifeguard. I'd be pretty uncomfortable with that if my child was younger, but thankfully it's not an issue for us. I was recently discussing with my neighbor, who has younger kids, about how some of the teens were roughhousing in the pool, acting dangerously about the other kids. She told me that she has no issue with reprimanding them. While I respect her decision to do so, I'm unsure how I would react if I witnessed the same behavior.

On the other hand, I appreciate it when another parent informs me of questionable behavior of my daughter. Recently the mom of one of our daughter's friends stopped by our home, voicing her concern that our daughter had slapped her son in the face while the group of friends was together at a football pool party. Of course her son was embarrassed that his mom told us, and our daughter in turn was embarrassed that she had done it. As it turned out, she was just playing with him and hit him impulsively, not meaning to hit as hard as she had, but it still left a mark. We were of course quite dismayed that our daughter had slapped someone, and the mom assured us that it was okay, she just thought that we should know.

I was quite thankful that the mom mentioned it to me, so that I could discuss with my daughter what had happened, how impulsive actions frequently have consequences, and remind her to always act as though adults that she knows and respects are aware of every action. I think it was a great lesson for her.

So overall, it seems while I absolutely to know what my child is doing, at the same time, I'm not sure that I am comfortable confronting another teen or their parents regarding their actions.

I'm curious to know your feelings. What would you do about the Facebook picture? Do you agree that parents should reprimand other (older) kids if the parents aren't around? Would you want to know from another parent if your child acted inappropriately? Would you tell another parent about their child's actions, or do you figure that it's not your business? Would you feel the same regardless if the child in question was five or fifteen?

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