Disappointed in DD and feel It's my fault.(55 Posts)
I check my dd's (13) phone now and again. She has always promised to not to upload photos of herself on Instagram. Not only has she started to do this but they are provocative poses in tiny tops, teeny dresses. I was hoping that she would have more self respect and avoid this, in favour of building a healthy self esteem by nurturing her intelligence or sporting achievements. I work in a school and see that she is more like the shallow vain girls who often get into trouble.
We are very very close and I love her dearly but am struggling to accept this side of her.
I will talk about these images and the way she wants to present herself. Is there anything else I can do? Is there anyone whose DD has not gone down this social media path? I feel like I have failed in some way and she is seeking validation because of low self esteem.
Mine (y9) hasn't, but I dont think that is helpful! Unfortunately this is the world young people are exposed to and teenagers in particular just what to assimilate. Have the chat and keep checking her phone - this is part of navigating the minefield that is growing up.
It’s tricky - does she have low self esteem? I only ask because although I am middle ages now, I can totally imagine that I would have uploaded pictures of myself as a teen, not because I had low self esteem but because I was pretty and thin and a bit of a show off.
Equally if my parents had said “think about how you’re putting yourself out there, you have lots more going for you” and also made me think about future employers, I probably would have stopped. All I mean is, it isn’t a sign of some huge character defect, sometimes it’s just a girl showing off and liking people saying she’s pretty.
What Ozgirl said. Your daughter was dressed, op, what's the problem? I'm sure there is a lot more about her than just looking good but there's nothing wrong in having the confidence to know you look good.
I am very conscious of keeping watch with my own DD of same age. I look at many of her school mates who are posing provocatively in bikinis, teeny dresses or crop tops. It is all about copying the celebs, trying to fit in isn’t it? It is hard to build the self esteem issues when the stereotypes are all about ‘showing off your best side’.
It is one thing taking pics pulling these poses for fun among a small group of friends. Pics to laugh over but not distribute. putting them on line is a completely different thing even though privacy might be set up properly. I make sure the girls she takes muck around shots with know not to put them on line even untagged.
My DD is quite aware of this culture on insta too. I have been talking to her about the fakeness of an insta/fb. About how people have developed mental health issues on both sides. Those who spend hours ‘getting the right shot or look’ and needing that dopamine hit from getting likes and the lengths they go to get them. (and these kids are starting early) And those who feel they never measure up. She gets it.
At school she feels like she never fits in because she doesn’t fit the stereotypes. And of course there is all the gender specific issues that come with that. I think self esteem is so very hard to build and maintain.
Also, I would also check the ‘stories’ on Instagram as the term girls I know use mostly that now too. They also post a pic but delete it within a day or two so there is only one or two old ones up. (If you miss it you don’t know it’s been up mum) But you probably know this working at the school.
I would say blaming yourself isn’t going to help either of you from my experience . This culture is so pervasive now because Instagram and fb means anyone with a phone can copy the famous people getting attention.
Perhaps keep focusing on building that esteem other ways as you are now. Definitely keeping the discussion going is imperative. Particularly about mental health and the need for ‘insta’ validation which I am sure you are doing too.
You are certainly not the only one. I share your worry and many other parents do too. I am watching this thread with interest too.
Perhaps it's not a "side of her" - rather, it's a phase.
You haven't done anything wrong OP. Some girls do these things, some don't. I don't think it's anything to do with the way she's been raised.
Girls can be pretty and smart - they're not mutually exclusive.
The only thing I would say, though, is why are you buying her clothes you don't feel comfortable seeing her in? At 13 she's old enough to make her own choices but young enough for you to put your foot down if she picks something inappropriate.
There are other issues that start creeping in with posting images on SM that aren’t just about ‘looking good’. I am sure you are probably aware of it if you have teenagers at the moment. Or maybe you aren’t aware.
That is without even talking about the inappropriate attention and grooming aspects.
I am sure working at a school OP has seen many of these issues when it becomes about more that looking good. So is working to make sure her DD has a healthy and fun relationship with SM.
I have a 12yo DD and I think perhaps you are expecting a bit too much of your DD. I think you need to recognise that a blanket rule of "don't upload any pictures to social media" is, while sensible, a strict rule. You are expecting her to be different to the vast majority of her peers - that's a tough ask for a teen!
