Mom feels betrayed by friends & family. Is she over-reacting?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  April 21, 2011 06:00 AM

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My 12 yr started a facebook last year (at 11). I wasn't thrilled about the idea, but wanted to give her a chance and monitored her page, etc. She started to freely put up information about our family, and that she was single, and interested in men. When I tried to explain that it is unnecessary to provide this information - she became defiant and refused to remove the info. So I took her page down.

A year later I find out that she started a new page (a day later), under an alias, and many of my friends and family are friends with her! When i confronted them, they all said that she asked them not to tell me, and they didn't want to start any drama! they also didn't think it was a problem because they were monitoring her page (for me i guess). I am completely mortified. Just when I thought I was growing with my child, adjusting and transitioning into her teen years ... now I just want to lock her up and never speak to my friends or family again. there was once life before social networking websites!

Thanks for letting me vent. Opinions welcomed.

From: Robie-lyn, Meriden, CT

Dear Robie-lyn,

I guess this is as big a neon sign as we're gonna get that social networking has shanghai-ed our culture. I know it isn't going away, but I don't get how adults could think this was appropriate for a 12-year-old, esp when not even Facebook wants children this age.

What's even less un-excusable is that none of them told you. If she had come to them and said, "I just cheated on a test and I got a 95! It was really easy to cheat and everyone else does it, too! But don't tell my parents, OK," what would they have done? I'm not equating Facebook to cheating; the commonality here is that both activities are risky at this age. I hope (after you cool off), you can have a conversation with some of these clueless friends & family. One thing you can do is arm them with this line, should they ever be in a situation again: "I'm glad you trust me enough to want to share this with me, but this really is something your parents need to know about." Period.

Readers, do you agree? What would you do?

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12 comments so far...
  1. I'm just horrified that these friends and family mislead Robie-lyn so badly. Way to send a double-bad message to the kid: it's ok to lie to Mom, and we're going to be complicit in your deceit. I cringed when I read that she was posting that she was single and looking for men. She was 11YO! Assuming that she was truthful about her age, her original FB page was just a banner ad for pedophiles. I totally don't blame Mom for taking the page down and I would be enraged at the enablers that conspired with the daughter.

    Now, what to do? Have a calm conversation with these people. Tell them that YOU are the parent and that if you decide that your daughter's behavior is inappropriate it is not their place to undermine your authority. Explain that as a result your daughter will not have FB privileges of any sort and that you will be monitoring all communications between she and them. Then sit your little darling down and tell her that the consequences of deliberately deceiving Mom, and involving friends and family in the deceit, are dire. No more FB and a strict curfew. And since she's shown inappropriate interest in trolling for men online, no dating until she's 32 (ok, kidding about that last part. Maybe 16).

    Posted by JBar April 21, 11 07:39 AM
  1. The link to the FB rules doesn't work on this post, but the quick answer is that FB doesn't want anyone below 13 YO on their site.

    Posted by JBar April 21, 11 08:05 AM
  1. Wow. First off, as Barbara said, FB won't allow anyone under, I believe, 13. You need to supply a birth date when signing up. This tells me that the LW lied or allowed her daughter to lie to get the original account. Now Mom's upset because daughter is lying? Interesting...
    The other adults here should be ashamed of themselves. If an 11 or 12 year old makes a point of saying "don't tell my mom" that's a red flag for me. And when and where does this child log on to FB is another question. How much unmonitored screen time does she have, and what else is she doing that her mother doesn't know about?
    I agree with Barbara, this needs to be addressed with these adults. How would they feel if the reverse was true and this was one of their daughters? Who are they to usurp the rules set by the parents? Barbara's line is a good one.
    Mom, put the computer in a common area and limit use. No need for a child this age to have one in her room or to have a laptop. My daughter is the same age, and her computer access is controlled by ME. Any site that she visits using her account have to be approved by ME. Monitor her usage on portable devices. Turn off the web on her phone. Get control back, mom. You won't be popular, but this isn't a popularity contest.

    Posted by Mary April 21, 11 09:39 AM
  1. It's actually illegal for her to have a Facebook account. It's right on the website. She had to lie when putting her birthdate, even when you allowed her to make an account. So you shouldn't have let her have one in the first place. It let her know that it was okay to lie when FB was involved.

