• Tue, Feb 8 2011

A Mom’s Guide to Social Networking

Today’s young mothers have a lot of difficult decisions to make: work or stay at home, bottle or breast milk, free-range or attachment.  For me, I find that it’s a balancing act.  From the very beginning, I realized that the easiest way for me was to combine all those mothering philosophies into something usable.  It resulted with Brenna learning to love both fresh fruits and  french fries.  She really is her mother’s daughter.

But nowhere is this balance more necessary than Facebook.  Unless you’ve taken the time to use all those annoying “groups” and separate other parents who don’t mind reading a child-centric post from single friends who only remember you have a baby when they invite you out on a Thursday night and can’t understand your reluctance to go partying, there is definitely a new set of etiquette rules for family Facebook updates.  If you keep your children completely off your Facebook page and never mention their existence, you become a non-mom.  Some might call you a MINO (mother in name only).  If you get too enthusiastic about your adorable tyke’s antics, you’ll end up on STFU, Parents.  Really, it’s amazing the amount of information people seem to glean from Facebook pages.  I can generally look at a profile page and tell if I find someone obnoxious or not, but that’s about it.

However, little did I know that the presence of my daughter on my Facebook page sends clear signals.  If I mention her in a status update, then she consumes my life.  She’s the only thing I ever care or talk about.  Not only that, I’m ridiculous and selfish enough to assume that the details or her life mean something to all the people I’ve friended along the way.  (By the way, if you hate my updates, just defriend me.  It’s easy.  I probably won’t even notice.)  On the other hand, if I leave my daughter off my Facebook page, it’s because I’m a two-timing tramp who’s ashamed to be a mother.  Those are some pretty extreme opposites.  And really, neither one is a message that I would like to send.

Earlier, Lilit talked about how annoying it is to use an ultrasound picture as your profile picture.  I’m not doubting this.  Personally, I prefer a profile picture to have your actual face on it.  My picture does happen to include my husband and daughter though.  For anyone who wonders why I would have two other people on my personal profile picture, I figure that if we’re friends – even internet friends -  you should know which one of the three I am.  If you don’t know, you shouldn’t care what’s on my Facebook page.

But I have to agree with some of the post’s commenters that an ultrasound picture is pretty personal.  And I think this type of personal information is exactly where the personal-sharing-line needs to be drawn.  Basically, any information that you wouldn’t want to share about yourself, you shouldn’t share about your child.  Just in case people don’t know exactly where to draw this line, here are some informative examples:

  • Status on potty training - personal information best left off the internet.
  • Perfecting the performance necessary for a fake sick day - a skill that I would be proud to share.
  • A child’s height, weight and any other information learned during a doctor’s appointment - a lady never tells.
  • A single, adorable picture from a birthday party – we’re all a little proud that we clean up nice.
  • Cute one-liners that spill out of children randomly, such as, “Mom, the sun is hiding behind the clouds.  I think I scared it.” – get the kid a Twitter account.

One more simple rule for the over-sharing mothers of the world (there seem to be a lot more of you than moms who refuse to discuss their children in public): Your child should account for less than 25% of your content.  No matter how much it feels like your little darling is taking over your life, you are your own person.  I promise.  I know it seems odd when the only thing I write about is parenting, but that’s because my job here happens to be discussing motherhood.  In real life, I love my daughter unconditionally, but she is not the only thing I know how to talk about.  We all  have opinions and interests and hobbies that involve people over four feet tall, don’t forget to mention that too.

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  • Bridget

    You are spot on. I struggle with this all the time. Thank you thank you!

  • Dad

    This is the dumbest thing I’ve read in a long time. Really? We need guides and rules for this sort of thing? Have we become that insecure and paranoid?

    Who cares what anyone thinks? Live your life however you want to live it. Don’t be pathetic.

    • Dawn

      It was meant to be humor. So laugh! I have gone through my facebook and clicked “hide” on the people who post every little thing their kid does. Its fantastic that your little booger-picker managed to not poop his pants today, but seriously- call me when he’s crapping glitter. that’s interesting. Thank you Lindsay for making me laugh today!

  • Jean

    I am curious if there should be guidelines for grandmas? Not that I would follow them – I agree – if you don’t like my post or pictures – don’t read them.