All posts by fberzau

Parental supervision taken to the next level

I have been watching a little bit of TV lately and noticed two commercials that both dealt with teenage supervision. One was a Volkswagen commercial, showing a dad in his Passat. I didn’t pay attention to the beginning of it, but I think he was picking up his daughter’s boyfriend at an airport. The two teenagers were sitting in the back seats. The dad was watching them through the rear mirror. All the time. So they couldn’t kiss each other. The point here was the traffic jam detection of the car, and that it would automatically slow down and accelerate as the traffic moves. But the interesting thing was that the dad in the driver seat could watch his daughter all the time, without taking his eyes off the rear mirror.

Another commercial I saw had a very similar message. I didn’t even catch the brand that was advertised. But the message was identical. In that spot, the dad used a home automation system to play with the blinds in his daughter’s room and other tricks. Again to prevent her from kissing her boyfriend.

So I am like, what the fuck. Is this behavior becoming the new norm in this country or what? Holy fuck. Whoever did those commercials, or approved them, or has them attached to the brand now, doesn’t realize how sick this is? I mean, come on. The teenagers in those spots were like real people. Young folks who are awakening to the changes in their body. They are alive. They want to experiment. They want to experience pleasure. And ultimately they want to love, and to be loved.

So who are we to show a behavior that is intercepting that. What right do we have to treat teenage kids like that. This is inappropriate and it is stupid. First of all, every person on the planet has the right to free will. If parents don’t get it when their little children move to a new phase in their lives, and that dads are no longer the center of their daughters’ focus – get real, wake up. When my daughter turned into a teenage girl, quite a while before she even had her first boyfriend, I talked to her about the changes I am seeing, and what I predict for the future. I told her that it is ok if she will one day turn her attention to a boyfriend, and that it will of course hurt me. But this is just because our relationship will change in nature. And so something I will have to let go. But our relationship won’t end, it will just change. And I told her that that is perfectly fine, and something I have to deal with it. Something I did not mention but is clear to me today – it is much easier for the daughter who then has something new and exciting to replace the former most important man on the planet (her dad), and so she doesn’t notice as much. Still, both are going through change. And that’s life.

Of course I want to educate my child to pay attention to her well being. Make sure she is always comfortable in how she is being treated etc. But this is then her own responsibility and I’d better done a good job in helping her to learn how to stand up for her needs. And if I have done that, there is nothing I need to fear. Except my emotional reaction to realizing I am no longer the center of the universe in my daughter’s world. But – like I said – that is my problem. Not that of my kid.

In that sense, I hope the subtle message of those commercials remains unnoticed and unheard. No, it is not ok to supervise a teenage girl like it was a little child. No, it is not ok to dictate a daughters’ live like in a prison environment. Those commercials aren’t just stupid. They are dangerous. And they are not even a little bit funny. At least if you dare to get a sense for the emotional pain of the teenagers. It seems to me, the teenagers are behaving a lot more adult (by respecting the expected emotional pain of their dad if they were just kissing their boyfriend in front of his eyes), or maybe they are just protecting themselves from the outrage it might cause. The dads though, are smiling at the success of their technological approach to a very strict supervision. Emotionally inappropriate, because really the motivation behind their action is simply fear of being left behind. And not facing it, and instead forcing separation between those teenage kids upon them, is immature.

And it won’t always work. So it is not even responsible. Instead of an open discussion with their kids, early enough, and making sure they learn how to act responsibly when they fall in love the first time, they are forced to live that in the dark. Stupid. Fucked up commercials.