If my children won’t “friend” me, does that mean I’m not their friend? If they won’t let me follow them on Twitter or Instagram, what does that mean for our relationship?
Or does Facebook “friending” and Twitter “following” only apply to their peers?
What are they trying to hide? Are they embarrassed by me? Or are they simply asserting their independence?
Social media has, in a way, redefined a parent’s role in the relationship with their children. The very words “friend” and “follow” have taken on new meaning. Many parents seek to become their child’s “bff” (best friend forever) but is this what our children need as they grow into adults?
How do we as parents transition from captain of their ship to First Mate? Or do we become their Coast Guard – who they only call in times of emergency?
As for me and mine, I decided early on in my parenting that I did not want to become my child’s “bff”.
I realized as early as elementary school that I could not emotionally handle that role. When my daughter came home from school and dumped her problems squarely in my lap, I wanted to immediately fix them—i.e. call the little mean girl or boy’s parents and set them straight!
What I realized early on was by the next day my daughter had forgotten all about the incident, but I was still stewing over it and holding resentment towards this child who had hurt my child.
It did not get any better as she got older. (Example: the boy who broke her heart at the 9th grade dance needed to be punished.) And so it went. Even today, when I see that kid, I am not sure I have forgiven him! A mother’s hurt runs deep!
So, the role of “bff” to my children is not for me. Sometimes I am too close to the situation. I know when I can give my children the perspective of an impartial counselor and when I can’t resist the urge to try to fix it.
And to be honest, I have to admit that if I had full access to my daughter’s social life, I would try to meddle. I would get anxious and worried about the same things she’s anxious and worried about. And that’s not good for either of us. I’m guessing that’s why she doesn’t want me to see her Facebook page.
Sometimes the role of a parent is just to listen. Let them vent their problems and then, if asked—and only if asked—offer some options to solve the problem. Throughout their lives our children will have many “bffs” but they will have only one mother and one father. I can comfort myself with that fact.
As a mom, I practice every day “staying in my lane.” Some days I do better than others. But I know for my children to learn from their pains and solve their own issues, my role as captain of their ship must diminish as they get older. I will settle out of court to be their Coast Guard, quietly observing from a distance, keeping their borders safe and being there when they need me.
And just maybe one day, they will “friend” me on their Facebook page!
A mom can hope!