After I Friend My Daughter on Facebook I’m Going to be My Son’s Prom Date

12.26.11

Jane’s big Hanukkah gift this year was Facebook. She’s allowed to be on the social network so long as she uses it appropriately. There are two big rules on Facebook:

  1. Everything you write is always public (even if it’s a private message, even if you’ve blocked someone, even if, even if….)
  2. You cannot be friends with any adults. (not even Mom and Dad)

There was a great article today at Mamapedia about a mom unfriending a nine year old child. The article showed great wisdom in hindsight. A little foresight might have made things smoother in the neighborhood.

Before you friend a child, any child but particularly your own, ask yourself what it might achieve. If your child is under 13 they aren’t supposed to be on Facebook but that’s not because of maturity or Facebook caring about childhood. It’s because Facebook buys and sells your data and it’s illegal to buy and sell data from children under 13. If you don’t want your data bought and sold stay tuned, I’ll provide you with a solution for that little problem tomorrow.

If your child is thirteen and on Facebook I’d like you to answer the following questions with a simple yes or no:

  • When I bring my child to school I hang out with him/her on the schoolyard and chat with the kids.
  • When I bring my child to a school dance I stay for the first song or two, just to see how cute everyone looks all dressed up.
  • I make playdates for my 14 year old because they are not capable of making plans yet.
  • My child is super excited to see me in the afternoon and often asks me to join in games with all the other kids.
  • Sometimes when I’m chatting with a half dozen of my mommy friends I miss my kids and wish they could be there with us.
  • When I go to a luncheon with my girlfriends I pull out my phone and give them a slideshow of my kid’s pictures and they always love it and want more.
  • I need more teenage friends.

If you’ve answered Yes wholeheartedly to any of these questions then we diverge on our parenting. If the answers are no, as I suspect they are for most of us, then I’m confused about why you would want to cripple your child with your presence in their social network.

If you’re worried about stranger danger (not my concern but I totally get it if it’s yours), then why would you introduce everyone you’ve ever met at a conference and all of their friends to your child?

I’m not planning on being at my son’s prom any more than I’d planning on being part of my daughter’s Facebook timeline.

You absolutely may have different ideas about how a parent and child should connect in social media, but I can tell you this one incredibly important thing right now. The authors at Mamapedia talk about kids being teased about their pictures on Facebook. If you have pictures of your kids on your Facebook timeline make sure that they are pictures your children want shared with their classmates.

Women love to connect. We love to share in each other’s joys and uplift one another in times of need. The unanticipated consequence of Mommy Blogging and social networking is that we’re infringing on our children’s spaces and robbing them of the opportunity to make their own first impression. Let’s all step back a moment and think about a few ways we can connect with adults without totally humiliating our children.

And as always if you want privacy keep a journal, nothing here is private. Even if…

Recently I wrote about why I would never fan my child’s school on Facebook.

Paritally Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils Are Scarier Than Strangers

05.11.09

My ten year old Jane has a new favorite activity. She likes to walk to the sandwich shop three blocks away, eat there, and then window shop either at the pet accessory store or at the Comic Book Store. It’s quite a lovely way to pass some time, until you find out that she’s doing all of this without neither an adult nor a cell phone. Then people look at me funny.

When my daughter is gone I sit home and worry more about her food choices than about her interactions with strangers. The thought of my ten year old choosing a lunch of partially hydrogenated oils terrifies me, because according to The New England Journal Of Medicine, “between 30,000 and 100,000 cardiac deaths per year in the United States are attributable to the consumption of trans fats”. That is a statistically significant number of deaths.

In 2007, there were 518 minors Abducted by a Stranger per the FBI. In 2007 there were thousands of Americans who won the lottery, yet that still seems like a long shot to me.

Not all mothers want their tween daughters shopping, walking and dining. Not just yet, and I respect that. What’s interesting is that after the last five years of simple play dates we are back to phone calls and confirmations before we parent someone else’s child. Most recently my daughter’s ten year old friend came over and they wanted to walk to lunch, alone. I got on the phone and called the other Mom.

What was startling wasn’t that she didn’t want her daughter dining sans parents, it was that she was apologetic about it. “I’m really sorry,” she began.

“She’s your daughter. Don’t apologize.” I interrupted.

The mom continued. “You see I know a child who was recently kidnapped and murdered here in California.” Even if she hadn’t, she’s your kid. I had to interrupt her. I’m not going to make your parenting decisions for you, I’m going to assume you’ve thought it through, and I’m going to ask you how I should treat your child.

I am surrounded by extraordinary women with wonderful children. I call them and ask for help with parenting, camps, schools and discipline. We listen to each others input, and then we make decisions based upon our own parenting philosophies and what our individual children’s needs are.

What I really wish for, though, is for women to parent without apology.

I’d love to see folks backing off of Moms and acknowledging that they’re bright. I’d like to see women presented true and relevant data with neither spin nor fear mongering. I’d be ever so grateful if the days and nights of the mainstream media (MSM) weren’t occupied by finger pointing and blaming mothers for every problem in the world.

I let my ten year old walk about a mile, alone and without a cell phone. If there’s a problem she can walk into a store and ask to use the phone, just like I did. Just like you did. I love and appreciate my fellow Moms. I know that we’re all taking many paths to the same destination, I’ve seen your kids, and they’re wonderful. My hope is that my girlfriends and I will keep an open duologue. My hope is that I’ll continue to allow my children as many freedoms as they can handle, and that the women around me will do the same.

My hope is that we will support one another in our parenting, and know that these tween years will include irregular growth and maturity.

My hope for the women who surround me is that they know that I appreciate and respect their parenting decisions, and they will respect mine.

I will continue double checking with other moms before I allow a group to cross the street, and I will try to mask the horror when you give my children food that comes out of a science lab.