As We Talk About Claudia Conway, Let's Remember She's 15
The daughter of former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has earned a social media following for her tell-all posts on TikTok, but experts say it's important to consider her age and what might be going on behind the scenes.
As Donald Trump and a bevy of politicians and White House officials battle COVID-19, transparency around the constantly evolving situation seems to be in short supply. That's just one reason social media is blowing up with applause for Claudia Conway, the teen daughter of former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and Lincoln Project co-founder George Conway.
Claudia Conway's Rise to Social Media Fame
The progressive 15-year-old has been acting as something of a whistleblower, breaking the news of her mother's COVID-19 diagnosis on TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram Stories.
As the situation escalated, Claudia has even shared clips of her mom trying to dictate what she says on social media and the two of them arguing about the teen sharing details of her mother's diagnosis. In turn, followers have praised the teen for being so candid.
But while Claudia should absolutely be celebrated for using her voice to stand up for what she believes in, it's important to remember that she's a teen sharing not only politically-charged info but a glimpse into her family trauma. Claudia previously posted on social media that she was seeking emancipation from her parents, citing years of "trauma and abuse."
Clearly, there is more going on behind the scenes than outsiders see on social media. And for a minor in a home where she has said she feels unsafe, the situation is extremely complicated.
We should not assume that adolescents think like adults and consider all that might be happening developmentally and psychosocially with them, says Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist in Wilton, Connecticut. "They are in the process of establishing their own identity separate from their parents, they are naturally impulsive and emotional," she explains. "They are in need of validation and seek it readily as they are trying to figure out who they are. We have to keep these factors in mind." At the same time, it's important to recognize that they can and do often speak the truth, says Feliciano.
This situation is also a lesson on cultivating empathy, critical thinking, and centering yourself when approaching conflict.
What Parents and Teens Can Learn From This Conflict
Parents and even teens engaging with Claudia's posts should ask themselves, "what might she and her family be going through right now?" says Feliciano. "This is one of the most important human traits that we as psychologists are seeing decline generationally with the increased use of social media," she notes.
While parents should encourage teens to use their voice and validate their perspective, it's also crucial to encourage critical thinking around what they're posting on social media, says Feliciano. "Help them ask the question, 'Do I have the whole story to decide if this is true?'" she says.
At the same time, parents might want to ask themselves:
- What is making them share this information now?
- Why do they want people to know this?
- What else if anything could be motivating them to share this?
- Who is affected by their disclosing this information?
- Is there any benefit to them?
- Are there any other reliable news sources that can validate what they are saying?
And finally, if you can relate almost too well to butting heads with a child who is on a completely different page politically or otherwise, try to take a step back and cool off before trying to have a conversation, urges Feliciano. "In the midst of a strong emotional reaction may not be the best time for anyone to think clearly," she notes.
The Bottom Line
Although Claudia's following is bound to keep blowing up as the teen continues to use her platform to share her views, anyone engaging with her posts ought to remember that there's much more going on behind the scenes. Claudia deserves a round of applause for her courage, but given the trauma at the root of her posts, we should see them through the lens of empathy as well.
And reminder: Claudia Conway is 15 years old. Social media opens the floodgates for free for all criticism and commentary, but anyone engaging in online discussions about or directly with Claudia would do well to treat her the same way they'd want their teen to be treated online. And that includes not putting the weight of the country's future on her.