I'm a feminist btw, and I want my DD to value herself for her intelligence and her sporting achievements just like you say - and I believe that she does - she's very bright and hard working and plays lots of sport. But I don't think this is incompatible with this behaviour. (Obviously, if she was topless in the photos my answer would be different!)
Where is she getting the clothes from? And why is it okay to wear teeny clothes in RL but then not post photos on Instagram with them? Your SM messages are confusing
I think internet use (Youtube mostly) and social media is far more detrimental to mental health of teens than society thinks. Suicide and self harm ideation at the worst of it, and vanity selfies and narcissism at best. My nearly 13 year old is not allowed any unsupervised internet access at all after some dark thinks I found being targeted towards her last year. The things I see her friends posting keep me up at night. We have a teen mental health crisis and more parents need to be proactive with these issues and say no to social media/smartphones to children.
I just want to chip in and say that any parent of kids 8-12 that hasn’t read Teen Brain by David Gillespie should read it. He explains exactly why social media is addictive to girls (in particular) and how SM use sets up neural pathways for life. It’s scary stuff and as parents we need to understand it.
For a start I wouldn't be telling her your disappointed and I wouldn't be so harsh about it, that's only going to push her further down that path. She's only doing what she sees daily, I agree it's a sad reality.
Sit her down, explain about grooming and the seedy side to the internet, about revenge porn (its worth warning her just incase) don't sugar coat it, tell her the truth and hopefully the reality will help her make better choices.
My teen children do not use SM to post photographs of themselves. They do use it, but post photographs without people.
But then I never posted pictures of them either. I thought if I told them don’t post pictures of yourself, it’s not safe it would be hypocritical of me to have posted pictures of them from baby times on.
It would have been a “do as I say, not as I do” situation. Since it is a “do as I do because of good reasons” I have not had any issues.
Who can see these photos? Does she have a closed account so only her friends can see them, and do you keep an eye on her friends list? To me this is more important than the photos themselves.
My daughters 14 and doesn't have any social media at all but she is definitely in the minority. One of her friends who's lovely post theses pictures but is nothing like that in real life and spends her life in hoodies and leggings. I suspect your girl is just trying to fit in which is what most teenagers want to do but I can completely get why you're not happy with this. I would explain to her why your not happy with this and try to come to some kind of compromise that you're both ok with. My son has a private instagram account but he is friends with his dad on it and it's checked everyday, he knows how we feel about it so he will delete things himself if his mates put anything inappropriate on
Your daughter was dressed, op, what's the problem?
Seriously? You think provocative poses are fine as she had some clothing on? Blimey you're naive.
Thank you for the messages. I will definitely read that book.
Amithough They are her t-shirts she has tied a knot in or friends clothes or in a changing room in a clothes shop. She does understand and accepts there is a compromise to be had over clothing, she is still very amenable but she has obviously learnt how to get round this by adapting her own clothes or using someone else's.
I think you are both BU and NBU.
I think you are Bu to be focusing on her clothing choices and poses. The only way she can learn that it’s her body and her choice what she does with it, is if you teach her that and treat her that way.
What would worry me about social media is the exposure to other people who may bully, criticize, cajole, or pressure her into behaving in ways she shouldn’t. It opens up a world of criticism which is not usually available in day to day interactions.
Sorry I know this is Chat, I wasn’t intending to turn it into an AIBU slagging fest, just used BU/NBU as a figure of speech.
Firstly it's not your fault! Secondly don't be too disappointed with your daughter. It's a hard world to grow up in with social media and trying to fit in.
I would speak to her and discuss both your boundaries. She wants to put photos up - ok but they need strict privacy controls and no provocative poses/clothes. I think a complete ban will just see her hiding it all from you.
My ds says no one talks about the positives of social media. This doesn't apply to provocative poses though!
I work in a school and see that she is more like the shallow vain girls who often get into trouble
Here's a crazy thought. Maybe that's because those "shallow vain girls who often get into trouble" are also ordinary kids with parents who care about them and sometimes wonder if they've got it wrong. Rather than some other species.
I think part of the issue though is that there is still a competitive edge to the getting of followers even with privacy settings. My DD talks about her friends doing ‘shout outs’ to get more followers so they get friend requests.