    In the second place, who takes orders from a 12-year-old when they know something is off-limits? I could understand if the "family members" were her similarly aged cousins, but it doesn't sound like it. I agree with Barbara's advice on how to handle it.

    Finally, you should know what your daughter is doing with her/the computer in the house. It wouldn't take much to figure out that the site was being visited frequently.

    Posted by RFBF April 21, 11 10:01 AM
  1. I'm just horrified that these friends and family mislead Robie-lyn so badly. Way to send a double-bad message to the kid: it's ok to lie to Mom, and we're going to be complicit in your deceit. I cringed when I read that she was posting that she was single and looking for men. She was 11YO! Assuming that she was truthful about her age, her original FB page was just a banner ad for pedophiles. I totally don't blame Mom for taking the page down and I would be enraged at the enablers that conspired with the daughter.

    Now, what to do? Have a calm conversation with these people. Tell them that YOU are the parent and that if you decide that your daughter's behavior is inappropriate it is not their place to undermine your authority. Explain that as a result your daughter will not have FB privileges of any sort and that you will be monitoring all communications between she and them. Then sit your little darling down and tell her that the consequences of deliberately deceiving Mom, and involving friends and family in the deceit, are dire. No more FB and a strict curfew. And since she's shown inappropriate interest in trolling for men online, no dating until she's 32 (ok, kidding about that last part. Maybe 16).

    Posted by JBar April 21, 11 10:40 AM
  1. It is disappointing that your friends and family didn't tell you about this, but the lion's share of the blame rests with you for not knowing what your daughter is doing online. I'd say it's time to make some serious changes to the way the internet gets accessed inside your house.

    Posted by geocool April 21, 11 01:46 PM
  1. Good LORD I'm with JBar on the 11 y/o adverting herself as single and interested in men.

    It sounds like there's a lot wrong with everything in this scenario. Starting with the fact that a parent allowed an 11 y/o to lie to get a FB account, followed by a lack (noted anyway, maybe it did happen) of conversation about the inappropriateness and DANGEROUSNESS of adverting your status like that as a child - and wrapped up by these so called friends and family members covering for this kid.

    LW, you're right to be angry, but you should also acknowledge that you set the bar when you let her lie to sign up for a FB account to begin with. You should also explain, calmly, why you wanted it taken down - what the dangers are - and have a frank, "adult" discussion with your daughter about this.

    Finally, you need to set firm limits with these friends and family. Their behavior is inexcusable.

    Posted by Phe April 21, 11 03:37 PM
  1. Ok, agree that she doesn't need FB at that age, and that the friends/family behavior is egregious. Just wanted to note one thing before people get TOO horrified.
    The girl was most likely NOT trolling for men on FB. There are standard personal info fields called "Interested In" and "Relationship Status" that one can choose to fill out when completing a profile. These are intended for the purpose of announcing sexual orientation and whether one is single or married (useful when connecting with new friends or catching up with old ones).
    I'm pretty sure the girl was probably just filling those fields out because they were there and because her answers were true. It's mom's job to (rightly) point out to her that there can be unintended implications in posting that info. Giving the info tends to imply that someone is looking for romantic connections or that one's relationship status is relevant, which is inappropriate for an 11-yr-old.

    Posted by Asumi April 21, 11 03:47 PM
  1. You lied but now are angry at your daughter and family for lying? By lying about her age to get on facebook you showed her that it is ok to lie to get what you want. Yes, it's too bad none of the other adults did not see the error in this when she rejoined (are these adults also parents? Older cousins?) and were not able to take a stand.

    I'll add to what others said about the status and say that it is very easy to hide your profile in a way that no one outside your friend list sees anything but your name and photo (which can be anything). Add to that a discussion on not accepting friend requests from random strangers and the single status may have been a less of an issue facebook-wise.

    Posted by mm April 21, 11 05:45 PM
  1. And people wonder why kids seem to have less and less respect for parents. Society just does not hold that as important.

