Parenting Perspective: Lessons from the News

June 10, 2011 11:10:10 AM PDT
I'm sure mine wasn't the only dinner table where the topic of Rep. Anthony Weiner's Twitter scandal was the topic of discussion this week.

Certainly, his having that last name and the fact that my table is very male-dominated contributed to the popularity of the subject. But once the jokes were over (ok, almost over), we were able to turn the discussion into a teachable moment.

Lesson Number One:

There's a reason they're called "private parts." Unless you're in a medical office, I can't think of a single time it's necessary to have photos taken of body parts that are best left clothed in public. In addition to this most recent scandal, there have been many stories over the past few years where photos and videos, some taken in private, intimate moments by consenting adults, have become public. Sometimes relationships end, badly. And photos that seemed romantic at the time can become embarrassing ammunition when one partner wants to humiliate an ex. If those photos or videos don't exist, they can't be made public.

Lesson Number Two:

Everything in cyberspace is accessible. You may think you're sending a private communication. You're not. Twitter, Facebook, even emails, are hackable and traceable. If it's something you don't want EVERYONE to know, don't put it on the web.

Lesson Number Three:

Always consider the consequences. Clearly, what Rep. Weiner did was embarrassing to his wife, a woman he declared his love for less than one year ago. It's certainly can't be good for his political future. It reflects badly on Congress, on his party, and some would say, on men in general. Had he stopped and thought about any of that before taking those photos, maybe he wouldn't have done it. We tell our kids every action and decision has consequences. Unless you're stopping a speeding bullet, it's probabgly a good idea to stop and think about what those might be, for yourself, your future and for those you care about.

Lesson Number Four:

If you're caught, don't lie. It only makes it worse. As parents, we know our children are going to make mistakes. We all make mistakes. But trying to cover up mistakes or bad decisions, or trying to deflect blame ALWAYS backfires. Rep. Weiner knew he took and Tweeted those photos. Yet for a week, he refused to 'fess up. When he finally did, it was too late. Even those who might excuse bad decision-making or just plain stupidity have a tough time defending lying. This scandal has given late-night comedians plenty of fodder for their jokes. But for parents, it can also be an opportunity to teach some important lessons. And I'm glad to report that when I asked Micah if he thought taking a picture of his private parts sounded like a good idea, he said "no."


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