A few weeks ago, I read a blog post about cyberbullying and step-parenting. It ended with a pretty strong statement that maybe the step-mother who had cyberbullied her stepchild made a mistake in offering to join the family. Yikes! Maybe this stepmom just needed some insight or knowledge from another stepmom that would have helped the situation, helped her understand that cyberbulllying through Facebook or Twitter isn’t the path she wants to be on.
I think we should talk about step-parenting and social media more than we do as social media is pervasive … Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Pinterest, blogs. It made me think about how my husband and I handled this social media / step parent thing when we got married.
Starting our blended family with teenagers brought its own set of unique opportunities. One of them was how best to manage Facebook and Twitter. I mean, three out of our four kids have Facebook and Twitter accounts, and my step-daughter has a blog. We made sure we spent some time discussing this one, because as we know, it can be minefield out there and you don’t even know it until you’re out in the middle of it.
Our Social Media Approach
We came up with a fairly simple approach to it … let them make the first move. We chose to see if our stepkids cared to engage with us on social media. I waited to see if my stepkids sent me a friend request on Facebook. They did. My oldest son sent my husband a friend request. I waited to see if they followed me on Twitter. One did, one didn’t. I’m totally okay with that. I think that by them reaching out, it showed that they wanted to invite us a bit more into their worlds. But if your stepkids, don’t invite you into this part of their world, just remember, it’s okay. Really. It isn’t a slight against you personally. Although, it is so easy to feel that way. Been there, done that with other situations myself. Try to remember that they’re kids, trying to figure this all out just like we are. We need to be the example, we need to show them the way by our actions.
So, what are your intentions with your stepkids on Facebook or Twitter? Intentions drive actions. Our intentions are to show our stepkids that we care about them, that they are loved, that they can count on us, that we will not be shaken, we have their best interests at heart. We do not want to make their lives any harder than we have to.
Social Media Guidelines
So, based on our intentions and the dynamics in our blended family, my husband and I came up with this list of guidelines for social media engagement with our kids and stepkids:
- Keep the engagement light, maybe a “Like” here and there. Too many “likes” can look stalker-ish.
- Keep comments on the kids’ Facebook status update/pix to a minimum. Sharing your comments in person is always an option.
- Keep status updates/tweets about them few and far between. If we do include them, we keep the update/tweet positive.
- Be discerning about tagging them in status updates, pictures. This could upset my stepkids’ mom so we really shy away from it. We’ve gone to the extreme of not putting pictures from events or trips on Facebook.
- Do not use Facebook and Twitter as primary communication tools.
- Do not use Facebook or Twitter as platforms to vent. Even if our stepkids aren’t following us, they can find us and see what we’ve been saying.
These guidelines are specific to our family with where we are now in the blending process. They’re working for us. Just some ideas to consider, they may or may not work for you and your blended family situation.
I would love to hear from some of you regarding how you handle social media … the good stuff and the challenging stuff. How have you handled Facebook and Twitter in your blended family?