This post is inspired by a number of things. Partly a great blog post I picked up on WordPress’ freshly pressed page about being facebook friends with your parents, partly this cartoon from Unshelved and partly some stuff going on at the moment with my own kids.
It’s a fine line we parents of teenagers walk, staying involved with our kids lives, without being too involved – because that just looks creepy. Or co-dependent. Or embarrassing. Or all of the above. So, I’m facebook friends with my kids (and half my daughter’s school friends but that’s another story) but am very careful not to abuse that. There are unwritten rules about this that I try to follow- I don’t write on their wall too often, don’t make too many comments, and don’t tag them in (very many) embarrassing photos.
Sometimes I can use something I saw on facebook as a starter in a conversation with one of my kids. I might not comment publicly, there, where all their friends can see, but I’ll quietly say something later – or send them a message in their inbox so it’s private. I don’t ‘stalk’ my kids’ pages, but as the boys live mainly with their dad I don’t see them on a day to day basis and find I can use facebook as a way of keeping up with who their friends are, or what they might have been out and about doing.
I’m grateful that somewhere along the line I clearly managed to get some parenting stuff right – my kids are actually happy with having family as their facebook friends, they are happily connected with all my cousins, aunts and uncles as well as their own. It helps that when my extended family get together we have noisy parties that often last an entire weekend, so the kids have happy associations with all their elders.
I stay in touch with my kids in other ways too, by taking an interest in the things that interest them. I still go and watch the 18 year old General play water polo as often as I can and I’ll continue to do that while I’m getting the message from him that my presence is ok or even welcome. I arrange my weekends so that I can get to soccer games, take Young Gun and his mates to skate parks and spend hours at the library and in involved discussions about history and english with Bookworm.
Sigh, it really does seem only months ago that they were toddlers and preschoolers and I could walk beside them or behind them, guiding them through all the fun and not-so fun bits. Now they are learning to do that for themselves. It’s nice to watch.