I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. When I was thinking about the ways it has recently changed and the resulting challenges, I realized that it parallels the way my tween has changed, too. Turns out parenting and using Facebook are really very similar.
1. I used to get more information, both from my kid and from Facebook.
Remember when Facebook showed all kinds of stuff from your friends? You didn't miss posts, your feed was full of people you knew, not friends of friends to whom you have no connection?
Ah, the good old days.
I feel the same way about the times when my daughter couldn't wait to tell me all about absolutely everything that happened in school that day. Now, many a tween parent laments that asking how school was is answered with a perfunctory "fine" and that's it. No information sharing, despite a request to do so.
2. They both want my money.
There was a time when Facebook had no ads, but now it seems like one of its missions is to get me to spend, spend, spend. Yes, I know that's what happens when a company goes public, but can't I miss the commercial-free days?
Similarly, while raising a child has never been what I would call a cheap endeavor, I'm learning that the older kids get, the more expensive they get. They also somehow seem to need more stuff and want me to spend, spend, spend.
3. Privacy settings are important, but not always easy to figure out.
The decrease in information sharing from my tween is of course related to her wanting more privacy. I get that. I just never quite got the memo announcing "I will now keep things to myself." Similarly, though, the converse is also true of tweens and teens who appear to lose all interest in privacy when they post all kinds of stuff on the internet.
Their privacy settings change, unexpectedly and inconsistently. The same is true of Facebook.
Trying to figure out the new settings in either venue will involve a lot of time and confusion on your part, with perhaps questionable success. Don't worry, they'll change again soon, though, and you can go through it all over again!
4. Asking is not enough.
Facebook isn't as forthcoming as one would think, even when you purposefully ask to see something.
You can "like" a page on Facebook and it seems like you are asking Facebook to show you that info, but that does not mean Facebook will actually show you what you want.
This reminds me of the student council pizza party info sheet that never quite made its way from my child's backpack into my hot little hands, despite me asking for it. Nicely. Repeatedly.
Additional steps are required, both with kids and Facbook. (Even though that's the case, please like the Tween Us Facebook page. And you can get around that by hovering over the "like" button and clicking "get notifications.")
5. There are still moments of wonderful connection that make me happy.
I have threatened to quit Facebook on more than one occasion, but I can't quite pull the trigger. I like the connection too much. My feed is cluttered, but it also shows me snippets of my friends' lives. It allows me to share their joy, congratulation them on their good news, and offer my sympathies in times of sorrow. Those opportunities often come at unexpected times, in between ads and annoyances, but they are there.
In parenting, just when you think your child has decided to occupy a planet completely separate from the one on which you live, they surprise you. It can be with a hug or a funny comment or a need for you that you never saw coming - something that reminds you both that they are absolutely your child and that you share a bond unlike any other.
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Filed under: Parenting