Did you know that there is no delineation for a stepparent on Facebook? When you fill out your profile, your parental choices are only "mother" and father." No "stepmother". No "stepfather". There are no "stepchild" choices, either. Only "daughter" or "son". Pleasantly, there is a space in the virtual universe where a stepparent is not estranged or considered a third wheel -- we are full-fledged members of our virtual families.
Facebook forces the universal question faced by all stepfamilies. How do you define your family? Our profiles are force us to answer tough questions. We are offered three life choices:
1. Step kids can choose the "Mother" or "Father" button.
As often happens in a divorced family, the children are forced to make the toughest decisions. Facebook presents a similar conundrum. Do you list your stepparent as a mother or father? Does this listing denounce your loyalty to your biological parent? What a terrible position to be faced with on Facebook!
The children that choose to click on the "mother" or "father" buttons are brave souls. They are teaching us a universal lesson -- love is infinite. There is plenty to go around. Love does not understand the concept of competition because it is abundant. Loving one person does not mean that you do not love another. As is often the case, these kids may be teaching their parents a lesson.
2. They can also ignore their stepparents.
The easy decision is to ignore your stepparents by not including them in your Facebook profile and pretending they do not exist. Many stepparents will tell you that they feel as if they are invisible, and exclusion from your children's profile is painful. It hurts. Once again, it is tough to ask your children to choose between their parents. A child's loyalty to their biological parents is completely normal. The lesson is for the stepparent to rise above the profile. Our main job is to offer compassion, devoid of ego or competitiveness. It is a great lesson that we teach our children through our dignity and silence.
3. Stepparents can select the "Son or Daughter" button.
Does the stepparent click on the "son or daughter" button on their profiles? Fears abound. You do not want to anger the biological parent. Yet, you do not want to ignore your stepchildren. For those that accept the challenge and click on those buttons, it is a message to the world that you love your children and consider them your full-fledged family. No exceptions. No explanations.
There is a lesson here for the biological parents. If you feel anger when you see these profiles, understand that you are giving in to your ego that loves to create fantastical fears. Do you have a limit to the number of people that can love your children? Can only certain people love your children? Maybe more love is a good thing. Perhaps anyone that wants to love your children is welcome.
Remember that Facebook profiles can always be changed. Where your family is now does not dictate where they may be a year from now. It is one of the beautiful things about Facebook and life.
Follow Barbara Goldberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@StepmomSpeaks