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Teachers, Students, Facebook Don’t Mix

Kids don’t need teachers to be their friends.

One of the things I love about Patch is going from site to site to see what people are talking about in other towns. This week, .

In a nutshell, the question was, should teachers and students be friends on Facebook? The story goes that a teacher from Maine accidentally posted a picture of himself naked on Facebook and, since he was “friends” with some of his students, well, there you have it.

First off, I’m astounded that so many adults have so much time to be on Facebook. Second, why on earth would anybody post a picture of himself or herself naked anywhere? Why do you have a picture of yourself naked to begin with?

All that aside, I cannot fathom why a teacher would “friend” a student.

Kids don’t need teachers to be their friends. They don’t need their parents to be their friends either, for that matter.

That doesn’t mean teachers can’t have fun with their students and enjoy their company in the school setting. But being friends implies a certain sense of equality, and neither teacher-student nor parent-child relationships are built of equals.

Kids are fundamentally looking for boundaries. It starts when they are crawling around as babies and continues well into their adolescence. They may recoil when told, “no, you can’t do that,” but psychologically, that’s what they crave.
Boundaries provide stability and stability provides comfort. When boundaries are missing, the “freedom” may seem liberating at first, but that doesn’t last.

Children will constantly test those boundaries – toddlers reaching toward that elusive cookie or teens staying out a few minutes past curfew.

In the end, they want to know that someone is watching and that someone cares enough to keep them safe. They can’t articulate that, of course. They think they want freedom, but what they need are boundaries.

It’s a delicate line, but one teachers need to walk. They must show students they care and offer support while clearly indicating that the student is the subordinate in the relationship. Boundaries must be set, maintained and respected by both parties.

Parents are in the same boat. Too many times, today’s parents believe they need to be their kid’s best buddy. Not true.

That doesn’t mean dad and son can’t hang out together and watch the ballgame, but it needs to be clear who the parent is and what that means. What that means changes over time, of course, as children grow and develop emotionally, but at the core is that the parent is the authority figure.

And while authority figures don’t have to be dictatorial, they certainly shouldn’t be Facebook friends, either.

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