Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

PittGirl wonders if it's still possible to raise kids to be big-hearted people in an age of self-obsession.



Raising kids nowadays means we have the technology to track their every move. We can check their grades whenever we want. If they try to ditch school, we’ll know by 10 a.m., when the school’s attendance system calls the house to rat them out, and we can punish them simply by changing the Netflix password.

Technology also can make it difficult to raise a respectable member of society. Rules that didn’t exist years ago now are parental mantras: You can’t erase the Internet. Don’t text anything you wouldn’t say to Gram. For the love of God, never use the #blessed hashtag, not even if you win the lottery 10 days in a row.

Our social media-obsessed society has spurred an increasingly inward focus, even in preteens. How many “likes” did my picture get? Why does she have more followers than me? Twelve-year-olds are posting duck-faced selfies to Instagram and asking their followers to rate them. Then they obsess about their appearance.

I’m raising an 11-year-old boy. My hope is simple: When prospective employers Google his name 10 years from now, they won’t find an Internet meme revolving around something dumb he did in college that involves a police cruiser, two traffic cones and a roll of duct tape. It’s a simple goal — for him to keep a clean Internet record. Good grades and manners are just the cherries on top.

Before I let him jump into social media, I want to be sure he’s learned to care more about others than himself. I don’t want him to worry about followers, “likes,” retweets, rankings and whatever the hell they’re doing on Klout.

At times, he’ll whine about coveting the latest trendy shoes or socks. (Side thought: Did you know that Nike has convinced America’s youth that they must spend $24 on a pack of socks? My mom probably bought 50 pairs for $24 at Hills.)

I say, “You’re spoiled. I’m taking you to Haiti, where kids might not get to eat for a whole day. Where it doesn’t matter if your shoes are KDs or Lebrons — because you’re lucky to have shoes. Where some kids don’t want Instagram; they want a house with real walls.”

That lecture has gotten stale. He knows I’m probably not taking him to Haiti to learn lessons about having an outward focus. How can I teach him that what he has or wears isn’t the least bit important? Rather, what he does, especially for others, will impact his self-worth and success. After all, no great empire was built upon the foundation of the perfect duckface. (I’m getting that stitched on a pillow.)

Turns out, a generous ’Burgher can do something quick that will teach what hours of speeches never could.

My son loves baseball. Every day he begs my husband to play catch — on any warm evening, they’ll be in the yard until the daylight (or the 42-year-old shoulder) gives out. He watches or listens to every Pirates game. Has a shoebox full of baseball cards. (That’s a country-music song lyric; I don’t apologize.)

We recently found two envelopes tucked in the mailbox. Inside the first was a scrawled note: “Seen you outside cutting the grass in a Tabata jersey and wanted to toss these your way for you and your son. Had a lot of help recently and wanted to pay it forward. God bless, and go Bucs!”

Out of the second envelope we pulled two Jose Tabata baseball cards, including his rookie card. Both were perfectly preserved, autographed and with certificates of authenticity.

My son quietly turned the cards over and over in his hands. Someone we don’t know gave him a treasure and asked nothing in return. He wasn’t following my son on Twitter. Wasn’t his friend on Facebook. Never clicked “like” on Instagram. Didn’t care about his shoes or Klout score. He gifted something out of selflessness.

That’s a person maintaining an outward focus. That’s the goal — the lesson lived out loud: Be a good person, not a good social-media user. I think my son learned that firsthand. And I didn’t have to get on a plane to Haiti to teach him.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

After a Decade of Fun, A Strong Avengers Goes Dark

A spoiler-free review of "Avengers: Infinity War."

Watch: Boujee the French Bulldog Breaks Free

Juju Smith-Schuster’s dog makes some sweet aerial moves to get out of its cage.

A Bitter Pennsylvania Rivalry Is the Focus of a New Movie

Few questions spark such intense debate as “Wawa or Sheetz?” A local filmmaker hopes to answer which regional chain reigns supreme.

Kraft Heinz Squeezes Out New Ketchup with Vintage Taste

Can a recipe from 1896 still taste as good?

Tour It: Historic Wilkinsburg Mansion Gets a Makeover

The Junior League of Pittsburgh's Show House is a 112-year-old mansion featuring 28 rooms decorated by a different local design professionals.

Today’s Home Relocating North Hills Furniture Store

Owner Jeff Lenchner says a Discount Tire store will open in place of the store’s current location along McKnight Road in Ross Township.

Is Gabby Barrett the Next Carrie Underwood?

The 18-year-old singer from Munhall wowed the “American Idol” judges once again.

17 Vintage Photos of the Steel City of Old

Take a trip back to a very different Pittsburgh.