SM can be positive. But it really has many real negatives so I guess that is what is talked about. We are only beginning to understand impacts on kids using it the new era. I have noticed myself as a heavy SM user for work, the powerful influencer era that has built in past three years.
Mine is not allowed to post selfie images with her face for privacy reasons. After seeing selfie after selfie from her friends, that selfie pull was so strong but she then got bored of their posts and is more interested in other types. Her friends still do though. OP maybe the shine will wear off with her as well.
I find hilarious pics of her pulling duck faces on my phone where she leaves little surprises. So she gets the opportunity to pose all right!!!
I agree with others that the clothes and even the photos are not the problem, social media is always potentially problematic at this age though. It does depend how 'locked down' her account is in terms of privacy and how many friends she has on there. Hopefully no strangers.
I remember being between 13-16 and wanting to flaunt my body more. I felt like I was changing from a child into a young woman and I wanted people to see that. Being in frumpy, baggy school uniform all day, especially as I was very petite and slim, made me feel shapeless and childlike. I was very keen to wear tighter fitting clothes when I wasn't in school uniform, so that people could see the 'real me' and so that I could feel stylish and have more of a visible identity. I took photos of myself and shared them with my friends on MySpace or whatever we were mainly using back then - I forget now! (Early 2000s)
It's not that I wanted to do it to attract men or anything sexual. It's hard to explain but I'm sure those feelings are normal at that age. I am not generally a superficial person but the teenage years are probably the peak time for being shallow and appearance-oriented. So I think it's not a reflection on her on your daughter's personality as a whole that she wants to do these things.
I have teen girls.
We had a rule back when we first started out with the phones and SM, no photos of themselves are to be posted full stop. They can post pictures of cats, dogs, sunsets, slime and all the rest, but the rule number one is that you do not compromise yourself (and future online)
In fact, my dds were keen not to do this when we discussed how the photos can be used, who could be looking at them (middle aged men pretending to be girls) and what was today's great idea, is often tomorrow's total cringe. I showed them photos of my teen years, dreadful outfits and awful hair, and mean girl faces and asked them if I had posted them on line would this now be a good look? It was empathetic no.
So we used the grandparent/headteacher rule with every single thing we post, if they would not like it, it does not get posted, that is the case for everything inc messages.
The girls self police now, they are incredibly protective over their own privacy. The problem is if your dd is posting any kind of photo even among her own circle it can still end up being used by anyone.
I check their phones a lot, and I check what is happening on all SM sites often so I am aware of what my children are doing. It is an agreement we have if they are to use their phones.
Educating her about the use of her photos, what it will do to her job prospects and what her teachers will think when they see it in a gentle and open way. Ask her questions about it. Send her a photo of you dressed up in a crop top and short skirt and ask what message she gets from that photo? Delete afterwards!!
Also introducing other role models to her, stepping up her sports and activities so she has less time to get made up and dress up, and generally being very conscious that it is most likely a phase anyway, and she is just working out who she is.
If you think of it in context of 'playing' with her image a little like a doll, rather than anything sexual, and I am certain she is just trying out new things - then it changes the way you see the photos and her actions. She is still just a child. That is not to say you allow her to continue to post, why not compromise that she can take the photos, but she keeps them stored in a file on her phone and doesn't post them.
It is the posting of the photos rather than the photos themselves I should think are causing you the most worry, so put some boundaries around the posting is what I would do.
A child dressing inappropriately on social media isn't on,I'd put a stop to that straight away.
Instagram is the one app my kids have never been allowed to have. The more I hear about it the more awful it sounds. Bullying, suicide incitement, semi-naked teens. Apparently it also has a positive side but I just can’t let those things go. This was purely by chance because there was a horrible bullying incident involving the app at the dc’s primary school so I made a snap decision based on that.
Difficult to take it away from your dd though as she already has it and it must be difficult for you DD to understand how inappropriate her photos are. You need to be firm and talk to her about thinking for herself, not copying what everyone else is doing, self-respect, etc.
I wouldn’t try and tackle the way she is dressing in those photos. She is more like,oh to rebel against it on the ground that you are just old and don’t understand (yes I do have teenagers too!)
But I would do my best to boost her self confidence and how she sees herself. I suspect those attitudes are often more to do with a sense of insecurity (and a way to make yourself feel good) than with the fact that in her value system, looking good and being vain is the right way to live your life iyswim.
