Parents, teens and tweens across the world can learn a lesson from Michaela Snyder's story. Michaela, 15, is the daughter of a police sergeant and she is making her story known in an effort to make a positive impact on teens who are tempted by peer pressure.
When Michaela was 12 years old, she grew interested in a boy in her same grade. This crush turned out to be a tragedy that all parents and youngsters should know about. Michaela admits that she was so infatuated with her new boyfriend that she would do just about anything to maintain the relationship.
Oftentimes, tweens and teens lack self confidence and will do unhealthy things for the affection of others. Michaela's boyfriend asked her to send semi-nude pictures from her cell phone. At first, Michaela refused but then felt pressured into sending the pictures as the boy gave her an ultimatum. She had to either send him the salacious shots or he would leave her.
The saddest part about this story is that Michaela's parents thought that she would have been prepared for such a situation. They had spoken with Michaela along with her siblings about peer pressure, sexing, and self confidence. Yet, it wasn't enough. The prospect of being alone was too much for Michaela to take so she gave in, snapped the pictures of herself in her underwear and sent them off to her then-boyfriend.
As you can imagine, things spiraled out of control from here. He asked for more pictures but Michaela didn't oblige. Her mother then found the pictures on Michaela's cell phone. Michaela's father, a police sergeant who routinely investigates sex crimes, paid a visit to the boy's parents.
It was too late.
The pictures had been shared with Michaela's peers and she was being teased in as a result. Michaela is now sharing her story so that other tweens and teens don't have to endure such a terrible experience. Michaela's situation is especially important because she is the daughter of a police sergeant. One would imagine that she'd be the last teen to be caught up in this type of controversy. Yet she was.
Remember, your kids might not want to give into peer pressure but still might do so. Oftentimes, they feel as if they don't have a choice and their social circle represents their entire universe at this stage of their lives. You need to be the guiding force that steers them in the right direction and keeps them out of harm's way. It is imperative for parents to speak with their kids about the dangers of sexting. Tweens and teens are in the midst of a very stressful development phase and it is difficult to not give in to peer pressure.
When speaking with your kids, follow these 4 pieces of advice:
Start off by letting your kids know that you understand how uncomfortable the teen years can be. Tell them that you also felt the weight of peer pressure when you were a teen.
Next, teach your youngster to maintain self confidence. Tell her that her identity isn't defined by how her peers see her. If you can convince your teen to have a high sense of self worth, she'll be less inclined to engage in sexting and other peer pressure induced activities.
If you have a daughter, you need to help her define herself as being something more than merely a body. Teach her to only consider dating boys who will respect her for more than how she looks.
If you have a tween or teen boy, talk to him about respecting girls. Teach him that every girl out there is someone's daughter, someone's grandchild and someone's sister. Boys need to understand that girls shouldn't be treated based on their appearances. While it is easy to forget, no one chose their image and you really can't tell anything about someone by how they look.
While it is tempting to be a helicopter parent and over-involve yourself in your teen's life, this is not necessary. Helicopter parenting will result in your children resenting you and they might go to great lengths to keep secrets from you for years into the future.
Instead, make use of technology like uKnowKids to help keep tabs on your child's digital life.This way, you won't come off as a snooping parent from your child's perspective and you'll stay abreast of how they are using their digital devices to interact with the outside world. uKnowKids will help you prevent your teen or tween from going through the hardships that Michaela Snyder endured.