    Posted by oona1211 April 22, 11 08:57 AM
  1. Pretty awful situation. Mom has lost credibility by lying in the first place. And child has shown she'll find a way to get around any rules Mom sets. If her computer gets taken away at home, she'll use a friends' and a completely different name. There is no way to keep her shielded at all. In a case like this, I'd agree with grounding. The only way Mom can truly limit what daughter does and who she sees is to keep an eye on her physically. Perhaps after a month or two of this, daughter will understand how grave the consequences can be if she continues her deceitful behavior.

    Posted by momof2 April 22, 11 02:03 PM
  1. I'm with Momof2. Your daughter dis-obeyed your wishes. She needs to be shown there's consequences.

    Your family/friends disagree with you. They think you over-reacted with your no FB proclamation, and didn't want to get between your daughter and you. Not sure what's proper here, other then mentioning you know they were in a hard place, and asking them to rethink if they made the right choice.

    Posted by Michael May 10, 11 04:01 PM
 
12 comments so far...
  1. I'm just horrified that these friends and family mislead Robie-lyn so badly. Way to send a double-bad message to the kid: it's ok to lie to Mom, and we're going to be complicit in your deceit. I cringed when I read that she was posting that she was single and looking for men. She was 11YO! Assuming that she was truthful about her age, her original FB page was just a banner ad for pedophiles. I totally don't blame Mom for taking the page down and I would be enraged at the enablers that conspired with the daughter.

    Now, what to do? Have a calm conversation with these people. Tell them that YOU are the parent and that if you decide that your daughter's behavior is inappropriate it is not their place to undermine your authority. Explain that as a result your daughter will not have FB privileges of any sort and that you will be monitoring all communications between she and them. Then sit your little darling down and tell her that the consequences of deliberately deceiving Mom, and involving friends and family in the deceit, are dire. No more FB and a strict curfew. And since she's shown inappropriate interest in trolling for men online, no dating until she's 32 (ok, kidding about that last part. Maybe 16).

    Posted by JBar April 21, 11 07:39 AM
  1. The link to the FB rules doesn't work on this post, but the quick answer is that FB doesn't want anyone below 13 YO on their site.

    Posted by JBar April 21, 11 08:05 AM
  1. Wow. First off, as Barbara said, FB won't allow anyone under, I believe, 13. You need to supply a birth date when signing up. This tells me that the LW lied or allowed her daughter to lie to get the original account. Now Mom's upset because daughter is lying? Interesting...
    The other adults here should be ashamed of themselves. If an 11 or 12 year old makes a point of saying "don't tell my mom" that's a red flag for me. And when and where does this child log on to FB is another question. How much unmonitored screen time does she have, and what else is she doing that her mother doesn't know about?
    I agree with Barbara, this needs to be addressed with these adults. How would they feel if the reverse was true and this was one of their daughters? Who are they to usurp the rules set by the parents? Barbara's line is a good one.
    Mom, put the computer in a common area and limit use. No need for a child this age to have one in her room or to have a laptop. My daughter is the same age, and her computer access is controlled by ME. Any site that she visits using her account have to be approved by ME. Monitor her usage on portable devices. Turn off the web on her phone. Get control back, mom. You won't be popular, but this isn't a popularity contest.

    Posted by Mary April 21, 11 09:39 AM
  1. It's actually illegal for her to have a Facebook account. It's right on the website. She had to lie when putting her birthdate, even when you allowed her to make an account. So you shouldn't have let her have one in the first place. It let her know that it was okay to lie when FB was involved.

    In the second place, who takes orders from a 12-year-old when they know something is off-limits? I could understand if the "family members" were her similarly aged cousins, but it doesn't sound like it. I agree with Barbara's advice on how to handle it.

    Finally, you should know what your daughter is doing with her/the computer in the house. It wouldn't take much to figure out that the site was being visited frequently.

    Posted by RFBF April 21, 11 10:01 AM
  1. I'm just horrified that these friends and family mislead Robie-lyn so badly. Way to send a double-bad message to the kid: it's ok to lie to Mom, and we're going to be complicit in your deceit. I cringed when I read that she was posting that she was single and looking for men. She was 11YO! Assuming that she was truthful about her age, her original FB page was just a banner ad for pedophiles. I totally don't blame Mom for taking the page down and I would be enraged at the enablers that conspired with the daughter.