So encourage her in her sporting activities. Talk to her about her body, not in a ‘wow you look good/beautiful etc...’ but in a ‘wow have you see what your body can do! How heathy you are etc...’
It’s nit about you having failed in some ways. And it’s not about her having develop a superficial personality. It’s About her been a teenager who is feeling insecure and is looking for ways to get positive feedback from people.
There's an underlying value system in your posts that's making me very uncomfortable. You seem very black and white as though you're either a girl focused on academic achievement and sports OR you're a girl who is vain and posts photos on social media.
RL isn't like that.
I think creating that false dichotomy is going to create problems for your DD. She can care about her appearance and be smart. She can be valued as a rounded person.
It's a struggle when your DCs aren't mini-me's but you need to accept that. If you're allowing her to use insta (I don't let DS use it because he's too young and it's just another channel for potential bullying in my view) then you both need to agree rules ie locked account, what shots are acceptable. That involves spending time looking at pics and explaining why you think one is acceptable and one isn't. She needs to understand the logic not just the rules imo.
Oof, you have to be careful here.
Your tone of 'oh, how disappointing, she's one of those girls' got right on my teenage self's wick.
I did sports, and was top of the year in many subjects. No problem with behaviour. I still wanted to be cool, well dressed and popular as well. I really hated being presented as a choice between the two.
And I really, REALLY hated that my mum would stamp down on things like that, giving me no licence or trust at all - controlling those things really is the good girl's punishment.
Be wary of telling her that as a girl, she needs to change herself, fit into an acceptable mould. That doesn't help ANY of us.
She needs to stay safe, be resilient, and be herself. Don't shut yourself off from her by making your 'disappointment' clear.
DS 15 did a Google search on himself recently. Photos from 10 years ago were the first result (a sports comp, local press) which stunned him. Was a reality check about how you have almost zero control over your digital footprint so think about what you add to it.
For your DD just keep the conversation going. Sit and watch Hidden Figures film together it's brilliant.
cats why do you think it had to be a choice between the two when you were a teen? Do you still think it?
And why does dressing ‘well’ for a 13 yr old need to be revealing clothes? And you would have hated and felt disrespected by your mum for saying that your clothes may be too revealing at that age???
It's not always a reflection of low self esteem or sexualising themselves. It's simply that they see it all around them so they do it. When I was there she I saw freaking Bay City Rollers and Farah Fawcett so I wore shit ugly clothes and flicked the hell out of my hair. But if what I saw was pouting and abs, I would no doubt have done the same. So please don't beat yourself up. Talk with her about how the images might seem normal to her but you are concerned because to the wider audience, they are sexualised and inappropriate. Perhaps suggest she modifies slightly so she errs on the less revealing end of the spectrum. Less flesh.
OP you seem to see girls who post photos of themselves on Instagram as rather one dimensional, vain and shallow. No one is one dimensional and these groups are not made of clones, they are all individual.
You might not want her to post these photos and that is fine but it doesn’t change her whole personality.
I never said (or intended) that I thought that way. I was academic and sporty, but wanted to dress in cute clothes too.
As for 'dressing well' - well, at the grand old age of 30 I'm technically an old fart now, but I do know that crop tops are THE THING right now. Especially with the vogue for fitness (which is better than one for thinness).
When I was 13, there was a vogue for lycra tops with a little slit at the top. I was an early developer, and even though the slit was too small to show anything, these tops definitely made my boobs stand out.
But I wasn't trying to be sexy, have sex, or do anything that harmed anyone else - so to be told off over something I had no control over felt very much like a punishment for the non-existent crime of not growing or dressing to match my 'academic sporty' niche.
Cats and spotlight it's always hard to come across as anything but black and white in posts as you want to just sum up the problem, hoping people can read between the lines. I've worked with teens for well over a decade. I know that it is a very complex issue to unpick. Some teens are just more self centred and others more interested in the wider world and issues.
I know I have to accept that my daughter is more interested in her appearance at the moment than doing a charity bake, for example and this is where I wonder if it is my fault. Have I been to busy with life to nurture the more caring, outward looking teen that I see so many examples of at school? Teens do have a bad press. I have spent my whole career working with them.
