This dad is left out in the Facebook cold

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  August 27, 2009 06:00 AM

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Question: I joined Facebook a few months ago. My teenage children, who live with their mother, gladly added me as a Friend, and we had fun exchanging posts. A few weeks later I noticed I had been unfriended by my 2 daughters, but not my son. He and I still have an active exchange on FB. During my kids next visit, I asked the girls about it. They told me their mother does not want them on Facebook and made them cancel their accounts. Recently a friend of mine commented that he was surprised that my girls were not Friends with me, because he sees them on Facebook all the time. He showed me their profiles and indeed, they have very active accounts. They even have their mother as a Friend.

My suspicion is that mom has banned the girls from being my FB friend. I imagine this puts them in a difficult position because their brother is on FB frequently when they visit. Do you have any advice on how I can broach this topic with my former spouse and or my children?

From: Casey, Essex County

Hi Casey,

Let's assume that you are dead-on: Their mom has banned them from friending you, and they are embarrassed/unhappy/guilty -- whatever -- about it. They feel caught between two people they love so they've concocted this white lie.

If you ask their mother about it, you risk putting your girls in a potentially more stressful situation of being found out by their mother. I suggest you just let it go. It's too bad their mother couldn't allow this, but there are so many modes of communication these days, surely you can find another way to stay in touch with them.

And yes, there is the possibility that their mother did not put them up to this and that if you don't ask her, you'll never find that out. It's also true that this answer somewhat contradicts my advice in previous posts about the need for separated & divorced parents to keep open the channels of communication. But your kids are teenagers and these are difficult enough years as they are. I would try to spare them the additional stress.

If you still feel the need to air this, the most I would do is say to your daughters, "If you ever want to tell me the real story about why you can't friend me on Facebook, I'd sure be interested in hearing it." I would not mention that your friend saw them on FB because that's trapping them in their lie.

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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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