    Now, what to do? Have a calm conversation with these people. Tell them that YOU are the parent and that if you decide that your daughter's behavior is inappropriate it is not their place to undermine your authority. Explain that as a result your daughter will not have FB privileges of any sort and that you will be monitoring all communications between she and them. Then sit your little darling down and tell her that the consequences of deliberately deceiving Mom, and involving friends and family in the deceit, are dire. No more FB and a strict curfew. And since she's shown inappropriate interest in trolling for men online, no dating until she's 32 (ok, kidding about that last part. Maybe 16).

    Posted by JBar April 21, 11 10:40 AM
  1. It is disappointing that your friends and family didn't tell you about this, but the lion's share of the blame rests with you for not knowing what your daughter is doing online. I'd say it's time to make some serious changes to the way the internet gets accessed inside your house.

    Posted by geocool April 21, 11 01:46 PM
  1. Good LORD I'm with JBar on the 11 y/o adverting herself as single and interested in men.

    It sounds like there's a lot wrong with everything in this scenario. Starting with the fact that a parent allowed an 11 y/o to lie to get a FB account, followed by a lack (noted anyway, maybe it did happen) of conversation about the inappropriateness and DANGEROUSNESS of adverting your status like that as a child - and wrapped up by these so called friends and family members covering for this kid.

    LW, you're right to be angry, but you should also acknowledge that you set the bar when you let her lie to sign up for a FB account to begin with. You should also explain, calmly, why you wanted it taken down - what the dangers are - and have a frank, "adult" discussion with your daughter about this.

    Finally, you need to set firm limits with these friends and family. Their behavior is inexcusable.

    Posted by Phe April 21, 11 03:37 PM
  1. Ok, agree that she doesn't need FB at that age, and that the friends/family behavior is egregious. Just wanted to note one thing before people get TOO horrified.
    The girl was most likely NOT trolling for men on FB. There are standard personal info fields called "Interested In" and "Relationship Status" that one can choose to fill out when completing a profile. These are intended for the purpose of announcing sexual orientation and whether one is single or married (useful when connecting with new friends or catching up with old ones).
    I'm pretty sure the girl was probably just filling those fields out because they were there and because her answers were true. It's mom's job to (rightly) point out to her that there can be unintended implications in posting that info. Giving the info tends to imply that someone is looking for romantic connections or that one's relationship status is relevant, which is inappropriate for an 11-yr-old.

    Posted by Asumi April 21, 11 03:47 PM
  1. You lied but now are angry at your daughter and family for lying? By lying about her age to get on facebook you showed her that it is ok to lie to get what you want. Yes, it's too bad none of the other adults did not see the error in this when she rejoined (are these adults also parents? Older cousins?) and were not able to take a stand.

    I'll add to what others said about the status and say that it is very easy to hide your profile in a way that no one outside your friend list sees anything but your name and photo (which can be anything). Add to that a discussion on not accepting friend requests from random strangers and the single status may have been a less of an issue facebook-wise.

    Posted by mm April 21, 11 05:45 PM
  1. And people wonder why kids seem to have less and less respect for parents. Society just does not hold that as important.

    Posted by oona1211 April 22, 11 08:57 AM
  1. Pretty awful situation. Mom has lost credibility by lying in the first place. And child has shown she'll find a way to get around any rules Mom sets. If her computer gets taken away at home, she'll use a friends' and a completely different name. There is no way to keep her shielded at all. In a case like this, I'd agree with grounding. The only way Mom can truly limit what daughter does and who she sees is to keep an eye on her physically. Perhaps after a month or two of this, daughter will understand how grave the consequences can be if she continues her deceitful behavior.

    Posted by momof2 April 22, 11 02:03 PM
  1. I'm with Momof2. Your daughter dis-obeyed your wishes. She needs to be shown there's consequences.

    Your family/friends disagree with you. They think you over-reacted with your no FB proclamation, and didn't want to get between your daughter and you. Not sure what's proper here, other then mentioning you know they were in a hard place, and asking them to rethink if they made the right choice.

    Posted by Michael May 10, 11 04:01 PM
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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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