I sat at dinner out one night, half-listening to my husband because my attention was on a group of teenage girls at another table. They were snapping photos of each other, checking the screen, nodding in approval or disapproval, and then typing and, presumably, posting on Instagram or Snapchat. I wish they were posing for these photos with big smiles, cheek to cheek, or making silly faces, but no. They had pouty looks and eyes that asked, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” At one point, they got a little too intimate with their straws.
If you have a daughter posting inappropriate pictures, what do you do? If you’re scrolling your feed and (if you have access to her account) come upon a photo that you know is objectifying her body or not showing the self-respect you thought she had, how do you talk to her without pushing her away or causing her to create a fake account? These 7 things will help you handle it the right way.
1. Don’t get hung up on yourself.
First things first, your daughter posting inappropriate pictures isn’t about you, and you’re not alone. There are plenty of mothers whose kids do things they never thought they would. So let go of the guilt and shame. Those feelings won’t help you choose the right tone, words, and attitude with your daughter.
2. Timing is crucial.
Bring it up with her when you’re calm, not right when you come across the photo. Of course, you’ll want photos removed as quickly as possible, but if you confront your daughter when you’re emotional or when she’s on the defensive, you might do more damage than good.
3. Avoid shaming her.
Name-calling, telling her she’s asking for trouble, or saying things like “These photos are disgusting!” are only going to lower her self-esteem. Yes, she’s posting these photos for affirmation from her peers, but your opinion matters to her, too.
4. Be prepared for pushback.
Even if you talk to your daughter at the right time and go in with all the right words, she will probably still defend herself with comments like, “This is nothing. It’s just a little shoulder. I’m not responsible for what other people think.” Try to stay calm. Expect her to try to justify her actions. Even if she knows it’s wrong, she probably won’t admit it at first.
5. Make sure she knows the dangers.
Talk to her about online predators. Even if she knows all her followers and friends, someone could take a screenshot of the photo and share it. If her account isn’t set to private, strangers can take her photo and use it for their own pleasure or profit. Ask Dad to talk to her about the impression she’s giving to boys her age. Your daughter can expect others to treat her body the same way she treats it.Your daughter can expect others to treat her body the same way she treats it. Click To Tweet
6. Get to the heart of the matter.
Ask her what she wants from people (both boys and girls) when she posts a photo like this. Is she looking for attention? At what cost? Ask her what she wants to be known for? Being provocative or being beautiful, inside and out? Use your own words to build her up and remind her of her inner beauty and value.
7. Create a filter for her.
She might ignore this advice, but try giving her some “gut check” questions to filter the photo through before she posts it. What would my dad think? If the wrong person saw this, what might they think about me? What am I saying I think about myself with this photo? Hopefully, the answers will trigger her conscience and help her make better choices.
If all of these steps fail, or you discover your daughter has a fake account that she’s been hiding from you, it’s time for some monitoring software and maybe confiscation of the phone. Here are some great parental control apps that will help you keep tabs on your kids’ online activity.
Have you caught your daughter posting inappropriate pictures? How did you deal with it?