hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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October 15, 2013

Be the Goldilocks of social sharing, and other advice for the next generation

(Continued)

Let's dispense with the hyperbole. Let's teach our kids the value of working hard and overcoming obstacles without setting the bar so high they can barely see it. If our daughters want to grow up to be professional baseball players, let’s talk to them about what would have to happen to make that dream a reality, and the things that all of us can do, together, to change the status quo. There’s nothing wrong with being realistic. 

3. "Duty" is not a four-letter word.

Gen X and Gen Y have not been asked to think too much about duty to family, community or country. We’ve been encouraged to think about ourselves. And when we do put duty over our own personal needs or aspirations, it’s not something we crow about, but rather something we admit almost as if we are ashamed. 

Let’s teach our children to honor and celebrate the decision to serve others. Let's raise kids who will say, "Wow, you're awesome" when a friend moves back home to help take care of their sick grandma. Let's make sure they understand that being a society means that people help each other, and not only when it's convenient for them. 

4. Be the Goldilocks of social sharing. 

Gen Y is the first generation raising children in a fully social-networked world. We’re making up the rules as we go along (How much computer time is too much? Should he have a smartphone? Is it OK to check her browser history?) and we've left our own messy trails on the Internet for our horrified children to discover. We're still seeking balance, not only for ourselves, but for our families. 

Some teens post every passing thought or emotion, however raw, profane or hurtful, online for millions to read it, preserved forever. Others share such a Pollyanna version of their lives that they seem like automatons for whom everything is always great, perfect, tidy and beautiful. Still others use social media as a particularly evil means of shaming, embarrassing and shunning their peers. Surely there's some solution here that’s "just right"?

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