These Creative Couples Transformed the Traditional Guestbook

Find out why these couples ditched the traditional guestbook and instead chose a drum head, a giant wooden letter and a dictionary for their guests to sign.

PIT Turns to CMU to Make Airport Smartest in the World

The airport authority will use minds at CMU to discover ways to make it easier for passengers to get from the terminal’s parking lots to their seat on the plane.

Celebrate August Wilson's Birthday With a King and a Block Party

The ninth play in the 10-part Pittsburgh Cycle will open outside at the August Wilson House.

First Look: Soju in Garfield

Simon Chough’s Korean restaurant is six years in the making.

I Feel Pretty Isn't What You're Expecting (And That's Okay)

Reviews of "I Feel Pretty" and "Super Troopers 2," plus a rundown of events at the Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival.

Get Your Clark Bars While You Can – They May Soon Be Gone

Production of Pittsburgh native candy bar may halt if the current producer cannot find a new buyer.

Coughlin's Law Wants To Be Your Mount Washington Destination

Notes on the busy new bar and restaurant near Grandview Avenue.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Watch: Boujee the French Bulldog Breaks Free

Watch: Boujee the French Bulldog Breaks Free

Juju Smith-Schuster’s dog makes some sweet aerial moves to get out of its cage.

Comments

A Bitter Pennsylvania Rivalry Is the Focus of a New Movie

A Bitter Pennsylvania Rivalry Is the Focus of a New Movie

Few questions spark such intense debate as “Wawa or Sheetz?” A local filmmaker hopes to answer which regional chain reigns supreme.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
First Look: Soju in Garfield

First Look: Soju in Garfield

Simon Chough’s Korean restaurant is six years in the making.

Comments

New Chefs Coming to Smallman Galley

New Chefs Coming to Smallman Galley

Smallman Galley will rotate its third class of chef/owners this June … but this time there’s a twist.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 2018 Return of the Burgh-y Mother's Day Gift Guide

The 2018 Return of the Burgh-y Mother's Day Gift Guide

It's back! From the dog mom to the working mom, we've got you covered with these locally made must-haves.

Comments

The 5 Best Places to People Watch in Pittsburgh

The 5 Best Places to People Watch in Pittsburgh

A coffee shop, an iconic landmark, an airport and beyond — these are the best places to practice the art of people watching.

Comments


Coughlin's Law Wants To Be Your Mount Washington Destination

Coughlin's Law Wants To Be Your Mount Washington Destination

Notes on the busy new bar and restaurant near Grandview Avenue.

Comments

Smallman Galley Goes 3D With Its New Cocktail Menu

Smallman Galley Goes 3D With Its New Cocktail Menu

The bar team at the Strip District restaurant incubator continues its flights of fancy with Flashback Flavors.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Patriot Games Can’t Diminish Harrison’s Place in Steelers History

Patriot Games Can’t Diminish Harrison’s Place in Steelers History

James Harrison intimidated opposing players in a way not seen since the days of Jack Lambert and Mean Joe Greene.

Comments

Penguins Seeking 3-Peat With The Swagger of a Champion

Penguins Seeking 3-Peat With The Swagger of a Champion

The power play, star power and goaltending are among the primary weapons the Penguins have at their disposal in their quest for another championship. But so, too, is an unshakable belief they can hoist Lord Stanley's Cup three times in a row.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
After a Decade of Fun, A Strong Avengers Goes Dark

After a Decade of Fun, A Strong Avengers Goes Dark

A spoiler-free review of "Avengers: Infinity War."

Comments

I Feel Pretty Isn't What You're Expecting (And That's Okay)

I Feel Pretty Isn't What You're Expecting (And That's Okay)

Reviews of "I Feel Pretty" and "Super Troopers 2," plus a rundown of events at the Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
These Creative Couples Transformed the Traditional Guestbook

These Creative Couples Transformed the Traditional Guestbook

Find out why these couples ditched the traditional guestbook and instead chose a drum head, a giant wooden letter and a dictionary for their guests to sign.

Comments

The Best Ways to Reuse and Repurpose Wedding Decor

The Best Ways to Reuse and Repurpose Wedding Decor

From new decor in the home to donations to charity, check out these ways to repurpose leftover wedding decor.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Tour It: Historic Wilkinsburg Mansion Gets a Makeover

Tour It: Historic Wilkinsburg Mansion Gets a Makeover

The Junior League of Pittsburgh's Show House is a 112-year-old mansion featuring 28 rooms decorated by a different local design professionals.

Comments

Today’s Home Relocating North Hills Furniture Store

Today’s Home Relocating North Hills Furniture Store

Owner Jeff Lenchner says a Discount Tire store will open in place of the store’s current location along McKnight Road in Ross Township.

Comments