They say “Don’t Mess with Texas,” but thanks to a recent blog post that has so many parents buzzing, it’s more like, “Don’t Mess with This Texas Mom.”
Kimberly Hall, the director of women’s ministry at All Saints Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas, posted an open letter called “FYI (if you’re a teenage girl)” on her blog, “Given Breath,” on Sept. 3, asking female friends of her three teenage sons to stop sending sexy photos on social media.
As she explains it, her family “sat around the dining room table and looked through the summer’s social media photos … Wow – you sure took a bunch of selfies in your skimpy pj’s this summer!”
She wrote, warning, “There are no second chances with pics like that, ladies. We have a zero tolerance policy. I know, so lame. But if you want to stay friendly with our sons online, you’ll have to keep your clothes on, and your posts decent. If you post a sexual selfie – or link to an inappropriate YouTube video – even once – it’s curtains.”
The blog is sparking debate online, questioning how much a parent should manage their teens on social on media.
“I don’t think she’s being reasonable,” wrote one commenter.
“We all did stupid things when we were younger,” chimed in another.
Parenting expert Tammy Gold explains how to help teens make better choices.
“On the whole, it’s a good message,” she said. It’s showing a mom who’s involved, who’s involved watching social media, and someone who’s saying let’s have some teenage self-respect, both boys and girls.”
However, Gold does have one problem with the message.
“My problem is the developmental piece,” she explained. “The developmental age of a teenager is where they figure out who they are. Psychologically it’s called ‘ego identity’ versus ‘role confusion.’ Who am I and what I should do. And the goal of the parent is to guide them, not make the decisions for them. By blocking them, she’s kind of stunting the developmental process.”
On Hall’s blog, she says, “If you are friends with a Hall boy on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, then you are friends with the whole Hall family.”
California mom Diana Wegner, 54, agrees with Hall’s mission, even going a step further than she does, by monitoring her 17-year-old son’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, even his cell phone for more than three years.
“I wouldn’t say extreme, like we’re standing over him,” said Wegner, of Burbank. “He does have freedom and privacy, but we do try to help him understand that it’s a dangerous world and we just want him to be safe.”