I remarked to my husband recently how grateful I am that we met before Facebook, iPhones and online dating sites. Falling in love (or like) can be angst-y enough without worrying how quickly someone returns a text, and when it’s ever appropriate to publicly change your relationship status to something as loaded as “It’s Complicated.”
Thinking about my young daughters, I dread the day that they start going online for anything less benign than ABCMouse.com. I have no interest in being the cool mom who lets her kids have carte blanche with technology, but I don’t want to demand their passwords so I can snoop around in their email, either.
I haven’t watched morning TV in years — and certainly not since Regis Philbin bid adieu. But I read about Kelly Ripa from time to time, whether it’s because she’s hanging out with famous friends like the Seinfelds or is photographed looking impossibly thin and toned in a bikini on some fabulous exotic beach.
She’s made me sit up and take notice of her lately, however, not because of her glamorous activities (or abs), but because of her exemplary parenting skills.
A mom of three, Ripa recently spoke to Wendy Williams about her 13-year-old daughter, Lola. She said she’s currently on Lola’s bad side after confiscating her phone and computer after some house and homework rules were violated.
“I don’t think she likes me, but I don’t care,” Ripa said. “I’m like, ‘I’m not your friend! I’m your mom.'”
She also explained how, like me, she appreciates that when she grew up, “there was no social media, no distractions like they have now,” although that doesn’t mean her daughter can hide in plain sight when she goes online.
“My daughter always says she wants more privacy, and I respect that,” Ripa said to People magazine. “I said, ‘If you want to keep a diary instead of Instagram, then you will have privacy. I will not read your diary, but if you’re going to be on Instagram, I’m going to read that, because that’s not private. That is social media.’ That’s how we work it out in our house.”
She calls her parenting style “old-fashioned,” and she says it with pride. It’s not as if our lives were perfect when we were kids (you know, in the olden days). It would seem, though, that Ripa is simply taking what worked from way back then and applying it to more modern times. Whether or not I am conscious of it at all times, I feel as if I try and do the same thing with my kids, which is to pick the best parts of how I remember being parented and pass it down to my kids. I pick my battles, for sure (as evidenced by how they dress themselves every day). My priority is to keep them safe, healthy, and happy, and I firmly believe that all three include physically and emotionally. And that will mean, some day soon, I’m sure, having real discussions and setting serious guidelines about how they can behave online — and how my presence will be required.
I admire that Ripa lets her daughter on sites like Instagram while she makes it known that Lola will not be alone. We all behave better when our parents are in the room (I know I still do). It’s not news that kids need boundaries — and that includes in cyberspace. Letting them know that you’ll be popping in (virtually) from time to time will hopefully remind them to keep it clean.
Celebrities are not role models simply because they’re famous. Ripa is praiseworthy for what she does on TV, sure, but more so for what she does off-camera for the sake of her kids.
Image courtesy of PCNPhotos