As my 15 year old daughter drives herself to her band camp with me at the passenger seat, I pick up on a conversation we had couple of years back. "Remember the story of that beautiful Cincinnati teen, Jesse Logan, who had committed suicide after a nude photo that was meant for her boyfriend's eyes alone ended up being circulated around her high school?". She did remember our discussion. The incident had occurred in 2008, sending a shiver down the spine of every parent. I told her, sadly, incidents like these are happening everywhere. In this age of constant and instant communications, the expectations of intimacy is high at every level, yes, even virtually. We hear of pic pressure- boyfriend asking/ pressurizing girlfriend for a revealing picture. We hear of the pic going viral upon break up. We hear of the ridicule and the humiliation that the girl is subjected to. We hear of a life lost- because someone did something simply because they could, because today's technology provides the means to.
"Then what would you say to one of those girls, if you were the mom?" my daughter asks, looking completely uninterested, yet trying to humor me. I think about it very carefully. I'm not bothered by the apparent lack of interest in her tone. I'm undeterred by the forced attempt at making conversation. All I realize is that I am being given a golden opportunity to imprint my stand in her brain. I want to convey the perfect message, in a perfect way. I want to mince no word. I want to leave nothing unsaid. And yet, I don't want to sound like I'm beating down on "kids these days". I don't want to sound like I'm ranting on the "evils of technology". Trying to hold the rush of words that are eager to barge out of my mouth at been given the invitation to, I say, what I believe every mother of a teenage daughter would say- multiple times.
No mother would want her daughter to send revealing pictures of herself to anyone- not to a boy friend of 1 or less month, not to a boy friend of 3 or more years. Every mother's hope is that no matter what the pressure, her daughter would be strong enough to not give in to any pressure or dare, to never compromise on what she believes in her heart to be potentially dangerous and risky, to stay away from situation or people that constantly put her resolves or judgement to test. That said, if I am the mother of a girl that makes that one mistake of her life and is facing the worst case scenario of such an action, I know I'll be furious. I'll furious with her for an hour. Maybe two. Perhaps even more. But I also hope that my daughter would know that the anger will subside soon. I hope that she'll know that once it does, I'll hug her tight and try my best to make her feel safe and secured. I'll kiss her and do my best to take the feeling of humiliation away. But most importantly, I'll look her in the eyes and I'll tell her to not judge herself by her one weak moment, to keep her head high, to not let anyone shame her because of her one bad decision. Because end of the day, hers is just another body.
"Hmm. I hope all the mothers are already saying all that to their daughters. Even before anything happens", says my daughter, as she parks, gets off the car and gives me back the control.