Recently a listing on Ebay has garnered international attention. An angry mother is selling the One Direction tickets she bought for her daughter and her daughter’s friends, in order to punish her daughter for lying and sneaking out.
So far, none of this is particularly objectionable. Where things begin to get interesting is the description she posts along with the tickets for sale.
Let’s deconstruct this listing a little, and point out how this mother’s Ebay communication to her daughter is not a good example of how to discipline your teenager. (Disclaimer: I’m not implying any of our gentle readers would use these parenting tactics, I’m more responding to the enthusiastic support from various people on the internet.)
Don’t insult your teen’s friends. If you have problems with your teen’s friends, express your concerns, but be specific. Saying “I don’t like the way Sheila talked to me last night”, or “It is absolutely not okay for Hunter to prank-call me,” is fine. Referring to peers’ “bitchy faces” is unacceptable. How would you feel if someone spoke that way about your friends?
Don’t demand respect in a disrespectful way. Mixing in a parental request for respect with personal insults is pretty hypocritical. You can respect your teen as a person without respecting certain choices or behaviors they have engaged in.
Don’t discipline your teen in public. Don’t do it in a crowd of people (unless your teen is doing something dangerous that needs to stop immediately). Don’t do it on Facebook. Definitely don’t do it on Ebay. If at all possible, discipline your teen when you, your teen, and any other relevant adult family members are by yourselves. (Also, I’m just going to say from personal experience, try not to do it in the car, because the rest of the car ride is pretty excruciating.)
Don’t lose your temper. I know, that’s really easy to say and hard to do. I can’t think of any parent who has never lost their temper with their teen, so don’t beat yourself up if it happens sometimes! But as we discussed recently, yelling at your teen can backfire. So can writing down anything for the world to see without taking a deep breath and calming down.
Don’t slut-shame your teen. To me, “slut” (or in this instance “trollop”, because this listing in from Australia) is a term that girls in middle and high school use to express their frustration at the contradiction between their own sexual feelings and the mixed messages we give about sexuality and women. This frustration is then vented on an unlucky peer. You may be very upset at the sexual behavior of your teen, but begin the conversation by acknowledging that teens can have very strong sexual feelings, and that’s normal. Then go on to discuss why a particular behavior is dangerous, worrisome, or just a bad idea, and give reasonable consequences (including selling One Direction tickets!)
To me, the sentiment “I’m not your friend. I’m your MOTHER. And I am here to give you the boundaries that YOU NEED to become a functional responsible adult” is (hopefully) the sentiment that has people cheering this mother on. Yes, when you discipline your teen, they might sometimes hate you. You can’t be your teen’s friend all the time. You are there to set boundaries (cooperatively, once your teen is mature enough) to help preserve your teen’s safety and life path.
Any other thoughts on why this listing has become so viral, and so quickly? What do you think of it?