DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage daughters are obsessed with taking photos of themselves. Just last week, I walked into my backyard to see a bikini photoshoot they were having with each other. They explained that this is all for social media and for likes. I am not comfortable with the amount of time they spend creating an image that isn’t real. Another time, they spent hours doing their makeup on a Sunday, posed against a white wall and edited these photos on their laptops.
Is there any way I can control this situation? I want them to be spending their time learning or adventuring, not staring at screens unnecessarily. -- Stunned on the Sidelines, Raleigh, North Carolina
DEAR STUNNED ON THE SIDELINES: You are not likely to win the battle of getting your daughters off social media. Their behavior is similar to thousands of other teens across the country. You should take a look at some of the social media sites that they like. You will see photo shoots just like what they are doing. This may help to build their confidence. Be sure to monitor what they are posting and where. Talk to your girls about the types of images they are choosing to post. It is important for them to understand that all kinds of people can view social media. Your daughters should think about who they may be attracting. It is your job to make that clear to them. That means scaring them a bit.
In this day and age, sexual predators are a real threat to young women, as is human trafficking. I hate to be so severe, but our world has some negative forces in it, and your daughters must be mindful of being too provocative in their postings. They should never post their address, telephone number or location.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I turned 60 last week. I had a great day and spent it doing what I love, but one thing bothered me -- my own daughter forgot my birthday, while my stepdaughter remembered. She hasn’t been my stepdaughter for a long time (one year), but she managed to get me a present and a card. My own daughter called me yesterday saying that her brother just reminded her she missed my birthday. I know this is simply a single day in a year, but it hurts to know that someone I raised didn’t think to call me to wish me a happy birthday. Should I let this go? I am unsure how to reconcile my feelings. -- Forgotten Father, Las Vegas
DEAR FORGOTTEN FATHER: I understand your hurt feelings, and I’m sorry your daughter did not remember you on your special day. I must ask you, though, how often do you communicate with her? Your stepdaughter is new in your life in that role, so your being “Dad” to her is top of mind. How engaged you are in your relationship with your biological daughter may influence her remembering to contact you on your big day. I’m not making an excuse for her, by the way. I’m just pointing out that family dynamics can be complicated.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)