My 16-year-old daughter is mortified when her dad posts pictures of her on Facebook, which is often. I sympathize with her, but my husband, who has always teased the kids as a way of showing affection, thinks his posts are a sign of love and doesn't want to stop. How can we get him to understand that he's embarrassing her?
For years, one of the best ways to humiliate a teen would have been to sit down with her friends and go through the family photo album. Now that every smartphone is a camera and every interaction is considered worthy of documentation by social media-friendly parents, many kids share your daughter's dilemma.
• See the situation through your husband's eyes so he will be more open to your input. Even if you disagree with his social media behavior, let him know that you understand his motivation: "I get that you're proud of our daughter, and that you want our friends and family to be up to date on what the kids are doing." The less he feels judged for wanting to share photos of your daughter on Facebook, the more inclined he'll be to consider what you have to say on her behalf.
• Help your daughter look at what is fueling her discomfort. What does she imagine her friends think of her when they see a picture of her with her family? Whose unkind opinion is she afraid of? Does she want to be governed by the approval of others? While I tend to agree that parents should be judicious in posting about their children, it may be valuable to help your daughter explore her fears.
• Encourage your husband and daughter to enjoy each other. The closer people feel to one another, the more inclined they are to want to please each other. What interests do they have in common? What passions do they share? Cooking a meal together, going out for a daddy/daughter dinner, or hiking their favorite trail will make them feel more receptive to one another's wishes.
• Help your daughter express her feelings. If she simply complains that her dad is embarrassing her, or has no right to intrude on her privacy, he may think she's being overly dramatic or sensitive. But if she expresses what she feels when she sees one of his post --the self-consciousness or frustration -- he may soften. She might find it helpful to write him a letter, if only to get clear about what she wants to say. Again, the less she insists that she's right and he's wrong, and the more she speaks from her heart, the more likely he will listen.
• Support your husband and daughter in finding a compromise. Life is filled with situations where our desires are thwarted by someone we love. The answer isn't for one person to override the wishes of another, but rather, to learn the fine art of creating a win-win. Perhaps your daughter would be less uncomfortable with her dad's posts if she establishes that he doesn't post pictures of her as a little girl. Or maybe your husband can agree to show your daughter what he would like to post before he does so, so she has veto power.
Navigating the complexities of social media is difficult and confusing. It's one thing for us to decide to share snippets of our personal lives with the world at large, and something else when we decide to do that for people who have not given their permission, even if they are our children. I hope your husband recognizes the importance of respecting your daughter's feelings, and that they work together to create a compromise they both can live with.
Susan Stiffelman is the author of Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm and Connected and the upcoming, Parenting with Presence: Practices for Raising Conscious, Confident, Caring Kids (An Eckhart Tolle Edition). She is a family therapist, parent coach and internationally recognized speaker on all subjects related to children, teens and parenting.
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