The Power Tool of Parenting

Have you ever wished that you were more in tune with your children? Had more insight into their needs and not just their wants? There are many times that I wished that I had a crystal ball that would tell me what my kids were thinking. Kids are often difficult to figure out. You ask them a question and you may feel lucky to get more than a shrug, yet they could spend hours on Facebook or their phone if you let them.

Well – guess what…. That crystal ball has magically appeared. It’s called Facebook. In fact, I call it the “Power Tool of Parenting”. What kind of tools does a carpenter use to build a house? In the “olden days” his primary tools were a handsaw, a screwdriver, and a hammer. In our lifetime, the carpenter has upgraded to the more efficient tools of a power saw, an electric screw gun, and a pneumatic nailer. As we build and help our children develop, we also need to upgrade our parenting tools to more efficient power tools as well.

Facebook is one of the most powerful tools available to parents in this decade. I have taken a lot of heat for this statement, but after years of research and experience on Facebook, I deeply believe and stand behind this claim. Here are some powerful ways that Facebook can help you as a parent:

  1. Be More Aware By observing the status updates that your child makes on his Facebook wall, you will have insights into thoughts and feelings that he may not know how to share otherwise. You will also be able to get a feel for his friends and how they interact with each other. This allows you as a parent to be aware of how to better “coach” your child.
  2. Communicate Better Even with my five children that are still living at home as well as those that are not, Facebook provides us another vehicle for communication….. another brick in the building of a strong relationship.
  3. Teach Life SkillsFacebook is our “children’s playground” where they are able to practice and develop real life skills that they will use in their adult world.
    • Leadership Skills Facebook allow teens to create groups, publicize events and generate support for causes.
    • Professional Skills Through using Facebook, our kids learn how to collaborate remotely. This is a vital professional skill for them in the future.
    • Learning Skills Critical thinking and adapting to change are skills that our kids are practicing as evaluate what they post on facebook and how they comment.
    • Identiy Skills This is an important area where parents need to coach their child on how they present themselves to the world.
    • Relationship Skills This last area is more obvious. Facebook is a great venue for practicing relationship skills.
  4. Provide Comfort and Support Facebook is a wonderful tool for supporting our children and publicly acknowledging their successes and providing comfort with their challenges.

Whether or not you like Facebook doesn’t really matter. It is not going away. What does matter is that it is changing the world and society in unexpected ways. As parents, we have the opportunity to direct that change in a positive way in the lives of our children. Are you going to use Facebook as a powerful tool in your parenting tool belt? The choice is yours.

Published on: October 12, 2011
About the Author
Photo of Linda Fogg Phillips

Linda Fogg Phillips is the mother of eight active children ages 13 - 27. She is the founder of Family Health 360 in addition to being the Facebook expert for parents and educators. Linda is featured bi-weekly on Fox and makes frequent guest appearances on ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN.

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