How social media will save your relationship with your children

Posted on October 17, 2012

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I swear I'm not your mother

Welcome to this week’s instalment of WTF Wednesday, where both presidential candidates get all their parenting advice, but only one gets his debating advice.

I thought we’d mix it up a bit this week here at Advice Central. As pretty much the only parenting expert on the Internet, I’ve never really thought about visiting other so called “expert” sites like WebMD or Ask Dr. Sears. I assume they just read my stuff and use it to answer their readers’ questions anyway. But this week I thought I’d pop over, you know, just to see what they’re up to and stuff, and to give their website analytics software a page view to get all excited about. I do sometimes feel bad that I’m probably stealing all their customers.

It was a chance to see what they say about those Toni Braxton hiccup things that pregnant women get when their uteruses are messing with them, or whether they’re still recommending potty training before the age of 15 despite my advice to the contrary.

It turns out that WebMD has a list of frequently asked questions. Now, my frequently asked questions usually are things like, ‘How do I get my kid to change their own damn diapers?” or, “Is it OK to tie my child up in the front yard as long as I leave him fresh water?” But they get a lot of weird ones, like, “When should my baby start eating solid foods?” I know, right?

WebMD did have a couple questions on their list that seemed like maybe they’d require some real expertise to tackle, so I thought I’d help them out a bit and provide my insight. The first question is:

My kids are always fighting. How do I deal with sibling rivalry?

First of all, I’ve got to ask why you feel the need to deal with it at all.  They aren’t beating you up. Just like certain drug cartel-run countries, the violence rarely extends to the innocent bystanders.

This behavior among offspring is, in fact, an important adaptive behavior that has evolved over eons to prepare them for eventual life with the co-begetter of their child. Denying your children this important life-skill is leaving them at a substantial disadvantage later in life, and has real downsides for you as well. What’s the likelihood that your son’s family will ever spend a Thanksgiving at your place if his wife kicks his ass every time he suggests maybe, just this once, they should visit you instead of her mother? Ultimately, the decision is yours.

The second question I swiped from the WebMD FAQ is this:

My children are so busy and so am I. How can I find time to stay involved in their lives?

This is a common problem that is easily remedied. We are all busy. Our kids are busy. But have you not heard of social media? Smart phones? Nannycams?

Social media was invented by parents who needed a way to spy on, er, stay involved in their kids’ lives. The whole idea of Facebook is to provide a platform where parents, using false names like “ILuvJustinBeiber”, can keep up with their children’s every move, likes and dislikes. Sure you could have a real conversation and text your child, but you should know that kids these days just download apps that provide standard answers to parents’ texts like, “Yes, mom, I am at my friend’s studying diligently,” or, “Yes, I’ll call you if anything changes,” or, “No, still no boyfriend yet, but I’m gonna wait until I’m married so you don’t have to worry anyway.”

Also, with the modern advancements in camera technology, you no longer have to wait to download the footage from the nannycam in your child’s bedroom just to know what she does in there all day. You can live-stream the video right to your smart phone and check up on your daughter during boring meetings at work. And with the magic of Twitter, you can live-tweet it to all your friends.

So, you see that there are many options for staying connected with your children—and you don’t even have to bother them to do it! And given that you never mentioned whether you kids actually want you to stay involved in their lives, that might be a really good thing.

Problem solved! You’re welcome, WebMD.

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