My post is based on the fear that the girls who post these images the most are also the ones who get into trouble. I suppose I'm saying that those who are influenced by peer pressure to look a certain way will also cave in to the peer pressure of behaving a certain way. I see it all the time. I'm not saying that a girl can't be sporty, work hard and do this, as my daughter and her friends are all testament to this but I just find it hard to accept this side when I see lots of girls at school who don't feel the need to go down this path because of a)parental restrictions b) personality c) more secure with who they are.
In case you wonder how I know, I talk about social media a lot with the teens and obviously see my daughter's feed.
Cats this is why I am asking for advice on here as I want to maintain our strong and open relationship and I don't want to alienate her. I believe it's my job to nurture and steer her gently in the right direction. Her behaviour isn't perfect at school as she gravitates towards the cool kids despite being well behaved at home, so I guess I'm worried that she's impressionable and is there anything I can do apart from open dialogue?
For those with teenage children who have offered perspective and advice, thank you. I am taking it all on board.
cats Thanks for explaining it.
I was academic and sporty and still 'dressed up' but still not in revealing clothes, but I am over 40 and thought I missed something.
Yes, crop tops are 'the thing' but you can get ones that are not that short and team it as my DD does with high waisted shorts/jeans/skirts. You can still wear fashion items without the clothes being revealing as I am sure you are aware.
I certainly get what you are saying though about body shape and fashion. I can imagine why you felt this way with the tops. They can be a tricky thing to navigate for early developers. They are a tricky enough thing to navigate for me as I often don't fill them out and they gape open.
I think insta may be becoming the flashpoint that's highlighting your other concerns. I relate to your worry about whether DCs are kind enough, caring enough, grateful enough, etc. I worry about my DC being followers rather than leaders, about them being naive and too trusting. SM can crystallise some of those fears. Addressing those deep-rooted questions about who our DCs are becoming isn't really about an online photo.
Has she always gravitated toward the 'cool' kids? Mine did for a few years pre teen, but found that she did not fit into their stereotype. Still is 'friendly' but felt ostracised so found new friends each time. Do you think this might happen or do you think that she will shape herself to fit this group?
One group of these 'cool' girls are currently posting exactly the type of pics you have described at 13/14. DD showed me one today of one girl in bikinis (just normal bikinis though) posing 'influencer style' in her bedroom. They were the girls that told my DD four years ago that she was boring and lame. They certainly were more interested in only having the conventionally good looking girls as friends and were the 'mean' girls. Now it is all about the 'likes'.
Op you sound like a thoroughly decent and loving parent, and your life time work with teens will surely help you in many areas where we will flounder later!!
It is hard working out the middle ground, and what is imposing 'our world view' on them, and what is appropriate for a child of 13. It is a very fine line that most of us make many mistakes before hitting on something that feels right.
This is going to send very far out, and at the risk of sounding new age I will put it out there. Are you still hugging your teens (when they allow it)? Are you still kissing them goodnight? Are you still connecting them on a physical level as you would have done when they were young?
Some parents back of instinctively as the child becomes a teen, new body boundaries are often put in place by the teen or the parent, and a lack of affection is sometimes the outcome. I say this because I have a theory that many teens of this age and older are somewhat starved of affection, and they go looking for it elsewhere. It may be of their own doing, or it may be that parents feel it is no longer feels right. Every human being needs to be touched, to be held, to feel loved and to feel care for, even snarling 6ft teenagers. We all need to know that we are cared for, and often it is around this time when they in fact need it most. Girls especially will go out and look for this kind of affection from friends, and sometimes boys.
Really being present, listening, developing hobbies together, making sure there is physical connection if the teen is happy to be hugged and cuddled (not otherwise as it becomes an imposition) Really making the time to focus entirely on them even for a short amount of the time daily is really undervalued in this country particularly. There is a value system that once children hit the teens we can check out to some degree, when often the opposite is needed.
This has nothing to do with the way your dd dresses or what she posts, but it may be a stepping stone for the attention she is likely to receive especially from boys, and if she is vulnerable to needing affection she is more likely to get involved. The girls you identify as 'trouble' or often girls that are simply deprived of attention/affection and are taking care of that basic human need themselves.
It all depends on the reasons for her doing this, is she copying others? Does she like the attention? Is she doing it to shock you? Rebelling?
Or simply playing, and dressing up?
Either way the photos need to stop being posted on SM, for her own good, she will thank you in a few years I promise you
It's not shallow to start to like how you look or want to like how you look - please explore this value judgement. While I agree with the risks of social media and girls only valuing their looks, there is also a risk of not helping your daughter to like how she looks or feel attractive in herself - I know because this happened to me.
I was very vulnerable to male attention precisely because I was unsexy, kept as a small child too long, not helped to understand my burgeoning sexuality or cope with attention. This badly affected my self esteem until I was almost thirty.
It's also why I disagree with never comment on the yr daughter's looks (as in sometimes praise them) - there are many fine lines here and it's hard to manage them but you need to think round this a bit further.
Also explore whether it's the start of her being clearly different to you and if you are finding that hard. Your daughter does not need to make the same decisions as you or change that part of her personality. She does need to be safe, understand the issues and feel positive about herself.
Also, sorry not helpful, but the idea of a charity bake being an example of an acceptable child really made me laugh
This is a really interesting thread for the mother of a nearly-teen girl - thank you so much for all the thoughtful posts from different perspectives.
Hooray yes I can see how twee that sounds. It's just the most recent example that sprung to mind as her class was doing a charity bake sale and she didn't want to get involved for fear of being teased by her peers and not appearing to be cool.
I'm a few years off having teenagers and the social media side of things really does worry me.
But for what it's worth, I think it's a shame that you're disappointed in her. The posting provocative pics on Instagram is one thing, but being disappointed that she is vain and shallow is something else. Vanity and shallowness are par for the course during the teenage years, surely?
Doesn't make it right or easy but many, many teenagers are concerned about the way they look. I remember at 13 wandering about with crop tops on, I'm sure if SM was around I'd have done what your daughter is doing. I'm just glad that wasn't around in the 90s! But forever teenage girls have pushed the boundaries about what is 'appropriate' to wear - we all used to adjust our school skirts to make them shorter (and I remember my mum admitting doing this back in the 60s!). None of this means that she will be vain and shallow for the rest of her life. It's a stage, part of the teenage rebellion that most teenagers will go through.
I don't think vanity and being shallow is 'par of the course' at all, actually. They have to learn it from somewhere, and that is usually that they have a strong culture of internet use, allowed social media from a young age, have vain and image conscious parents or have friends like that and they are easily led. My DD tells me ALL the 'popular' group in school are very two faced. Will be nice as pie to her in classes but rude or bullying when with their friends.
I don't mean vanity and shallowness being a defining aspect of someone's personality as being par for the course. Some people are vain and shallow whatever happens! But more that rebellion, experimentation etc happens and it does not necessarily define a 13 year old for ever more.
She’s exploring her sexuality. We all did it. It’s just nowadays everything’s so public!
Please don't feel disappointed in your daughter. She's a normal 13 year old girl. Crop tops, etc are perfectly normal clothes for teenage girls to wear. She's just copying what she sees others doing. It's not about being sexually provocative and attracting boys, she just wants validation and to be told by her peers she looks good. That's normal and part of growing up, it doesn't make her shallow or vain, or mean she'll get into trouble.
Work on your relationship with her. Talk about the good sides of social media and also what can do wrong. Be open with her and encourage her to be open with you. Help her to be confident in herself and understand that what she is inside is what really matters, but don't dismiss her concerns about her appearance. 'What I look like' is of upmost importance to teenage girls and that's fine and normal. Just help her find a healthy balance.
There is not much you can do. My DD when 14 usto come down the stairs with makeup on before school. When I drove her to school I got her to take it off with a baby wipe. Checked her bag ect for makeup nothing. When she came home from school she had loads of makeup on. You can be strict you can be kind and supportive although they think they know best so it's a loosing battle. I would of been furious with her if she posted herself online and she knows it. Switch the internet off as it sounds to me that she may not see the dangers around the corner. I would feel like you op
I explained to my DC (who are a little older than yours) that at my last job the IT manager had to do an internet search on all the partners' names every week to see what came up. It led in to a discussion on how you will want to present yourself at work one day and would you be happy if some of the photos you took of yourself came up when you were applying for a job etc. If so, don't post them. They sort of understand about taking the longer term view now and think a bit more about what they post.
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